Harlech Castle was built by Edward I in 1283-1289 to subdue the Welsh. It was designed by the brilliant castle builder Master James of St George, and is one of a ring of great castles built to encircle North Wales. Today, the stone shell of the castle is still substantially complete, and it dominates the flat coastal land far below. The castle was intended to be resupplied by sea, and a defensible stairway leading down to water level still exists.
The large gatehouse is impressive whether viewed from the inside or the outside. The castle was originally surrounded by a lower outer wall which formed a narrow outer ward, but this outer wall is now much reduced in height.
Inside the single inner ward are the footings of various buildings, and the grand stair giving access to the lodgings in the gatehouse. Stairs in the eastern towers give access to the walkway on top of the main walls.
An impressive and substantially complete castle, well worth a visit.
If you are travelling to Harlech from the Menai area of North Wales, note that the A487 is a much faster road than the alternatives, and the “Toll” flagged up by your satnav is a single-track and toll-bridge shortcut across the Traeth Bach estuary east of Porthmadog, which costs 50p.