Top 5 Welsh castles that melt away the winter blues

Spring is coming, so it’s the perfect moment to discover the best castles in Wales.

1.Cardiff Castle

Located in the middle of the city, Cardiff Castle is unique for its construction consisting of a number of buildings, all set around a single large courtyard. The most ancient of them are the Norman Keep and the Black Tower. Lord Bute’s passion for history and mythology are clearly visible in every room with the beautifully decorated walls like in the Arabic room and the Children’s room. However Lady Bute’s bedroom is different as she preferred a simpler style of decoration, with mostly white walls.

In 19th century it was discovered that Normans built their fortifications on a Roman Fort from the 1st century A.D.  It is still possible to see where the old walls end thanks to a line of red bricks.

Cardiff Castle, which was the Bute Family’s private residence until 1947 was later donated to the citizens of Cardiff along with the park. The decision was taken to make sure that nobody could sell it in the future without the agreement of the entire Cardiff population. Even today, everyone who lives in Cardiff is, in some way, partially owns the castle and is entitled to have a ‘key card’ which provides many facilities.

How to get there: 10 minutes on foot from the Central Station to Castle Street
Phone: (+44) 029 2087 8100

2.Castle Coch

Located in the northern part of the city, it appears in the middle of a forest. From the outside it looks like the perfect Castle any child would draw. Lord Bute has used many different legends and mythologies to give a theme to every room. The Drawing Room for example is painted in Esopo’s Scenes. The family used to go there during the summer weekends, but after the death of her husband, Lady Bute didn’t go back there a lot. The project was designed by William Burgess and built on the old Castle Coch, originally built by Gilbert de Clare in XIII century.

Lady Bute’s Room is one of the most interesting, decorated with animal paintings on the inner walls of the dome and a canopy bed in the middle of the room with crystal globes in every corner. Around the room there are 28 paintings with monkey and bird statues and in a corner you will be able to see a sink in between two small castle towers.

How to get there: 3 minutes on foot from Cardiff Central Railway Station to JP bus stop. Take the bus 132 for 19 minutes to Bute Street. Then walk for 16 minutes until Tongwynlais
Phone: (+44) 029 2081 0101

3.Caerphilly Castle

In the small town of Caerphilly we can find a castle in the middle of a lake where the big Towers are reflected off the water.You can find a large number of geese and ducks all around, waddling on the grass or swimming just under the walls. This medieval castle surrounded by lakes and ditches, is often used as a movie location.

Completed between 1268 and 1271 by Gilbert de Clare as an answer to the threat against the last Welsh Prince, it was the first castle with a drawbridge and a lake. The famous leaning tower is the result of a land subsidence. A human statue makes you believe that it’s helping that part of the castle stay up.

Walking around the castle the feeling is magical. In one of the rooms around the ground floor you will find a multimedia panel with explanation about the castle. And not too far from there, in a really dark room, there is a mirror which reflects the light from outside, and if you go closer you could see something unexpected right behind you.

How to get there: 20 minutes by train to Caerphilly. Then 6 minutes on foot to Castle Street.
Phone: (+44) 029 2088 3143

4.Caernarfon Castle

This castle was built between 1283 and 1330 as a military stronghold, and was the seat of the government and the Royal Palace. James of St George, from Savoia, designed it and the result was vastly appreciated. The inspiration came from Welsh manuscripts full of mythology and ancient tradition.

The castle would be perfect in a fairy tale book for children but is also really sophisticated and full of strongholds and trapdoors. In 1404 it was possible to reject the entire Owain Glyndwr army with only 28 men and, during the Civil English War, it resisted up to three sieges. Only in 1646 was it conquered by Cromwell’s army.

It’s possible to walk between the towers all around the courtyard. On the Eagle Tower there are some statues that used to let the enemies believe that there were more people ready to fight. Inside the Queen’s Tower there is the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

How to get there: Take the train to Chester from Cardiff Central and then change for Bangor. Walk 2 minutes and catch the bus number 9 until the bus station Stand C. Reach Castle Ditch on foot in 5 minutes.
Phone: (+44) 01286 677617

5.Chepstow Castle

On the Wye river, Chepstow Castle is one of the oldest castles in all of Great Britain. The construction started in 1067 after William the Conqueror invaded England. The Great Tower still shows the Norman origins.

Inside the Lower Bailey there is an exhibition of the castle and the oldest castle-door in all of Europe, dated before the 1190. Near the stairs as you go down to the cellars, you can take a look at the latrines. Everything is surrounded by green gardens. Inside the hills under the castle there is a cave, the legend says that King Arthur and his Knights are resting there until the day Great Britain will need them again.

How to get there: Take the Train for Chepstow (50 minutes) and walk for 6 minutes until 1 Bridge Street
Phone: (+44) 01291 624065

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