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Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle - Overview

Conwy Castle was built by the English king Edward I between 1283 and 1287 as part of his conquest of Wales and is regarded as one of the finest examples of thirteenth-century fortified architecture. It was one of the key sites in Edward’s attempt to subject the Welsh to his rule by enclosing north Wales with an ‘iron ring’ of castles, supplied with goods and food by English colonies set up in adjacent fortified towns. Like all of his major Welsh castles, Conwy Castle is situated on the coast so that construction material and military supplies did not have to cross hostile terrain, but were instead delivered by boat. However, as Edward’s assets began to run thin by the early fourteenth century, the castle and town were poorly equipped and suffered from shortage of supplies.

In 1399, King Richard II found refuge here from the insurrection of Henry Bolingbroke, soon thereafter crowned King Henry IV. Two years later, the castle and town were again visited by insurgence as they were taken over by rebels under the leadership of Owain Glyndŵr. Although the castle was refortified during the Wars of the Roses, it played no significant part, but was successfully held for Charles I during the English Civil War.

With the rise of modern tourism in the late eighteenth century, the now ruined castle became a chief picturesque travel destination on tourists’ journeys along the northern coast of Wales. After the construction of Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge and the Chester to Holyhead Railway, interest in its conservation increased and, in 1865, restoration works on the castle began after it passed into the ownership of the town. In 1986, Conwy was recognised as part of UNESCO’s Castles and Town Walls of Edward I World Heritage Site together with Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Harlech. Today, Cadw maintains Conwy Castle for the nation.

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