Conwy’s massive military strength springs from the rock on which it stands. Built for Edward I, by Master James of St George, the castle is amongst the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain. In a word, exceptional. You can’t fault it, from the grandeur of its high towers and curtain walls to its excellent state of preservation. An estimated £15,000 was spent building the castle, the largest sum Edward spent in such a short time on any of his Welsh castles between 1277 and 1307.
Money well spent. Two barbicans (fortified gateways), eight massive towers and a great bow-shaped hall all sit within its distinctive elongated shape, due in part to the narrow rocky outcrop on which the castle stands. You won’t find Edward’s concentric ‘walls within walls’ here. They weren’t needed. The rock base was enough security in itself. Some say it is the most magnificent of Edward I’s Welsh fortresses. To get the full picture, head for the battlements. Breathtaking views across mountains and sea. If the outside impresses (and it will), wait until you go in. With an outer ward containing a great hall, chambers and kitchen, and a more secluded inner ward with private chambers and a royal chapel, it is very easy to imagine how Conwy functioned when the royal entourage were in town.