Featured image of Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle: The Largest Castle in Wales

LocationCaerphilly, County Borough, Wales (Google Maps Location)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byCadw (the Welsh Heritage Agency)
Official WebsiteCaerphilly Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Ceremonies)

Caerphilly castle is a 13th-century castle located in Caerphilly, Wales. It is known as the largest castle in Wales and the second largest castle in Britain. It has been the home of various kings and has seen many battles and sieges. Now, this castle grabs the attention of history buffs and curious tourists from around the world interested in knowing more about life in the Middle Ages.

Caerphilly Castle History

Caerphilly Castle-South East Tower
Caerphilly Castle-South East Tower by Lewis Hulbert, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Caerphilly Castle was started building in 1268 and completed by 1271 while following the medieval defensive architecture. It was built by Gilbert de Clare as a part of his campaign to maintain control of Glamorgan. It is believed that the leading site was burnt in 1270 and was taken over by royal officials at the beginning of 1271. However, these interruptions didn’t stop Gilbert from completing the castle and taking over the control of Caerphilly. At that time, it was the second largest castle in Britain after Windsor.

In 1294, the castle was attacked during the Madog ap Llewelyn revolt. However, it was not harmed and was used as the grand palatial home of the de Clare family. In 1317, Eleanor de Clare inherited the castle. He married Hugh Despenser, the villainous favourite of Edward II. Edward was overthrown by his wife, Isabella of France, and he fled to Caerphilly to escape her incoming forces. He stayed in the castle for a few years. Later, William la Zouche besieged the castle, where it fell in 1327.

The castle was passed through the marriage of Earls of Warwick. Some famous castle owners were Richard Neville, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, and then the uncle of Henry VII. In the late 15th century, the castle fell into decline. By the 16th century, the lakes surrounding the castle were drained off, and the walls were robbed.

In 1776, the Marquesses of Bute acquired the Caerphilly castle’s estate. Under the third and fourth Marquesses, extensive restoration work took place in the castle. In 1950, the castle was given to the state, and water defences were re-flooded. Now, Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency, manages the site. Caerphilly Castle remains in such a decent state that it’s provided the inspiration for many a fantasy castle, some of which you can read about here.

Caerphilly Castle Architecture

Caerphilly Castle Enhanced
Caerphilly Castle Enhanced by Jodelet, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 FR

Caerphilly castle has a defensive structure built from Pennant Sandstone. It is surrounded by the Moat on the east and the lake on the north. Its outer ward is formed through curtain walls. Only a narrow strip separates the inner ward from the outer ward. The east gatehouse is the highest part of the castle.

The outer ward of the castle can be entered via a bridge. It connects the east gatehouse with twin D-shaped towers. In the southeast corner, you will notice the large rectangular building that operated as a granary in the past. You can explore the remains of this castle during your visit.

Caerphilly Castle dragon
Caerphilly Castle dragon by Simon Burchell, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Overall, the castle site is around 30 acres, which makes it the second largest castle estate in Britain. It is believed that this castle introduced a concentric defence system in the country.

Inside Caerphilly Castle

The Great hall of the castle includes family chests of its past inhabitants. It will offer a glimpse of the castle’s history. The gatehouse also offers an exhibition about the castle. The vast walls and the remaining towers can also be explored during the visit. The stairs lead up to the castle’s roof, which offers a beautiful view of the city. It is overall a perfect playground for budding historians.

Visitors can enjoy the two on-site exhibitions about its history. They can buy the Caerphilly Castle tickets and explore the castle completely. Even an informative guide about the castle is offered at the gate.

Note: The ticket prices of this castle change with the seasons. It is £9 for adults and £6.30 for children during winters. And, this goes up to £10.10 and £7.20 during summers. 

Things to do during your visit to Caerphilly Castle

  • Climb castle towers, visit dragons in the Dragon’s Lair, chase filming locations, and explore medieval trebuchets.
  • Walk around the beautiful lake surrounding the castle.
  • Explore the castle’s leaning tower.
  • Check out the Great Hall and Staterooms decorated like medieval chambers.
  • Explore the siege weapons in the castle.

You can visit the castle via road as it’s only a 20-minute drive from Cardiff city to the castle. You can park your vehicle in its parking lot.

Caerphilly Castle Facts

  • The BBC TV show, Merlin, was filmed at this castle. After this castle appeared in the show, it started noticing more tourist traffic.
  • Many other films and TV shows shot at this castle are Doctor Who, Wolf Hall, Gawain and the Green Knight, Galavant, Sword of the Valiant, and Restoration.
  • Caerphilly castle weddings are filled with medieval time’s familiarity. The great hall of the castle is the favourite place for the ceremonies.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Caerphilly Castle built?

Caerphilly Castle was built in the 13th century by Gilbert de Clare, an English Nobleman, as a part of the Anglo-Norman expansion.

Who built Caerphilly Castle?

Caerphilly castle was built by Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare to make him look more powerful than the Prince of Wales. It was known as the biggest castle in Wales in the 1260s.

Who owns Caerphilly Castle?

Caerphilly castle is owned by Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency. It manages the site as a tourist destination.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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