Criccieth Castle is a striking medieval fortress located in the seaside town of Criccieth in Gwynedd, Wales. It occupies a commanding position on a rocky headland, overlooking Cardigan Bay. With its rich history, impressive architecture, and breathtaking views, Criccieth Castle is a popular destination for history enthusiasts and visitors alike.
The castle’s origins can be traced back to the 13th century, when it was built by Llywelyn the Great, the Prince of Gwynedd. Its primary purpose was to serve as a symbol of Welsh power and control over the region. Llywelyn strategically chose the location to take advantage of its natural defensive features, including the steep cliffs and the sea.
The castle consists of two main parts: the lower ward and the upper ward. The lower ward is located on the eastern side and features a twin-towered gatehouse that served as the main entrance to the castle. It was designed to impress and intimidate, with its imposing presence and sturdy construction. The gatehouse provided access to the lower ward, which would have housed various domestic buildings, including kitchens, storage areas, and accommodations for the castle’s inhabitants.
From the lower ward, a steep staircase leads to the upper ward, which sits atop the headland and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The upper ward is dominated by the impressive great tower, or keep, which is the tallest structure within the castle. The keep was the heart of the fortress, providing accommodation for the castle’s lord and serving as a last line of defense in times of attack.
The great tower at Criccieth Castle is notable for its polygonal shape and its well-preserved upper floors, which showcase the original architectural features. Visitors can explore the chambers, climb the spiral staircases, and imagine what life was like within the castle walls.
One of the key features of Criccieth Castle is its stunning views of the sea and the surrounding countryside. On clear days, visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula, creating a picturesque backdrop for the castle. The coastal location of the castle also played a role in its defense, as it provided a natural barrier against attacks from the landward side.
Throughout its history, Criccieth Castle witnessed various conflicts and changes of ownership. After the death of Llywelyn the Great, the castle passed into the hands of the English crown, and subsequent Welsh uprisings led to further changes in ownership. It played a significant role during the Welsh Wars of Independence in the late 13th century.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle underwent further construction and expansion under the control of Welsh and English lords. However, by the 17th century, Criccieth Castle fell into disrepair and was no longer maintained as a military stronghold.
In the 19th century, Criccieth Castle gained renewed interest and appreciation, thanks to the romantic movement and the rise of tourism in Wales. Artists and writers flocked to the site, capturing its picturesque beauty and historical significance in their works.
Today, Criccieth Castle is managed by Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government. It is open to the public, allowing visitors to explore its ruins, learn about its history through informative displays, and take in the stunning views from its vantage point.
The castle’s location in the charming town of Criccieth adds to its allure, as visitors can stroll along the seafront promenade, visit local shops and cafes, and relax on the sandy beaches nearby.
Criccieth Castle stands as a testament to the rich history and architectural heritage of Wales. Its imposing ruins, breathtaking views, and connection to Welsh history make it a must-
Criccieth Castle, Criccieth. LL52 0DP
- Monday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Tuesday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Wednesday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Thursday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Friday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Saturday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Sunday10:00 am - 5:00 pm
These are the peak summer opening times.
Other times may vary. For full details please visit the CADW website.
Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Closed 24th, 25th, 26th December and 1st January.