We’ve partnered up with Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, to find out which Welsh castle is the most popular to visit. Cadw is a Welsh word meaning ‘to keep’ or ‘to protect’. Their mission is to make sure there is an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales. Now, without further ado, let’s countdown the most popular castles in the land of the dragon. Oh and we should probably mention, one is actually an abbey.
10) Criccieth over 45k visitors
The magical Criccieth Castle overlooks Tremadog Bay in North Wales. Its name comes from the words for hill and captives as it was once used as a prison!
9) Raglan over 60k visitors
Raglan Castle is in Monmouthshire, South East Wales. You might recognise it from featuring in an episode of BBC’s Merlin. It was built in the 1430s making it a relative youngster in castle terms!
8) Chepstow over 65k visitors
Look closely at the photo and you’ll spot a semi-nude man leaping form the walls of Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire! Don’t worry, he is a professional cliff diver and was meant to jump to the water below.
7) Tintern over 72k visitors
Another Monmouthshire beauty but this time not a castle, Tintern Abbey was built by the Cistercians in 1131, it functioned for over 400 years before being surrendered to Henry VIII’s officials in 1536. It has recently had a two-year period of restoration and is looking stunning once more.
6) Coch over 73k visitors
Coch Castle (meaning Red Castle) in South Wales is a real stunner, it looks like something straight out of a fairytale and for good reason. It was actually designed by the eccentric Victorian genius William Burges in the late 1800s.
5) Beaumaris over 82k visitors
Beaumaris Castle sits by the water’s edge on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. It was built by Edward I and is considered perfect with its classic proportions and walls within walls design. Since 1986 it has been part of the Castles and Town Walls of Edward 1 World Heritage Site.
4) Harlech over 102k visitors
Harlech Castle in North West Wales is immortalised in the nation’s unofficial anthem telling of the siege that formed part of the War of the Roses. It was speedily built, for Edward I, in just 12 years by 100s of skilled craftsmen.
3) Caerphilly over 120k visitors
The scale of Caerphilly Castle in South Wales is truly something to behold! It is the largest castle in Wales and understandably helps make the town famous alongside the cheese of the same name. The moats and islands make it a photographer’s dream!
2) Conwy over 203k visitors
Another castle built by Edward I on the north coast of Wales, Conwy Castle is amongst the finest surviving medieval fortifications in the UK. It features two barbicans, eight huge towers and an impressive base of rock to protect from below.
1) Caernarfon over 310k visitors
Caernarfon Castle (or Carnarvon Castle as you might see it written) in North West Wales is the most popular castle in Wales with over 310,000 visitors a year! Edward I created one of Wales’ most impressive castles, with its intimidating towers and stunning setting on the banks of the River Seiont. Along with Harlech Castle, Conwy Castle and Beaumaris Castle, this monument has been part of the Castles and Town Walls of Edward 1 World Heritage Site since 1986.