Conwy Castle is an Edwardian castle, built in the 13th century over a period of four years between 1283 and 1287 by King Edward I, with the intention to intimidate. The castle has a spectacular view of the mountains of Snowdonia and retains a reputation for being incredibly well preserved despite being over 700 years old. Conwy’s eight massive towers and high curtain wall are an impressive site that are worth a visit.
Conwy Castle was part of King Edward I’s plan to surround Wales in ‘an iron ring of castles’ as part of an intimidation tactic to keep the native Welsh population at bay. There was an English colony in Conwy and the native Welsh population were violently opposed to their being there and so King Edward I built castles around Wales in order to intimidate the native Welsh population. Due to the castle’s purpose, the castle has a defensive design, with grand round towers, a double courtyard, and outer barbican defensive walls and towers. The castle is perched on a high rock above the estuary of the River Conwy on the East side. On the South side is the Gyffin Stream, meaning that the castle was easily defended and can be easily supplied from the river. Other than being a castle built for defence, Conwy’s position had even more significance. It was the site of the Cistercian Aberconwy Abbey of Saint Mary. The abbey was also the burial place of Llywelyn ap Iorworth (former Prince of North Wales). Edward I chose this site not only for its good defence, but to signify change.
Edward I began to conquer most of Wales from 1272, forcing Wales to join the same county system as England at the time. After the death of Llywelyn, the Prince of Wales, in 1282, the only part of Wales that remained free was the North. This is where King Edward I decided to build several castles, including Conwy Castle.
In the winter of 1294-5 Edward used Conwy Castle for his own safety, the only time he ever stayed at the castle. The Welsh uprising, led by Madog ap Llywelyn, resulted in Conwy being besieged. The castle could not be restored until Spring of 1295 and Edward I was obligated to share his personal wine stock.
Conwy Castle was also home to the ceremony that crowned Edward I’s son, Edward II of England, as Prince of Wales after his birth in 1301. After this, the castle had a period of neglect, then being repaired towards the end of the 14th century.
Conwy Castle was also used as a refuge for Richard II of England, who during his fight for the throne against his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Richard II used Conwy Castle as his base. However, in 1399, Richard II was convinced to leave the castle by a traitorous adviser and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and forced to abdicate the throne. Then in 1401, the castle was captured by Owain Glyn Dwr during the Welsh rebellion.
The Inner Ward
The Inner Ward is at the centre of the castle and is home to the suite of apartments that Master James of St. George built for King Edward and Queen Eleanor in 1283.
The castle’s location is amongst the hills, the eight towers provide incredible views of the town of Conwy, the coastline, and the countryside. The castle is even said to be haunted by a past resident. Conwy Castle is a great day out with plenty of history, and plenty of natural beauty encased within the town of Conwy and its surrounding landscape.
Conwy Castle is accessible by road, rail, and bus.
You can access Conwy by road via the A55 or B5106.
By rail Conwy is accessible by Llandudno Junction (2km) or Conwy Station (0.6km), on the Crewe-Llandudno Junction/Holyhead route.
By bus, route no 5 (220 yards), Llandudno-Conwy-Bangor/Caernarfon.
Where to stay:
Garreg Lwyd Cottage – Garreg Lwyd Cottage is 0.24 miles away from Conwy Castle. It is a self catering holiday cottage, suitable for a small family with a traditional and homely design.
The View Holiday Cottage – The View Holiday Cottage is 0.69 miles away from Conwy Castle. It is a pet friendly cottage housing up to 5 guests, with homely decor and a beautiful view of the Conwy harbour.
North Wales Holiday Cottages and Farmhouses – This company offers accommodation throughout North Wales, one of which is 1.13 miles away from Conwy Castle.
Bodysgallen Hall & Spa – Bodysgallen Hall & Spa is situated 1.5 miles away from Conwy Castle. It is a country house hotel with 200 acres of gardens and wooded parkland with incredible views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle.
- Member – Free
- Adult – £8.80
- Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) – £25.10
- Disabled and Companion – Free
- Juniors (5-17) – £5.40
- NUS – £5.40
- Armed Forces and Veterans – £5.40
- Seniors (65+) – £7.10
- Children (under 5) – Free
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Pembrokeshire Castle