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.
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.
Join the Conversation
Somewhere you've never been? What is Nearby?
Conwy Castle is easily the most spectacular of all the castles in North Wales (and cost the most to build, too!). The castle was built for Edward I by Master James of St George, and is one of the most impressive surviving medieval fortifications in Britain.
Probably the most famous of all the many castles in Wales, and for good reason – its sheer scale dwarfs the others, and the town walls are still remarkably intact. Tourists can walk along a small part of the walls, which offers some fantastic views over the town. Also houses the museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Criccieth Castle was constructed on the headland between two beaches, meaning it watches over the town from above like a sentinel. Rather a lot of the original structure is still intact, allowing visitors to see an almost complete picture of what the castle would have looked like all those centuries ago, with their imaginations filling in the gaps.
Choose a cottage in the Snowdonia area for qucik access into the Snowdonia National Park. From remote cottages overlooked by soaring mountains to cottages in small villages you can find the right level of "countryside" for you.
Escape to the countryside and access nature straight from your front door. These cottages are away from towns and villages but often a short car journey from ammenities.
Enjoy peace, quiet and privacy in one of our remote properties. Surround yourself with nature and little else.