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Castle Dolbadarn Castle
Daily 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Free!
“Dogs on lead welcome”

Found right at the base of the Llanberis Pass – the route that takes hikers from the town of Llanberis all the way to the top of Mount Snowdon – this Grade I listed building was built towards the beginning of the 13th century and still commands an imposing presence to this day.

If you were to ask a hundred people what the first thing that came to mind when thinking of North Wales was, we’re pretty sure a decent majority of those people would say “castles”. There are five major castles in North Wales alone, not to mention a number of smaller ones, as well as some more which are more ruinous. The sheer choice alone makes North Wales (a relatively small area) a fantastic destination for any budding archaeologist or history buff. One of the lesser-known major castles is Dolbadarn Castle.

It was constructed under the orders of Llywelyn Fawr (“the Great”), the Welsh prince, and stood as a symbol of the military might of Wales at the time. Unfortunately, when King Edward I was in the midst of his Welsh Conquest, Dolbadarn lost a lot of its relevance as a military stronghold. He decided to remove some of the timbers from this castle, and to put them to use in the construction of a new one – the decidedly impressive Caernarfon Castle.

After this, the castle was used as a manor house. Sadly for us, by the start of the 18th century, it had fallen into ruin and was thus uninhabited. However, this gave it a new lease of life in a sense – it became a very popular subject among painters of both the Picturesque and the Sublime schools. Famous examples of artists who painted Dolbadarn Castle include Richard Wilson and J. M. W. Turner.

Since 1941, the castle has been under the care of Cadw, the Welsh historic environment service, meaning it is operated as a tourist destination and kept in fantastic condition. The Great Tower is the main attraction here, as it is the most complete section of castle that remains. The late historian, Richard Avent, said about the Great Tower: it is “the finest surviving example of a Welsh round tower”.

The rest of the castle is, unfortunately, in ruins. However, it is still worth a visit, especially when the surrounding landscape is taken into consideration. The Great Tower remains magnificent, standing sentinel-like over the Llanberis Path and the forests and lakes of Snowdonia National Park. It adds to the rugged beauty of its mountainous home.

For a taste of a truly Welsh castle, rather than one constructed during the English invasion, Dolbadarn is the one to visit. Combine your trip with a walk up Snowdon to experience the natural beauty of North Wales alongside the man-made. Click here to find out about our accommodation in the area and discover it for yourself. Make sure to visit the lovely town of Llanberis while you’re there, and take a trip around the lake on the railway – it’s beautiful.

Location

Situated just outside the town of Llanberis next to Llyn Peris with a pay and display car park near by.

It's around 300m from the car park to the castle, the path is quite steep and uneven.

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