Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks’ North Wales Fortress

Time Resting on the River Seiont banks in northwestern Wales, Caernarfon Castle more than earns its reputation as a crowning achievement of Middle Ages architecture.

Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks' North Wales Fortress 1

Taking its name from the once-sleepy fishing hamlet of Caernarfon, Gwynedd, the castle now stands as a grounding structure in the World Heritage Site, which also includes Beaumaris, Harlech and Conwy Castles, all built as King Edward 1’s “iron ring” of castles.


Edward I

Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks' North Wales Fortress 2
‘Edward I’, 1935. Edward (1239-1307)

After bitter battles with the Welsh royal princes, King Edward I, known as ‘Longshanks’, staked his claim as the victor of the territory after defeating Llywelyn ap Gruffud, the final Welsh-born Prince of Wales.

As a symbol of the new reign, King Edward 1 brought the glorious Caernarfon Castle to life. Though the project began in the summer of 1283, it took 47 years for full completion.

But that didn’t stop the King from bringing his Queen Eleanor to live amidst the growing grandness as early as 1283.

Staying first in a rustic apartment and then returning the next year to more suitable accommodations, the royal couple became a family when the birth of their first child, Edward of Caernarfon, launched what became an enduring royal dynasty.


Caernarfon Castle Construction

Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks' North Wales Fortress 3

Master James of St. George, a renowned military architect favoured by King Edward 1, deep-dived into the decades-long castle project, culminating in a massive multi-coloured stone fortress with nine strategic polygonal towers, decorative stone eagles, and the imposing curtain walls and King’s Gate to monitor entry by would-be invaders.

A time-worn statue of King Edward 1 glares from above the outside King’s Door, which harbours numerous “murder holes” for dispensing boiling oil and scathing hot water upon unsuspecting intruders. The building project also established walls around the entire town as well as a quay for incoming ships.


The Royal Family Moves In

Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks' North Wales Fortress 4

The Royal Family and its eventual heirs took up residence inside the thick walls of Eagle Tower, whose three picturesque turrets still crown the complex today.

For more than 700 years, the eldest son of the British king has taken the title of Prince of Wales, with the castle earning its ongoing birthright as the royal heritage site.


Current Use & Owners

Caernarfon Castle | Longshanks' North Wales Fortress 5

Though the current title holders no longer live in the castle, royal investitures on the grounds still occur.

Edward Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, received the title at Caernarfon Castle in 1911, followed by Prince Charles in 1969 (see photo), who is next in line to the British throne.

The castle now thrives in care of the Welsh government’s historical arm known as Cadw, a word meaning to “keep and protect.” It oversees 44 of the 427 castles in Wales.


Visitors Information

Visitors enter the original curtain walls through either the King’s Gate or Queen’s Gate of Caernarfon Castle, and can explore the fascinating Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, chockful of ancient uniforms, guns and weapons of destruction.

The Eagle Tower tosses unsuspecting tourists into an interactive history experience, while Chamberlain Tower cradles the investiture throne and royal accoutrements.

Admission prices and opening times vary throughout the year, and can be found here.


Other Welsh Castles To See

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle | South Wales Medieval Stronghold

Situated in the town of Caerphilly, in South Wales, this medieval stronghold is the second largest in the UK, surpassed…

Chepstow Castle and town on the River Wye, Gwent, on the border between England and Wales, UK

Chepstow Castle, Wales: Gorgeous Norman Castle On The River Wye

Chepstow Castle, located in Monmouthshire, South Wales, is a stunning fortress overlooking the River Wye. The castle was initially constructed…

castell coch

Castell Coch | Discover This Fairytale Welsh Castle

The magnificence of Castell Coch in South Wales is due to its distinctive conical roofs. This castle is a wonderful image of…

edward i welsh ring of iron castles

Edward I’s Ring Of Iron Castles | Caernarfon, Conwy & More

The English King Edward I conquered Wales in the late 13th century. In order to consolidate his power, and cow…

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle | Medieval Castle In Welsh Capital

Cardiff Castle is a Norman keep and Victorian Gothic revival mansion in Wales. The castle has been used as a…

Caerphilly Castle | South Wales Medieval Stronghold

Caerphilly Castle

Situated in the town of Caerphilly, in South Wales, this medieval stronghold is the second largest in the UK, surpassed only by Windsor Castle. What…

Chepstow Castle, Wales: Gorgeous Norman Castle On The River Wye

Chepstow Castle and town on the River Wye, Gwent, on the border between England and Wales, UK

Chepstow Castle, located in Monmouthshire, South Wales, is a stunning fortress overlooking the River Wye. The castle was initially constructed around 1067 by William FitzOsbern,…

Castell Coch | Discover This Fairytale Welsh Castle

castell coch

The magnificence of Castell Coch in South Wales is due to its distinctive conical roofs. This castle is a wonderful image of an imagined medieval world. Even…

Edward I’s Ring Of Iron Castles | Caernarfon, Conwy & More

edward i welsh ring of iron castles

The English King Edward I conquered Wales in the late 13th century. In order to consolidate his power, and cow the rebellious Welsh into submission, he built…

Cardiff Castle | Medieval Castle In Welsh Capital

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is a Norman keep and Victorian Gothic revival mansion in Wales. The castle has been used as a filming location for many movies…

Beaumaris Castle | Explore Edward I’s Unfinished Masterpiece

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle was built to be the titan of castles: four rings of fortress-style defence walls and a moat so vast it needed its own…

Click Here For More Castles > British Castles