Snowdonia holiday parks are close to a number of natural and historical monuments within the national park. One in particular, which is a fifteen minute drive away from West Point, is Caernarfon Castle. If you’re looking for both an enjoyable and interesting day out, it’s well worth the quick drive over during your stay at the holiday park.
Visiting the castle is a great way to explore the rest of the historic town of Caernarfon, which faces the eastern shore of the Menai Strait. If you’re looking to get some souvenirs for your friends and family back at home, there are plenty of shops within the town dedicated to traditional Welsh products and gifts.
The History of Caernarfon Castle
The vast medieval fortress was built in the late 13th century to replace an old motte-and-bailey castle which was once owned by the Welsh princes and had stood in the town of Caernarfon since the 11th Century. It was King Edward I of England who built the castle and he also requested for town walls to be built to surround Caernarfon.
It is estimated that the castle cost around £25,000 to build completely, which seems like a small sum with today’s currency! The work on the castle was completed in 1330, and was a victim to a number of besieges – the last time during the English Civil War.
Once the English Civil War ended in 1651, Caernarfon Castle was left neglected until the 19th century. Since then, the castle has become a World Heritage Site, and is visited by tourists from all over.
Visiting Caernarfon Castle
The castle is now owned by Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government. Visitors are now able to explore within the castle throughout the day, with visiting hours depending on the season. During February, the castle is open to guest from 10am to 4pm between Monday and Friday, and 11am to 4pm on Sundays.
Visiting the castle is a great day for both children and adults, and is often the host of seasonal events. Last November, the castle was chosen as one of the locations for the Weeping Window poppy display.
Housed in one of the castles towers is the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum. The Royal Welch Fusiliers are a historic regiment within the British Army, and the museum exhibit features a collection of films, models and items dating back up to 300 years. You’ll learn about the lives of soldiers during the First World War, and the unique traditions of the regiment.
If you travel a little further afield, you can reach the town of Conwy. This medieval town is also home to a huge 13th century castle, as well as also being a World Heritage Site. Much like Caernarfon, imposing town walls also surround the quaint town of Conwy.
Conwy sees a number of tourists each year, from all over the world. Many enjoy taking a stroll along its quay, and enjoying a tasty portion of fish and chips from one of the many chip shops in the town!
The History of Conwy Castle
King Edward I invaded the county of Aberconwy in 1283, and plans to build Conwy Castle soon followed. The work began in 1283, and the castle was completed four years later in 1287. It cost around £15,000 for both the castle and the town walls to be built – which are the time was a rather large sum.
By the 17th century, the castle had fallen into disrepair. Charles I sold the castle to a viscount named Edward Conway for the meager sum of £100. The son of Edward eventually stripped all of the remaining iron from the castle to sell off, which turned the castle into a complete ruin – where it remained that way for quite some time.
Visiting Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle is now owned by Cadw, and saw over 186,000 tourists visit in 2010. Regular maintenance and repairs are carried out on the castle to ensure it remains a tourist attraction for visitors to enjoy. As both castles are owned by Cadw, the visiting times for Conwy are the same as those for Caernarfon Castle. To find out more about visiting the castle, visit the Cadw website.