A World Heritage Site, Beaumaris Castle is regarded by UNESCO as one of the finest examples of late 13th century military architecture in all of Europe. It is also known as the most “technically perfect” castle in Great Britain, with almost perfect symmetry in its architecture.
It is a truly “classic” castle, replete with all the trappings of every storybook fairy tale castle you can think of. Constructed according to a concentric, “walls within walls” plan, Beaumaris Castle was nigh impenetrable, especially as it was backed by the Menai Strait.
Construction of the castle began in 1295, hurried along by the Revolt of Madog, and was a major part of Edward I’s campaign into North Wales. However, Edward then decided to invade Scotland, and this caused a lack of funds to use for the castle’s completion. Fears of a further uprising in 1306 meant that funds were hastily diverted back to the project, but it was almost ludicrously expensive, and when works stopped in 1330 it unfortunately remained incomplete.
That didn’t stop it from playing its part in conflicts to come, however, with Beaumaris Castle being captured by Welsh troops during the Revolt of Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th Century. It was quickly retaken, and saw little fighting until the English Civil War, when it was occupied by Royalists. They remained for four years, until Parliamentarian forces drove them out.
After that, it unfortunately fell into disrepair, before eventually becoming part of an estate in the 1800s. Cadw (the Welsh Government's historic environment service) is now in charge of the castle, and it is run as a tourist attraction, drawing in around 75,000 visitors each year.
It is a beautiful castle, both from afar and from within, and provides some awe-inspiring views across the surrounding hilly countryside and over the Menai Strait towards Bangor and Aber. With a moat still filled with water, it is a truly idyllic castle, well worth exploring – especially in the summer months on a clear day, when the views stretch out for miles. Entry to the castle is free with a Cadw Explorer Pass.
Nearby you’ll also find the towns of Caernarfon and Amlwch. The former of these has a castle that’s at least equally impressive as Beaumaris, and arguably the most famous in all Wales. Caernarfon Castle is simply massive, and was used as a royal palace by Edward I. With plenty of interesting exhibitions and even the Regimental Museum of Wales’ oldest regiment, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, there’s a lot here to eat up your time. As for Amlwch, this is a small fishing town with some beautiful views of the Irish Sea. Sadly there is no beach to enjoy, but the spectacular cliffs more than make up for that tiny omission.
Click here to find out more about self-catered accommodation in Anglesey and North Wales. It’s the best way to go about your exploration of the Welsh coastline, countryside and castles – it offers you the complete freedom to go where you like and see what you want.
In the town of Beaumaris in the South East of Anglesey. Easily reached from either of the bridges onto Anglesey by following the coast road eastwards to Beaumaris
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