One of the great medieval castles of western Europe. Several factors give it this pre-eminence – its immense size (1.2h), making it the largest in Britain after Windsor, its large-scale use of water for defence and the fact that it is the first truly concentric castle in Britain. Of the time of its building in the late 13th century, it was a revolutionary masterpiece of military planning.
Caerphilly is unusual in being a late castle built on a virgin site. This allowed a unity of conception rare in medieval castles. It is a double-skinned parallelogram surrounded by large-scale water defences. The concentric arrangement was more flexible than earlier plans. It gave rapid access to any part of the castle by mural passages and wall-walks, towers and gatehouses could be independently held, attackers could be well covered and there was no possibility of mounting siege engines against the inner walls. The castle’s cellular structure and strength is indicated by the presence of numerous portcullises.
Constructed by the English monarch Edward I between 1283 and 1289, Conwy castle is a gritty, dark stoned fortress which has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere. The first time that visitors catch sight of the castle, commanding a rock above the Conwy Estuary and demanding as much attention as the dramatic Snowdonia skyline behind it, they know they are in the presence of a historic site which still casts a powerful spell.
The views from the battlements are breathtaking looking out across mountains and sea and down to the roofless shell of the castles 125ft Great Hall. It is from these battlements that visitors can best appreciate Conwy’s other great glory, its ring of town walls. Conwy is the classic walled town. Its circuit of walls, over three quarters of a mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the World.