Friday, August 27, 2010

The Castles of North Wales

Most of the sites we've seen in North Wales have been castles. The ones we've visited were all built (or taken over and renovated) by King Edward I as a part of his "Iron Ring" of castles around Snowdonia, the nearby National Park. Edward the First, also known as Edward Longshanks, reigned as King of England for nearly 35 years. Honestly I can't separate the name from the image I have from Braveheart, which is that he was a nasty son of a bitch, but read this and let me know if you disagree. In the meantime, here are some photos...

1. The aforementioned Conwy Castle. "Building" began in 1283 however it was more of a reclamation of Deganwy Castle built by Henry III which had been destroyed by the Welsh.

2. Caernarfon Castle (Which is pronounced Cuh-Nar-Vin). Caernarfon has had an interesting history - the area it is built in was once a Roman fort and the castle itself is based on the design of Constantinople. It is also where Prince Charles was officially confirmed as Prince and future King of England.

3. Beaumaris Castle. Building of this castle started in 1295, but it was never actually completed. This may be why it seems substantially smaller than the other castles we saw. According to Wikipedia, the construction funds ran low when Edward's issues with Scotland (an understatement) came to a head.

4. Criccieth Castle ("Crick-eth"). Criccieth castle sits on top of a hill high above Tremadog Bay. You can only visit its ruins because the walls were knocked down and set on fire by the Welsh in 1404. It is in one of the most BEAUTIFUL settings you can imagine and we were lucky to see it on a gorgeous day.

5. Harlech Castle. This castle is also in an amazingly beautiful setting. Originally built right along the sea cliffs of the Irish Sea, Harlech Castle now sits a good mile or more from the ocean. It sits amongst a quaint Welsh countryside with the hills of Snowdonia in the background.