You may have heard a whisper that Wales has a castle or two. Indeed there are 641 at the last count, meaning that we have more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe. In fact almost every town or village has some form of castle or fort.
Not all are as big as Caerphilly Castle. In fact very few castles in Europe are as big as Caerphilly Castle. It dominates the otherwise quiet market town in which it stands. It was built in the 13th Century and must have been a quite a fearsome site to attacking enemies with its imposing walls and huge moat. Thankfully they’re a bit more welcoming to visitors today and have opened the portcullis and put a bridge across the moat so you don’t get your feet wet on the way in.
Caerphilly Castle is a mere youngster compared to Chepstow Castle as it dates from the 11th Century. As well as being the oldest it was probably the most strategically important as it stands guard on a hillside overlooking the River Wye which marks the border between Wales and England.
It may not be as grand as Caerphilly or as important as Chepstow but Ogmore Castle near Bridgend certainly makes up for this as being one of the most picturesque. Sitting quietly on the banks of the River Ewenny, access to the castle is via a set of stepping stones which leads from the tiny hamlet of Merthyr Mawr and its thatched cottages.
If it’s grand castles that you want then there is none more opulent than Cardiff Castle. Don’t believe me? Then take a tour of the apartments dating from the 1860s. You’ll be amazed by the lavishness and luxury in which the Marquess of Bute, at the time the richest man in the world, once lived. As well as the extravagant apartments the castle also has a Norman keep and Roman walls. It’s like all the castles of Wales rolled into one.
Beth Cummings is Marketing Manager at Southern Wales Tourism.
Castles in Wales