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10 places in Wales you can visit for free this weekend

This September, more than 200 of Wales’s most iconic landmarks and historic attractions are welcoming thousands of visitors as part of the Wales-wide heritage festival, Open Doors.

Funded and organised by Cadw, the festival annually offers free entry to an array of museums, heritage properties and unusual landmarks through the month of September.

From majestic castles to fascinating industrial heritage sites, here are 10 ways to make the most of Cadw’s Open Doors programme this weekend.

1. Discover Neath Abbey’s newly refurbished undercroft 

Neath Abbey

Described by Tudor antiquarian, John Leland as ‘the fairest Abbey in all Wales’, visitors to this monumental site can enjoy an expert guided tour around the Abbey, which housed Cistercian monks for centuries.

Visitors will also delve into the site’s undercroft — a recently refurbished chamber which has been inaccessible for several years due to ongoing conversation.

Neath Abbey — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
10am – 4pm
The guided tour will commence at 10am.
More information here.
Address: Neath Abbey, Neath, SA10 7DW

*Generally free entry but the Open Doors event will include guided tours and access to the undercroft — which is generally closed to the public.

2. Visit the awe-inspiring ruins of a magnificent medieval palace

St David’s Bishop’s Palace

Located alongside the tranquil River Alun in Pembrokeshire, take a walk around the beautiful St Davids Bishop’s Palace — a ruined medieval palace with a wealth of stories to tell.

The site’s fascinating history and architecture reflects the power and wealth of the church and its Bishops during the 12th century and beyond.

St Davids Bishop’s Palace — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.  

Address: High St, St Davids, Haverfordwest SA62 6PE

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

3. Peek inside the most impressive Norman building in Glamorgan

Ewenny Priory. Credit: Wikipedia

Originally built in the early 12th century, learn why Ewenny Priory has been described as the finest surviving example of a Norman priory church in south Wales. An expert guide will take visitors on a tour of the significant Norman Romanesque architecture which still serves as the local parish Church today.

Ewenny Priory — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Abbey Rd, Bridgend CF35 5BW

*Generally free entry but the Open Doors event will include exclusive guided tours.

4. Spot the carved monsters within Rug Chapel

The Rug Chapel

This event is one for the architectural enthusiasts. As visitors step inside this 17th Century Chapel, they’ll find an array of carved animals populating the walls and benches of the building — including scaly dragons and strange whimsical monsters.

Rug Chapel — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Rug Chapel, Corwen LL21 9BT

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

5. Experience historic Wales at Denbigh Castle

Denbigh Castle grounds, Denbigh North Wales.

Denbigh Castle is all about medieval drama ― and visitors can experience it for free on 28 and 29 September.

On arrival, visitors crossing the drawbridge into the triple-towered gatehouse will hear the portcullis thundering down, chains rattling and the din of horses and marching soldiers — all thanks to the impressive technological sensors!

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Denbigh Castle — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Denbigh Castle, Castle Hill, Denbigh LL16 3NB

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

6. Explore the magnificent medieval paintings at Llangar Church

Llangar Church

Sitting pretty above the Dee Valley, Llangar’s medieval origins date back as far as the 14th century. Enamoured with an impressive rustic touch, the parish church is home to some amazing medieval wall-painting that’s sure to pique the curiosity of art lovers!

Llangar Church — Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Llangar, Cynwyd, Denbighshire North LL21 9BT

*CURRENTLY INACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC.

7. Enjoy a glimpse inside Wales’s legendary Valle Crucis Abbey

Valle Crucis Abbey

A paradise for poets and painters alike, Valley Crucis Abbey — the Latin name for “Valley of the Cross” — is nothing short of sheer majesty.

Founded in 1201 by Prince Madog ap Gruffydd, Valley Crucis quickly established a reputation for hosting lavish and remarkable feats right up until its dissolution by royal decree in 1537.

Wonderfully atmospheric and beautifully preserved, a visit to Valle Crucis is a must for Open Doors visitors in north Wales.

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Valle Crucis Abbey, Llantysilio, Llangollen LL20 8DD

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

8. Discover Rhuddlan Castle ― a towering masterpiece in engineering

Rhuddlan Castle

Behind the beauty of Rhuddlan, which sits upon an idyllic riverside, lies a history of fierce contest and strategic warfare ― and Open Doors visitors can explore it all this September.

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Rhuddlan Castle, Castle St, Rhuddlan LL18 5AD

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

9. Enjoy spectacular coastal views from Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle

A castle ruin that’s fit for a Turner canvas, Criccieth Castle’s commanding coastal presence makes for perfect panoramic views across land and sea.

Built by two Welsh princes, Llywelyn the Great and his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Open Doors visitors will uncover the Castle’s role in the dangerous quarrels of Anglo-Welsh relations of the medieval age.

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Criccieth Castle, Castle St, Criccieth LL52 0DP

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

10. Discover Harlech Castle — a serene fortress with a stunning mountainous backdrop

Harlech Castle

Situated at the edge of a rocky crag on the foothills of Snowdonia, Harlech Castle is an imposing yet serene fortress that gazes over land and sea as far as the eye can see.

Open Doors visitors are invited to step inside Harlech’s formidable walls and discover why this medieval masterpiece played such a pivotal role in the War of the Roses, which inspired the acclaimed song ‘Men of Harlech’.

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September
11am – 4pm
More information here.

Address: Harlech Castle, Harlech LL46 2YH

*GENERALLY PAID ENTRY. See Cadw website for full details.

 

Search here for full event listings and details of all properties taking part in the Open Doors 2019 programme.

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