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Dolbadarn Castle
Dolbadarn Castle
A Victorian Photochrom of Dolbadarn Castle
Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle is a medieval fortress situated near the village of Llanberis in Gwynedd, Wales. Built by Llywelyn the Great, the prince of Gwynedd, in the 13th century, it played a significant role in the defense and administration of the region. With its striking location and rich history, Dolbadarn Castle remains an intriguing landmark and a popular tourist attraction.

The construction of Dolbadarn Castle began around 1220, during a period of Welsh consolidation and resistance against the encroachment of English rule under King Henry III. Llywelyn the Great aimed to establish a stronghold in the heart of his territory, commanding the pass through the Llanberis Pass and providing a strategic point of control over the surrounding lands.

The castle was built on a rocky hillock overlooking Llyn Padarn, a glacial lake surrounded by the rugged peaks of Snowdonia. Its location provided a natural defensive advantage and allowed for visual dominance over the surrounding landscape.

Dolbadarn Castle consists of a circular keep, or tower, which is the focal point of the structure. The tower measures approximately 15 meters in height and has a diameter of 9 meters. The walls of the tower are built with local stone and feature narrow slits for archers to defend against potential attackers.

Access to the tower was originally provided by a wooden staircase, which has since been lost to time. The entrance to the castle is located on the first floor, reached by a ladder or stairway. The tower contains three levels, with the top level housing the living quarters and a fireplace.

The keep is surrounded by a curtain wall, which enclosed a small courtyard. The wall was originally topped with a wooden palisade and a walkway for defenders. The defensive capabilities of the castle were further enhanced by a ditch and outer bailey to deter potential attackers.

During its early years, Dolbadarn Castle played a vital role in Welsh politics and military affairs. Llywelyn the Great used the fortress as a base from which to administer his lands, enforce his authority, and repel English forces. The castle also served as a symbol of Welsh resistance against English dominance.

Following Llywelyn’s death in 1240, the castle gradually lost its strategic importance. With the rise of the English conquest of Wales, Dolbadarn Castle was bypassed in favor of other fortresses, such as Caernarfon and Conwy, which were built to consolidate English control over the region.

Over the centuries, Dolbadarn Castle fell into ruin. The site was abandoned and gradually became overgrown with vegetation. However, in the 19th century, there was a renewed interest in medieval architecture and historical preservation, and the castle received attention from antiquarians and artists.

One of the notable visitors to Dolbadarn Castle was the renowned landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, who created several sketches and paintings of the castle during his travels in Wales. His artistic interpretations helped to popularize the castle’s romantic allure and historical significance.

Today, Dolbadarn Castle is cared for by CADW, the Welsh government’s historic environment service. The castle is open to the public, allowing visitors to explore its atmospheric ruins and learn about its medieval history. Interpretive panels provide information about the castle’s construction, its role in Welsh history, and the landscape that surrounds it.

The castle’s location amidst the stunning landscapes of Snowdonia National Park makes it a popular destination for hikers, history enthusiasts, and photographers. The panoramic views from the castle’s vantage point offer breathtaking vistas of the lake and mountains, immersing visitors in the natural beauty of the region.


Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis. LL55 4UB

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Opening hours

  • Monday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tuesday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Thursday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Friday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Saturday
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sunday
    10:00 am - 4:00 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.

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