Snowdonia may be one of the most beautiful regions of the United Kingdom. The Welsh mountains, with their valleys and rivers offer a truly breathtaking view to anybody lucky enough to be there. But the national park is not only worth a visit for its natural beauty, it also houses a plethora of interesting historic sites.
Snowdonia has something for every taste, ranging from Bronze Age stone circles to medieval castles and remains of the Industrial Revolution.
Here are 10 of the best historic sites in Snowdonia.
1. Dolbadarn Castle
It is not for certain when the castle was built, but the best guess is that the imposing fortress was erected under Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) between late 12th to early 13th century. The stone structure predates the Norman conquests of Wales, showcasing the might of the local rulers.
These days the fortification stands as a ruin at the base of the Llanberis Pass. Visitors can freely explore the visible parts of the structure, while enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.
2. Tomen y Mur
One can find the remains of this Roman fort at the base of Mynydd Maentwrog hill. Created in 78AD by General Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the site potentially not only included walls and accommodation for Roman soldiers, but also a bathhouse, a mansion, a temple and an amphitheatre. Unfortunately almost nothing remains of these structures. The fort was abandoned in 140 AD until the 11th century, when the Normans used part of the site for their own purposes.
The site will provide one with not only fascinating history but also stunning views over the Moelwynion, Arenig and Rhinogydd mountain ranges.
Harlech Castle is a dramatic medieval stronghold and one of a ring of imposing castles built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289 during his conquest of Wales. With the rugged peaks of Snowdonia in the background, Harlech is one of four castles in the area, along with Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
Opposite the castle is a modern cafe which serves homemade food and is well worth a visit after an afternoon walking around the castle’s extensive grounds and battlements.
4. Yr Ysgwrn
The adorable 19th century Welsh farmhouse can be found in the village of Trawsfynydd. The house is famous for being the home of the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, who tragically died in World War One. Yr Ysgwrn has become a symbol of local poetry, but also a reminder of the pain that the Great War brought to the UK.
Visitors can book a guided tour to explore the house and be transported back in time. The surrounding land is still farmland, with cattle and sheep roaming around.
5. Cymer Abbey
The Cistercian abbey was founded in 1198, possibly under the patronage of Gruffudd and Maredudd ap Cynan. Many of its former riches were seized by Edward I, following his conquest of Wales. By the time of Henry VIII‘s dissolution of the monasteries, Cymer Abbey was considered to be unimportant and small.
These days the ruins provide a scenic backdrop and are definitely worth a visit. One can find the abbey in the Welsh town of Dolgellau.
6. Dolwyddelan Castle
These majestic ruins are located near to the village of Dolwyddelan. The castle is thought to have been built by Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and Wales in the 13th century. The fortification was able to keep the invading English forces at bay for a while, before being finally conquered by King Edward I in 1283. In the coming centuries the structure would slowly decay, before being partly restored in the Victorian era.
Dolwyddelan Castle is open to visitors who can enjoy the beautiful surroundings while exploring the fascinating history of this once formidable stone fort.
7. Bryn Cader Faner
Bryn Cader Faner is a rare survivor of Bronze Age Britain. With a diameter of 8.7 metres, the structure resembles something straight out of a fantasy movie. The site used to have more stone pillars, though many of these were damaged when the British Army used the site site for gunnery practice prior to World War Two.
This unique structure is found east of the small hamlet of Talsarnau.
8. Britannia Copper Mine
The remains of this early 19th century mine can be explored by the lake of Llyn Llydaw on the slopes of Mt Snowdon. The site was under insutrial use for roughly 100 years, before being abandoned in 1916. Mining is an intrinsic part of Welsh history, making the Britannia Copper Mine a survivor of a crucial era.
9. Carndochan Castle
Similarly to Dolwyddelan Castle, it is thought that Carndochan Castle was commissioned by Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century. Little is known about the ruined site, with archeological work uncovering more and more mysteries surrounding the fortification. It is unknown when the castle was abandoned, but some evidence suggest that at some point it was either sacked or it burned down.
There are only a few locations that could rival the village of Beddgelert in natural beauty. Surrounded by mountains, the picturesque settlement is an ideal starting point to explore Snowdonia in depth. The village is home to many restaurants, cafe’s, shops and hotels, providing travellers with all essentials for a succesfull trip.
One of the best ways to travel to Beddgelert is to take the old steam train from the town of Caernarfon. The railway tracks follow some truly stunning scenery, showcasing the best Snowdonia has to offer.