Caerphilly Castle (Castell Caerffili) is a large medieval fortress in South Wales and one of the great medieval castles of western Europe. The castle was constructed in the 13th century and is surrounded by extensive artificial lakes considered to be “the most elaborate water defenses in all Britain”. The core residence of the castle is, in essence, an island. The castle occupies around 30 acres and is the second largest castle in Britain (only Windsor is larger). Besides its water defenses, it is also know for its concentric stone walls and large gatehouses. These were revolutionary defensive designs in the 13th century. Except for some expected restoration work, the castle today is much as it was in the late 13th century. It secured a starring role recently in the BBC TV series “Merlin”.
I first visited Caerphilly Castle in the 1980s and returned some 20 years later with my family, my boys almost in their teens. The castle had made an impression on me during my first visit, which remained during my second, especially on seeing it lite up at night. The sheer size of the place, the massive towers including a leaning tower (Oliver Cromwell’s work), the huge lake around it, all are make it a recommended stop for anyone visiting south Wales. Visiting it at night was actually one of the highlights of our time in Wales — magical!