fairy tale castle is as unusual inside as it is romantic on the
outside. Built for his family by the richest man in Wales, Castell
Coch, perched on the edge of a mountain is decorated with elaborate
and garish sculptures, including depictions of Aesop’s fables.
Castell Coch, or the Red Castle, as you see it
now, was built on medieval ruins and was designed by William Burges,
who also remodelled Cardiff Castle. Like Cardiff Castle it was paid
for by the 3rd Marquess of Bute and planned as a family summer retreat
from the city.
Burges died in 1881 before completion but the building continued
according to his detailed plans and was finished ten years later.
The gothic-fantasy castle has its obligatory
ghost – a Civil War Cavalier haunts an underground passage
guarding his treasure. Above ground are birds and animals, and other
mythological beings, and these feature in every decorative medium
– in carvings, moldings, stained glass and murals. Twisting
spiral staircases lead to wooden balcony viewpoints overlooking
the cobbled courtyard.
The castle turrets peak out over the A48 so the
visitor not only has easy access to the castle, but also a pretty
view as a gentle reminder if not visiting that day! Yet the castle’s
proximity to one of South Wales’ super highways does not mean
any disturbance of the peace. Around one side of the castle is a
secluded pitch and putt course in the shadow of the towers.
Coch is maintained by Cadw, the Welsh National Trust.