A huge green courtyard is one of the highlights of Caernarfon Castle. (photo: Gretchen Strauch) A classic moat surrounds Beaumaris Castle, perhaps the most romantic castle in Wales. (photo: Rick Steves) Humble, charming little Wales is a land of lusty men's choirs, salty harbors, slate-roofed villages, stunning mountains, and stout castles.
For many travelers, these mighty castles alone are reason enough to visit, and Wales is slathered with them. During the late 13th and early 14th centuries, English King Edward I started building these awe-inspiring fortresses — arguably the most breathtaking you'll find anywhere in Europe — to subdue the rebellious Welsh. These castles were masterpieces of medieval engineering, built with state-of-the-art castle technology, with sea access to restock from England.
In the Middle Ages, the standard castle was a simple stone building (“keep”) on a hill (“motte”), surrounded by a wall that enclosed a yard (or “bailey”) where the people li..