As I have mentioned in many of my blog posts, I love castles and I have joined CADW so my first free castle was Conway and it needs to be written about it on its own because, to me, it’s the most splendid castle in Wales. I visited it many years ago with my daughter while staying in North Wales for the Eisteddfod and we had a lovely day. At the time, I drove from Bangor but this time I approached from the A55 which is the opposite direction and coming from this direction enhances your first sight of the castle, because it completely dominates the entrance to the whole of Conway town and it just looks so majestic against the seaside and rocky mountain backdrop.
Part of the beauty of Conway is due to the amount of structure which is remaining, most of the castle and most of the town walls are still intact with magnificent towers to climb and many rooms and tunnels to explore. It is set up on a hill overlooking the town and also close to the sea, the walls around the original town are still intact and you can take a wander around the town along the top of the wall with special points of interest en route.
There are fantastic views from the castle and from the walls. Conway is a beautiful seaside village with lots of boats on the harbour which adds to the quaintness of the town and many of the buildings have been built with the same stone used to build the castle which is the same stone that the whole town is built on.
Conway Castle is part of the Ring of Steel castles erected by Edward 1st in his bid to conquer Wales; it was built between 1283 and 1289. Over the centuries it has played a part in many wars and it was completely ruined in 1665 when it’s remaining iron and lead were stripped and sold off. During the 18th and 19th century many painters visited with the aim of capturing the splendour of the castle and the surrounding area. By the 21st century CADW had taken over and now manage it as one of the most visited tourist attractions in North Wales which has also been classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Just for comparing purposes Macchu Picchu the ancient Inca village in Peru is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I have visited a lot of castles since I have been staying in North Wales but there were a lot more visitors at this one, luckily it is so big there was room for us all. There are eight towers with the four at the centre being the highest and you can climb most of them, with fantastic views from the top across the river to Llandudno and the Great Orme. Two bridges were built across the river linking Conway to Llandudno and still remain but only to walk across. A road bridge was built in 1826 which was a suspension bridge built in the style of Menai suspension bridge by Thomas Telford and a tubular design rail bridge was built in 1845 at the same time as the Brittania bridge over the Menai straits by Robert Stephenson.
On the day I visited the weather was not at its best but the views were still glorious, however, by late afternoon the sun was starting to appear which always makes things look a lot better, by this time I was on the walk around the town walls, which is great for getting fantastic views of the castle, it is very steep in parts and can be a bit of a climb, it starts from the castle then picks up behind the railway station all the way around to the riverside and harbour with all the boats.
A lot more houses have been built since the castle was built and many more houses surround the town walls nestling into the mountainside, which makes it very picturesque.
In the town there are other attractions such as the manor house which is a Victorian house open to the public, sadly I never made it inside because I spent too much time in the castle and it was closed by the time I finished the town wall walk. There is also a tiny house known as the smallest house in Wales where you can go inside to take a look at just how tiny it is.
If I had more time in North Wales I would have spent it in Conway, a beautiful town with lots of lovely places to eat and drink, plenty of lovely views and lovely scenic walks.