Aberystwyth is a unique little town on the Mid Wales coastline. It looks out, in and up – Cardigan Bay before, Cambrian Mountains behind. And, after one of its soul-enhancing sunsets, you can look up and see a billion stars above you. If you look within, you’ll find a Grade I listed castle that saw the likes of Owain Glyndŵr and Llywellyn the Great within its walls.
From castles to concert halls
There’s a cosmopolitan vibe that balances beautifully with the Welsh cultural heritage here. The grand facade of the National Library of Wales stands in juxtaposition to the nearby Arts Centre. At the former, you’ll find a Grade II listed building, the work of architect Sidney Greenslade and an elegant haven for Wales’ cultural history. With the latter, you’ll find RIBA award-winning galleries, theatre and concert hall, and artists studios with walls covered with crumpled steel.
Within the boundaries of the modern town you’ll find its castle. It’s a Grade I listed fortress, and its fortunes have risen and fallen over the centuries. In its time, it’s been a fortress and a Royal mint. And it’s passed between English and Welsh hands. As a result of its siding with the Royalists in the English Civil War it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. Stone from the castle was almost certainly used in nearby building work. Therefore, the castle is literally part of the fabric of the town.
The castle today.
So it’s a higgledy-piggledy place. And random bits of stonework crop up from the green grass. In its youth, it would’ve rivalled the great castles of Wales. Because of Cromwell, all that remains is a tall tower and some of the inner structure.
Today it’s accompanied by the town’s famous war memorial (which has its own unique history!). Often in the summer, it plays host to children kicking footballs, family picnics, and late-night movies. At Christmas time, it watches on as the town lantern parade kick-starts the festive season. And always the sea next to it, its eternal companion.
The castle is free to visit.