Harlech Castle

Harlech, United Kingdom

Harlech Castle in Gwynedd, Wales, is a Grade I listed medieval fortification built onto a rocky knoll close to the Irish Sea. It was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289. Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294 and 1295, but falling to Prince Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. It then became Glyndŵr's residence and military headquarters for the remainder of the uprising until being recaptured by English forces in 1409.

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468, a siege memorialised in the song 'Men of Harlech'. Following the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the castle was held by forces loyal to Charles I, holding out until 1647 when it became the last fortification to surrender to the Parliamentary armies. In the 21st century the ruined castle is managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service, as a tourist attraction.

UNESCO considers Harlech, with three others at Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon, to be one of 'the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe', and it is classed as a World Heritage Site. The fortification is built of local stone and concentric in design, featuring a massive gatehouse that probably once provided high-status accommodation for the castle constable and visiting dignitaries. The sea originally came much closer to Harlech than in modern times, and a water-gate and a long flight of steps leads down from the castle to the former shore, which allowed the castle to be resupplied by sea during sieges. In keeping with Edward's other castles in the north of Wales, the architecture of Harlech has close links to that found in the County of Savoy during the same period, an influence probably derived from the Savoy origins of the main architect, James of Saint George.



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Founded: 1282-1289
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gill Jones (9 months ago)
Great place to visit. So much of the castle is still intact too. Stunning views all around, being so close to Snowdon. Staff very helpful and friendly. Easily accessed for disabled although would not be able to visit battlements. A Great fun place for children to explore.
Martin Hollingworth (13 months ago)
Enjoyed the walks around the castle. Dogs welcome but only ground floor. Stunning views from the top. Small car park got busy quickly. Best to go early. Nice cafe and gift shop.
Adam (13 months ago)
We're staying not far from here and planned to visit this castle as a part of our trip. With an initial trouble to find a parking spot, then climbing the steepest road in the UK, we managed to get there. The castle is a well maintained with, at the time of our visit, volunteers dressed for the atmosphere and teaching kids some medieval arts. We enjoyed the views and walks.
Susan Yates (13 months ago)
A lovely old castle with plenty to see. Stunning views if you can climb the narrow stairs. Plenty of information boards around giving the history of the castle and how people lived there. There's limited parking that belongs to the council not the castle. The road to reach the castle is very narrow and has a few sharp uphill turns!!
Rachel Oliver (15 months ago)
Really loved this castle; great place, great views, awesome reenactment and period costumes when we went. Great atmosphere and sense of history you can touch and see. Be careful with children here, low barriers on high walls!
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