Caernarfon Castle has been standing for over 800 years. It was built to be the home of the Lord of Caernarfon, who was also the ruler of Wales. This castle is located in Caernarfon, a small town on the coast of North Wales.
Although it’s currently used as a tourist attraction and a museum, it was originally built to be used as a fortress by military forces.
The history of Caernarfon Castle
Located on the outskirts of the coastal town Caernarfon, the impressive Caernarfon Castle sits back from the sea under striking cliff faces. Its history goes back to 1120 when King Henry I ordered a huge Norman castle to be built in order to control the strategic location of this area; in 1283 it changed hands with Edward I who then started extending the stronghold until it became one of most heavily defended in Britain with huge towers and fortifications.
Caernarfon castle is a must-see for any history fan. It’s amazingly well preserved and interesting to explore, especially if you have an interest in medieval architecture, or Welsh culture and history.
Caernarfon Castle is a well-preserved medieval fortress in Gwynedd, Wales. It’s located on the River Seiont, overlooking the town of Caernarfon. It’s been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle was built by Edward I in 1283 after he conquered Wales during the late 13th century. Edward had a strong desire to make an impressive statement about his power and authority over this area so designed the castle with this in mind. It has several towers which are widely considered to be some of the best examples of military architecture in Britain!
If you’re a history buff, then you’ll love Caernarfon Castle. It’s a fascinating spot to visit, especially if you have an interest in medieval architecture, or Welsh culture and history.
The legend of King Arthur at Caernarfon Castle
Rumour has it that King Edward I of England strongly believed in King Arthur. He even went as far as using the legend to strengthen his own claim to the throne at Caernarfon Castle.
In essence, the legend of King Arthur was extremely popular in Wales during the reign of King Edward I of England.
Most locals believed in the prophecy of a messianic king returning from the dead to banish enemies from their land and living in a unified Wales. Edward I leveraged this common belief to his advantage. He shamelessly claimed Wales would indeed live freely and peacefully under English rule. This was further on adopted by all Plantagenet kings until the 15th century.
Royal Family at Caernarfon Castle
Did you know? The castle has a long association with the title of Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales is, still to this day, the next-in-line to the throne of the United Kingdom. Why? Because Edward I’s first son was born at Caernarfon Castle, making him the very first Prince of Wales.
It was the location in 1911 for the investiture of Prince Edward as the Prince of Wales who would later become King Edward VIII. He is most famously known for being one of the shortest-reigning British monarchs to date. With just 236 days on the throne! King Edward adbicated because of his love for American divorcee Wallis Simpson, who was deemed unsuitable to become queen by the British people.
He later became the Duke of Windsor, as depicted in the Netflix series The Crown.
More recently, the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales took place here on July 1, 1969. It was televised around the world and watched by millions. And while William is the new Prince of Wales, there are no plans for an official investiture ceremony any time soon.
Useful Wales travel tips
Where to stay in Caernarfon
I stayed at the stunning traditional pub in the heart of Caernarfon village, 400-year old Black Boy Inn. I recommend dining in the wildly atmospheric, Tudor-looking pub downstairs before heading up to one of the charming rooms with four poster beds.
The Welsh language has its own unique set of sounds. As such, it can be difficult to understand if you’re not used to hearing it spoken regularly—and there are many words in Welsh that don’t have direct translations into English.
But it’s worth learning some basic phrases before your trip. You’ll be able to communicate with locals at least somewhat effectively as soon as you arrive. Or in any case, even just show off your appreciation for one of their most famous exports).
Getting to Caernarfon
The castle is easy to get to, by either road or public transport. There are regular buses from Caernarfon town centre and the railway station which stop nearby.
Caernarfon Castle is a popular tourist destination, so services are frequent and reliable during peak season (April-September). You may want to check timetables if you’re planning on visiting outside these months. If you don’t have a car, there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area. Visiting Llandudno beach or exploring Penrhyn Slate Quarry are good options!
Visiting Caernarfon Castle
The castle is open year-round with varying schedules, but mostly between 9:30 am and 5 pm. Tickets cost £11.10 per adult and £7.80 for children aged 5-17.