Wales's World Heritage Sites reflect two crucial periods in the country's history. In the troubled 13th century when Wales was in conflict with England, an 'iron ring' of castles was constructed around Snowdonia. Today, they survive as some of the world's finest medieval monuments and four - Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech - have been singled out as World Heritage Sites.
World Heritage Sites of Wales
Fast-forward 500 years to the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the South Wales Valleys town of Blaenavon. This recently declared World Heritage Site had it all - influential ironworks and a coalmine that is now Wales's National Mining Museum. In July 2009, the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct and Canal was also awarded World Heritage status.
- Beaumaris Castle, North Wales
In architectural terms, Beaumaris Castle (Beautiful Marsh) on Anglesey is technically the most perfect of the medieval castles in Britain. Beaumaris is often referred to as the 'great unfinished masterpiece' as money ran out before if reached full height and for the visitor it is beautifully located on Anglesey, overlooking the Menai Strait.
The area around Blaenavon in South Wales is one of the finest surviving examples in the world of a landscape created by coal mining and iron making in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many of the original furnaces, foundry and workers houses can still be seen and visitors today can take a trip underground at nearby Big Pit colliery, certificate of excellence for 2016 by Trip Advisor.
Caernarfon was designed to be a fortress as well as a palace and administrative centre. The Castle and Walls surrounding the town are the World Heritage Site. Due to its size Caernarfon Castle is one of the most imposing medieval monuments in Wales. The castle was the setting for the investiture of HRH Prince Charles as Prince of Wales and was initially constructed not only for military purposes but also as a seat of government and royal palace.
This castle's military power comes from the rock on which it stands. High walls and 8 huge round towers give a dark and authentic medieval atmosphere. A visit to Conwy Castle is to step back in time.
Built between 1283 and 1289 by Master James of St George for King Edward I, the castle is designed on a concentric plan with a small but powerful inner ward dominated by an impressive twin-towered gatehouse and four round corner towers. Seized by Owain Glyndŵr in 1404 and held successfully by him for four years.
The country's longest and highest aqueduct and Thomas Telford's greatest civil engineering achievements. A cast-iron trough carries the canal 126 feet (38m) above the river Dee and the 200-year old structure is still welcoming thousands of canal boats each year.
Cadw offer 3 or 7 day World Heritage Explorer Passes.