Caerphilly is famous for its cheese and its castle. The cheese is delicious, light and crumbly and was a favourite with the old miners. The castle's strategic position can best be appreciated by driving over Caerphilly Common, the 800-feet ridge with hidden valleys and plantations, that separates the Caerphilly area from the low plain on which Cardiff is built. From the top of the hill above the town there is a fine view northwards over the former mining valleys of Glamoran and Monmouthishire.
The Romans were the first to understand the advantages of the site. They built a fort at Caerphilly around A.D.75 as part of their defensive network holding down the hill tribes of South Wales. The fort was well placed, within an easy day's march from Cardiff on a road that led northwards through Gelligaer to Brecon.
Castell Coch is located on the outskirts of Cardiff, is the ultimate fairytale castle. It is, of course, a romantic fantasy, a late 19th-century created inspired by the spirit of the Victorian Age. It was conceived by architect William Burges for his patron, the marquis of Bute, as a companion piece to the marquis's main home at Cardiff Castle. Sadly Burges died suddenly in 1881 before his work was finished. Completed by his colleagues, Castell Coch remains faithful to a unique vision which, although undeniably extravagant, was underpinned by a profound knowledge of medieval architecture. While the exterior, complete with working portcullis and drawbridge, faithfully echoes the look of a medieval castle, within the walls the exuberant spirit of the Victorian Age takes over completely. The castle's location is also enchanting, hidden away in beautiful woodlands overlooking a gorge in the Taff Valley from the site of the original 13-th century Castell Coch (the Red Castle).
WhereWhenWales' guided tour starts at Banqueting Hall and then onto the Drawing room, Winch Room and Kitchen, all located on the first floor, then the spiral stairways to the Keep tower and the Well Tower and finally the dungeons. Like most castles the steps tend to narrow towards the central stairway, so keep to the widest part steps and take your time. Photography is permitted inside the castle, so don't forget to bring your camera. The surrounding areas, especially from April 'til late October are stunning. Facilties on site include a gift shop, cafeteria and toilets.
If you are planning to visit this summer and travel independently, make a note that the castle closes at 5pm. Visitors occasionally arrive late afternoon and are disappointed to find the castle closed. CADW's website promotes audio headsets available, however on several occasions visitors have been informed that there are none available. Might prove worthwhile to check in advance of your visit.
13th century Norman fortress is one of the truly great stonghold of medieval Europe. Its massive walls and water defences gave it a strength barely surpassed by more than a handful of fortresses within the entire British Isles. Caerphilly stands as one of the finest and most ambitious architectural creations every raised during the Middle Ages. The castles position may not meet every expectation for a classic defensive location, it sits amid a bowl of rolling hills, its walls and towers partly camouflaged due to their consruction chiefly in the local Pennant sandstone. The true strength of the castle, rest in the scale of its architecture coupled with the outstanding defensive qualities of its two enormous lakes, all of which combine to make it the largest castle in Wales.
Virtually all of the major building at the castle was completed by 1271, largely in response to a major political and miltary threat posed to south-east Wales by Prince Llywelyn of Gwynedd.
For further information visit http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/