With over 600 castles crammed into such a tiny country, Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world and dozens of medieval fortresses can be found dotted throughout the countryside surrounding Cardiff.
Perched on a grassy mound in the heart of the historic city, Cardiff Castle is the country’s flagship fortress, a 2,000-year-old Roman fort transformed into a grand Victorian manor by the prestigious Bute Family. One of Wales’ most important heritage sites, the castle features the interior masterwork of eccentric architect William Burges, exquisite gardens and a series of underground tunnels, used as air raid shelters during WWII.
St Fagan’s Castle is another important tourist attraction, now home to the vast open-air St Fagans National History Museum, devoted to chronicling the historic culture and lifestyles of the Welsh people. Also within the city boundaries are the motte and bailey of the 11th century Norman Twmpath Castle and the Grade I listed ruins of Llandaff Bishop’s Palace.
Just north of Cardiff, the elegant Castell Coch is another William Burges designed fairytale castle, also owned by the Bute family, and the 13th century Caerphilly Castle is largely regarded as one of the world’s greatest surviving medieval castles, once hosting King Edward II among its many noble guests. Heading further east, the remains of the 14th century Newport Castle and nearby Caerleon Castle merely hint at their former glory.
It’s not only touring the castles that draws visitors - traditional Welsh medieval banquets are also held at Cardiff Castle and Caldicot Castle (around 40 minutes drive outside of the capital), and a few hours north, the Royal Ruthin Castle now houses a luxury hotel.