Despite its relatively small size, the county of Caerphilly in southeast Wales is a region teeming with history. Over the centuries, the area has shifted from a medieval landscape dotted with stone fortresses to an industrialised, urbanised area renowned for its coal and iron industries.
The relics of these eras can still be witnessed today, such as at the magnificent Caerphilly Castle and at a moving monument to the Chartist Uprising.
Here are 5 of the best historic sites in the county of Caerphilly.
1. Caerphilly Castle
Caerphilly Castle is a vast 13th-century stronghold built to defend against Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. It was constructed at the request of English nobleman Gilbert de Clare, who sought to maintain his hold on the historic county of Glamorgan. When finished, Caerphilly was the second largest castle in Britain after Windsor, and only heightened tensions between de Clare and the native Welsh population.
Today, visitors can tour Caerphilly Castle and enjoy two on-site exhibits about its history. Its vast walls and many of its towers remain, including the northwest tower that now houses an exhibit on Welsh castles, as well as the southeast tower – still leaning at an alarming angle.
2. Chartist Bridge
The Chartist Bridge and Statue in Blackwood, Wales, is a crossing and sculpture named in commemoration of the 19th-century Chartist Uprising. The uprising saw Chartists march in droves on Newport in 1839, demanding parliamentary reform. 22 of them were shot dead by soldiers.
The turbulent moment in history is honoured by a Sebastien Boyesen statue, which depicts a Chartist protester marching on Newport.
3. Ruperra Castle
Built in 1626, Ruperra Castle was once a glorious stronghold, replete with Jacobean Chivalric architecture and frequented by a whole host of royal and noble visitors.
Ruperra Castle is currently in a dangerous state of ruin and stands on private land; don’t try to visit it up close. Instead, view the crumbling fortress from a distance by following one of several walking routes that circle its grounds.
4. St Martin Church
Built in 1877-1879, St Martin Church in Caerphilly replaced an older chapel which stood on the same site. It features Bath stone architectural decorations and ornate stained glass windows. The northwest tower was added in the early 20th century.
St Martin’s remains an active place of worship to this day.
5. Llancaiach Fawr
Situated near the Welsh village of Nelson, Llancaiach Fawr is a Tudor manor house built in around 1530. Renowned as having been the home of nobleman Colonel Edward Prichard in the 17th century, Llancaiach Fawr also hosted King Charles I of England in 1645.
Today, Llancaiach Fawr is open to the public as an interactive, living history museum. Visitors can expect historical reenactmants, educational classes and guided tours.