Get to know some of Snowdonia’s fabulous fortresses. For a closer look, pick up a Snowdonia Pass and enjoy reduced entry costs to every one.
Beautiful Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey is a masterpiece of 13th-century castle design (and a UNSECO World Heritage Site). Even though it was never fully completed, it’s concentric walls-within-walls layout was a high-tech defensive innovation at the time. With its deep moat, sturdy round towers and protected access to the sea, it’s still pretty impressive today.
Another World Heritage Site, mighty Caernarfon Castle is a real rock star. Built by Edward I as a statement of power and dominance, it was designed to impress and intimidate the unruly natives. The castle is in Welsh hands now, but it’s still seriously awe-inspiring. Apart from it’s sheer size, it’s marked out by its unusual towers, which are polygonal rather than rounded. The tallest is the giant Eagle Tower which looms imposingly over the town.
Conwy Castle’s longevity is thanks to both human ingenuity and natural attributes. The thick stone walls and and soaring towers are impressive feats of engineering, but it’s the castle’s position high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Conwy Estuary that makes it truly impregnable. Costing £15,000 to build (an incredible sum in 13th-century money) it was Edward I’s most expensive castle – and a World Heritage Site to boot.
While it’s the only one on the list without World Heritage Site status, Criccieth Castle is every bit as fascinating as its more famous peers. Built by Llywelyn the Great, it’s a truly Welsh castle that was a source of constant conflict between the native and English rulers vying to control it. It’s easy to see why both sides valued it so much. Its location on a rocky promontory overlooking the town and waters of Cardigan Bay gave it huge strategic importance (plus some widescreen views of the sea and Snowdonia).
Merging almost imperceptible with the rocky cliffs on which it sits, Harlech Castle is an imposing landmark that dominates the surrounding landscape. The last of our quartet of World Heritage Sites, it’s the ideal vantage point to drink in spectacular views of the sea and the mountains of Snowdonia. There’s also a high-tech new visitor centre, which uses interactive technology to bring the castle’s centuries of history to life.