Commanding Castle on the Hill
Standing sentinel on its tree-clad hill overlooking the mouth of the Tywi estuary, Llansteffan Castle suddenly appears to the short break in Wales visitor travelling by train from Llanelli to Carmarthen as a magnificent fortress across the water.
On calm days it is reflected in the estuary and is a favourite subject for artists.
Built by the Normans in the 12th century it has a magnificent gatehouse through which the short break in Wales visitor must pass to view the impressive structures in the interior, many of them built as added defenses against the warring Welsh who attacked it many times over the centuries.
Short break in Wales tourists who accept the challenge of the steep path up to the castle will find their efforts well rewarded. The panoramic views are spectacular in all directions, and to the east the trains crawl like colourful caterpillars along the shore at Ferryside while at low tide the wide expanse of Cefn Sidan sands, where the unwary can be caught out by the speed of the incoming tide, can be seen in the distance.
The caste is not the first fortress to have been built on this lofty cliff top. Short break in Wales visitors will be shown the remains of an Iron Age fort almost hidden but still visible amid the bracken, golden gorse and trees in front of the castle. It was not only the Normans who could recognise a perfect strategic site.
Llansteffan was attacked and captured on several occasions by the Welsh princes of Deheubarth, including the mighty Lord Rhys. The short break in Wales visitor will hear of its capture in 1146, 1189, 1215 and 1257 and in the 15th century by Owain Glyndwr and its eventual recapture by Henry 11 who gave it to the Norman family de Camville who maintained control until 1338.
In 1495 Henry V11, who was born in Pembroke Castle, gave it to his uncle Jasper Tudor.
For 200 years the castle lay a neglected ruin, part of a local farm, but in more recent years, the short break in Wales visitor will be glad to know, it has been restored and is now under the care of CADW, the Welsh Historic Monuments department of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Its impressive architectural features, its picturesque setting and its panoramic views, together with its colourful history make Llansteffan castle a fascinating visit for short break in Wales travellers.