The spot occupied by the fortified town of Conwy on the Conwy Estuary is dominated by its magnificent castle, erected by Edward I as part of his 'iron ring' intended to quell the Welsh uprisings against the invading English. Owain Glyndwr, the hero of the Welsh resistance, managed to capture the castle in the early 15th century, but not for long. He was forced back into the mountains and pursued to Harlech. During the English Civil War the castle was beseiged by the parliamentary army for over 3 months. They then destroyed parts of it to prevent reoccupation by the Royalists. The castle's features include two fortified gateways, or barbicans, eight towers, a great hall and a chapel. Unlike other castles built around that time, there are no 'walls within walls' because its position on a rocky outcrop provided enough security for that feature to be deemed unnecessary. The castle has justifiably been granted World Heritage Site status, and visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. As well as its castle, Conwy's fortifications are complemented by over three-quarters of a mile of walls with 22 towers.
At the other end of the size spectrum, there is a house on the quayside which is claimed to be the smallest house in Great Britain. Quay House was first occupied in the 16th century, and the last inhabitant to occupy the house before it became a tourist attraction was a fisherman over 6 feet tall, which must have made for an interesting existence. Now visitors to the house are greeted by a lady in traditional Welsh costume and for a small entrance fee can enter the house - no more than four at a time though, which is all the house can take. Inside, the tiny beamed rooms contain old photographs and period household objects. Back in the town centre, Aberconwy House, a medieval merchant's house owned by the National Trust, is also open to visitors. St Mary's Church has the remnants of a former abbey built by the Maenan Monks. The monks were relocated by Edward I to a location near Llanwrst in the Conwy valley. On the east side of the estuary is RSPB Conwy, where at this time of year there are ducks and waders visiting from Siberia and the amazing sight of 'murmurating' starlings.
Map of the area.
|Conwy 1. Photo by Donatella Tronca, via Wikimedia Commons.|