Conwy Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Conwy Castle

Conwy, Wales, United Kingdom

Conwy Castle is one of a ring of medieval strongholds built in Wales by King Edward I, and is today a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site.

Lily Johnson

12 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle is a magnificent 13th century stronghold constructed by Edward I, that today makes up one of four castles in Wales named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Conwy Castle history

Constructed under the orders of King Edward I and built between 1283 and 1289, Conwy Castle was one of an ‘iron ring’ of strongholds commissioned to establish the king’s dominance over Wales. It was overseen by master mason James of St. George, and once complete was a striking display of royal power.

In 1294, Conwy Castle was briefly besieged by Madog ap Llyewlyn during a period of Welsh rebellion against English authority, and in the 14th century became the refuge of Richard II from the forces of Henry Bolingbroke, who later took the throne as Henry IV.

It was in the chapel of Conwy Castle that Bolingbroke’s emissary, Henry Percy, promised Richard II that no harm would come to him should he abdicate. This promise would be broken the following year however, when Richard died in captivity at Pontefract Castle in 1400, likely having been starved to death.

Conwy Castle would again face conflict with the Welsh in 1401 during the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr. Glyndwr’s cousins Rhys and Gywlim ap Tudur launched a surprise attack on the castle, sneaking in as carpenters before killing the guards and taking control of the fortress for 3 months.

During the English Civil War, Conwy was initially a royal stronghold before falling to Parliament in 1646. Following this, the castle was slighted, or purposefully damaged to put it beyond military use, and eventually fell to complete ruin in the late 17th century.

Conwy Castle today

Today, Conwy Castle is managed by Cadw and is open to the public. With its imposing towers and turrets and a striking position high over the Conwy estuary, the castle remains an atmospheric and picturesque site.

Though now a shell, the structure of Conwy’s many different rooms may still be explored, with information boards detailing their former use. From Edward I’s royal apartments to the Great Hall, Conwy allows guests to immerse themselves in what was once a thriving stronghold, with dramatic art installations around the site further bringing to life its fascinating history.

Climbing its restored staircases through the great towers, a complete circuit of Conwy Castle’s battlements may also be undertaken, affording stunning views over the estuary and Conwy’s winding streets. It is one of the most magnificent medieval castle’s in Europe, and as such is one of four Welsh castles built by Edward I listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, alongside Caernarfon, Harlech, and Beaumaris.

Getting to Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle is located in the town of Conwy in Wales, and can be reached via the A55 or B5106 road. The nearest car park is the Vicarage Gardens Car Park directly next to the site, however this is often busy during peak season so it is advised that visitors use parking elsewhere, such as the nearby Morfa Bach Car Park, a 5-minute walk to the site.

The nearest train station is Conwy, a 3-minute walk to the site, while a number of bus services stop at the Castle Square stop, a 2-minute walk away.

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