Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales and one of the biggest in Britain, covering 30 acres (12 hectares) with its extensive lake defences. It was built in 1268 by the powerful lord of Glamorgan, Gilbert de Clare, but it was never completely finished in his lifetime and from the 15th century it was allowed slowly to decay. Much of what you see today is restoration work in the 1930s, carried out by the 4th marquess of Bute, who then owned the caste. The lakes were restored in 1958.
During the 1250s and ’60s a bitter and protracted dispute between King Henry III and his barons allowed the price Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, to expand his territories within Wales. The dispute was eventually settled, but it left unresolved important questions of land ownership between Gilbert de Calre and Llywelyn in the Glamorgan uplands. The earl resolved on direct action to secure his interested in April 1268 begun building this castle at Caerphilly to maintain his hold over Senghenydd.
Caerphilly was at the forefront of the military technology of the day. The first deliberatley planned concentric castle, with the new ‘walls-within-walls’ defensive system, it was additionally surrounded by lakes to make a forced approach doubly difficult. Between the outer entrance and the inner heart of the castle ahead were 3 drawbridges, 6 portcullises and 5 sets of double doors.
Accessing Caerphilly Castle is easy enough by car, just a short trip up the A470 from Cardiff, come off at Nantgarw and simply follow the signs with the picture of a castle. Parking can be tricky so I would advise to park in a side street and take a short walk over to the castle. Caerphilly Castle is also very accessible by train from Cardiff and a short walk from Caerphilly train station.
Caerphilly Castle host a number of events throughout the year so it’s worth checking the events calendar for Caerphilly Castle and plan your trip accordingly