Historic Attractions in South and West Wales
Court and Castle
A visit to Tretower Court and Castle is a unique journey through history spanning five centuries. Against the backdrop of the Brecon Beacons stands a stark round tower, clearly a military fortification of great antiquity. Its companion piece, in contrast, is a handsome stone manor house.
Oldest Tretower is a substantial 13th century stone keep built on the remnants of an earlier Norman earthwork castle. By the more settled 14th century, the castle's inhabitants felt secure enough to build a spacious new court. This evolved into the glorious house we now see before us, a fine example - rare in Wales - of a grand late-medieval country residence adorned with exceptional woodworking.
Access:- Signposted in Tretower Village, off A479 3 miles North West of Crickhowell.
Telephone:- +44 1874 730279 - Railway:- Abergavenny 10 miles.
Davids Bishops Palace
This imposing medieval palace stands in a grassy hollow next to purple-stoned St Davids Cathedral. Even in ruin, the palace - unequalled anywhere else in Wales - still conveys the affluence and power of the medieval church.
It is largely the work of the energetic Bishop Henry de Gower (1328-47). No expense was spared in creating a grand residence fit for a major figure of both Church and State. De Gower's palace boasted two complete sets of state rooms arranged around a courtyard, one for his own use, the other for ceremonious entertainment. The palace is richly embellished throughout with lavish stone carvings.
Telephone:- +44 1437 720517 - Access:- A487 to St Davids, minor road past Cathedral.
None of the Cistercians' Welsh abbeys preserves that original spirit of remoteness more strongly than Strata Florida. There is much to captivate the visitor at this evocative, historically important site. The abbey, founded in the 12th century, grew to become a powerhouse of Welsh culture patronized by princes and poets. Although in ruin, Strata Florida displays much evidence of its former status, including a wonderful carved doorway and beautiful medieval tiles.
Telephone:- +44 1974 831261 - Access:- Minor roads from Pontrhydfendigaid, reached from B4340 or B4343.
Caerleon is Britain's most fascinating and revealing Roman site. It was founded in AD75 as one of only three bases in Britain for the Roman's legionary troops. These elite soldiers enjoyed the conveniences of an entire township, complete with amphitheatre and bath-house.
The excavated remains of their barracks blocks - the only examples currently visible in Europe - stand in green fields near the fortress baths, a giant leisure complex equivalent to today's sports and leisure centre. The well preserved amphitheatre, with seating for 6,000, was the setting for bloody combat involving wild beasts and gladiators. Finds from Caerleon's extensive excavations are displayed at the town's Legionary Museum.
Access:- B4596 to Caerleon, M4 (Junction 25) - Railway:- Newport 4 miles.
Telephone:- +44 1554 890104 - Joint tickets to the museum are available.
For further information on Wales's Wealth of historic sites write to:-
Cadw, Plas Carew, Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed, Park Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QQ, Wales, UK.
Telephone:- +44 1443 33 6000
Fax:- +44 1443 33 6001
Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. Crown Copyright.
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