Caerphilly Castle is a medieval fortification constructed by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century. Surrounded by extensive artificial lakes – considered by historian Allen Brown to be 'the most elaborate water defences in all Britain' – it occupies around 30 acres and is the largest castle in Wales and the second-largest castle in the United Kingdom after Windsor Castle. It is famous for having introduced concentric castle defences to Britain and for its large gatehouses.

Gilbert began work on the castle in 1268 following his occupation of the north of Glamorgan, with the majority of the construction occurring over the next three years at a considerable cost. The project was opposed by Gilbert's Welsh rival Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, leading to the site being burnt in 1270 and taken over by royal officials in 1271. Despite these interruptions, Gilbert successfully completed the castle and took control of the region. The core of Caerphilly Castle, including the castle's luxurious accommodation, was built on what became a central island, surrounding by several artificial lakes, a design Gilbert probably derived from that at Kenilworth. The dams for these lakes were further fortified, and an island to the west provided additional protection. The concentric rings of walls inspired Edward I's castles.

The castle was attacked during the Madog ap Llywelyn revolt of 1294, the Llywelyn Bren uprising in 1316 and during the overthrow of Edward II in 1326–27. In the late 15th century, however, it fell into decline and by the 16th century the lakes had drained away and the walls were robbed of their stone. The Marquesses of Bute acquired the property in 1776 and under the third and fourth Marquesses extensive restoration took place. In 1950 the castle and grounds were given to the state and the water defences were re-flooded. In the 21st century, the Welsh heritage agency Cadw manages the site as a tourist attraction.

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Caerphilly, United Kingdom
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Founded: 1268
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Matthew Webb (10 months ago)
£33 for a family of four felt a little steep. The castle is undergoing renovation and some parts are closed off. Many of the rooms are empty and there is a distinct lack of information. The boards hint at the castles evocative history, yet fail to fill in the details. For such a large, sprawling site, it failed to entertain.
Peter Rogers-Inglis (11 months ago)
Nice little visitor centre and shop. Most rooms and areas are accessible with interesting little things to discover. When we visited, the main keep was under restoration so we were kindly given a tour book as compensation.
Gillian (11 months ago)
I'm always amazed when visiting old castles. I touch a stone that someone put there 800 years ago. Incredible really that so much of Caerphilly is still in great condition. The history is fascinating and well worth a visit for an hour or so.
Emma Douglas (12 months ago)
Beautiful castle to check out just outside of Cardiff! It was a quick £4.75 round trip train ride from Queen Street Station in Cardiff. Recommend buying tickets ahead for choosing your time slot. I went on a beautiful sunny Sunday! Wasn’t too crowded and there was no wait time
Anthony Simons (12 months ago)
Best castle In Wales. And that's not to be taken lightly as we have many stunning castles in this beautiful, historic country. You can really feel the history with every step you take. Will definitely keep visiting.
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