Great Castles & Historic Attractions
in North and Mid Wales
Caernarfon Castle © Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales
North and Mid Wales is renowned for its mighty castles - some of the world's finest - constructed during the troubled medieval period. Standing supreme is the quartet of castles at Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, landmarks in the development of medieval military architecture, their lofty position recognised by their status as World Heritage Sites.
The great fortress-palace of Caernarfon, with its soaring walls and imperious towers, is perhaps the most famous of the four. Yet all are equally inspiring. Spectacularly sited Harlech is perched on a crag overlooking sea and mountain. Gritty Conwy, aided and abetted by a ring of amazingly well-preserved town walls, conjures up a convincing medieval atmosphere. And at Beaumaris we have, in pure architectural terms, the most accomplished medieval fortress in Britain.
These awesome stone fortresses , built by the English monarch Edward I to stamp his authority on Wales, do not stand alone. The landscape is dotted with castles of all kinds. There are mountain strongholds such as Dolwyddelan and Dolbadarn, homes of the Welsh princes. There are other Edwardian fortresses like Rhuddlan, built along with the famous four as part of an 'iron ring' of castles to contain the Welsh in their mountain fastness. And there are castles (at Criccieth, for example) which served both Welsh and English masters.
The history of north and mid Wales has not been moulded just by medieval conflict. The Isle of Anglesey bears widespread evidence of prehistoric settlement in the shape of mysterious burial chambers.
Religious men left many evocative monuments to their faith in these hills and mountains (the great Cistercian house of Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen, for example, or the charming little Rug Chapel near Corwen. This beautiful part of Wales even displays unexpected reminders of an industrial past, at the Dyfi Furnace south of Machynlleth and the fascinating Bryn Tail Lead Mine beside the Clwedog reservoir.
Plas Mawr is the finest surviving Elizabethan gentry town-house in Britain in the centre of the historic walled town of Conwy. Noted for its fine decorative plasterwork.
Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. Crown Copyright.
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