The 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.
Castell Coch is maintained by CADW. Visit the official Castell Coch website.
Directions from Holiday Cottage
Getting to Castell Coch from Swansea Valley Holiday Cottages is easy. Simply head along the M4 towards the east and the castle is signposted just off Junction 32 outside Cardiff. The castle postcode is CF15 7JS. For your return, the holiday cottage postcode is SA8 3JQ.