Caerphilly Castle rests within the rolling hills north of Cardiff, a concentric masterpiece with a fully flooded moat. The tremendous size of the castle and its two lakes makes Caerphilly the largest in Wales and the second biggest in Britain.
Built by marcher lord Gilbert de Clare between 1268 and 1271 as a response to the growing threat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the castle served as an effective defence against the Welsh.
It eventually fell into disrepair, causing the antiquary Leland to describe it as a ruin in 1539. Some damage has certainly been done to the castle, particularly to its leaning tower, which Cromwell may have attempted to destroy with gunpowder during the Civil War.
Caerphilly was later restored by the great medievalist, the Third Marquess of Bute in the latter half of the 19th century, to be completed at last in the 1960s. On the central island the 14th-century banquet hall is in superb condition, showcasing towering windows, carved corbels, and the coats of arms of previous owners.
Enjoy long walks around the well-tended grounds which offer beautiful panoramic views of the castle. Caerphilly Castle also boasts replica parapets and working siege engines. War enthusiasts and children should certainly take in the medieval siege experience with this full scale, operational weaponry which is always on display and demonstrated for visitors several times per year.
Once attacked but never taken, Caerphilly Castle is an example of the medieval war machine at its best.
Don’t miss: the replica timber parapet where plaster knights defend the castle.