A view of the Mawddach Estuary on a clear spring day with woodland lining the shores.
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Part of Edward I’s defensive wall against the Welsh

Stunning is the only word to describe the view from the top of Harlech Castle. Yr Wyddfa and many of Eryri’s other mountains are visible from the walls of this medieval fort.

This is one of several castles built by Edward I during his campaign against the princes of Wales.

Building Harlech Castle

The military architect, Master James of Saint George, was commissioned to design the castle. The architect’s ‘walls within walls’ design is one of the simplest of Edward’s castles in Wales.

The simplicity of the design likely stems from the fact that the steep and rocky slopes surrounding the castle offer excellent natural protection.

Harlech Castle Sieges

The castle was built between 1282 and 1289, and over the centuries, it sustained several attacks by the princes of Wales, including the unsuccessful siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294-95 and a successful siege by Owain Glyndŵr in 1401. Edward’s forces recaptured the castle a year later.

The castle also endured a seven-year siege during the Wars of the Roses. This is the longest siege in British history. It is said that the beautiful tune ‘Men of Harlech’ was composed during this siege.

International recognition

Harlech Castle continues to stand over the town of Harlech. In 1986, Edward’s castles in Wales were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Harlech Castle still attracts many visitors today.

Visit Harlech Castle

Information about visiting Harlech Castle is available on the Cadw website.

Visit Harlech Castle (Cadw)