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

LauraGrace Roaming Hind (16 days ago)
Definitely worth a visit! It’s beautifully care for, and the views from the top are second to none. We didn’t take our dog but I did see dogs around the grounds.
Jonathan “VfxJonny” Webster (21 days ago)
Had a great time here, the castle and surrounding views are gorgeous. Couldn't recommend this place to people enough! There is also a couple of cute little shops and cafes around it too.
Kirstie Forde (34 days ago)
A beautiful castle in a beautiful part of Wales. Parking outside the castle is very limited. As it was a very wet and windy day, we managed to get a space. (Parking is cash only) The castle itself is beautiful. Steeped in history with lots of information around telling the history of the castle. Reasonable entrance fee. £23 for a family of 4. (2 adults, an 11 year old and a 4 year old). There was also a fun game to play where we had to collect letters to make words and then collect a prize at the end. Amazing views from the castle even with the weather conditions. The reason I've given this a 4 instead of a 5 is because, even though dogs are allowed in the castle and the shop, they are not allowed in the cafe which i find strange. We were told we could sit outside but the weather was awful so we had to go elsewhere that was dog friendly. Otherwise, a lovely few hours and would recommend a visit here if you are in the area.
Matt Jones (2 months ago)
Magnificent visit. Lovely cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating (and blankets!). Well maintained castle, with recently installed railings on the battlements which helped the kids feel safe up there. Fascinating history, beautiful setting. Kids and grown ups loved it.
Chris Lee (2 months ago)
Lovely castle in a stunning location. Walking the battlements gives fabulous views (but it was VERY windy when we visited). You can pretend you're in your very own fantasy movie for a while.
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