The sheer number of castles in North Wales attests to the region's historical importance in both military and governmental affairs. Several of the most notable castles in North Wales were part of the great "Iron Ring" of fortresses established by England's King Edward I. Caernarfon Castle is an imposing structure—placed at the southern end of the Menai Strait for strategic purposes and grandly designed to serve as a palace. Conwy Castle, with its eight massive towers, high curtain wall and harbor-side setting, is arguably the most impressive in Edward's Ring and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beaumaris Castle was the last and largest fortress built by Edward in Wales. Though construction was never completed, its concentric design and intimidating defensive measures make Beaumaris one of the most sophisticated examples of British medieval military architecture.
Medieval structures aren't the only impressive sites in North Wales. The region boasts four "Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty," including the hills of the Clwydian Range, the Gower and Lleyn Peninsulas, and the Isle of Anglesey off the coast. Outdoor activities in the Snowdonian Mountains range from sedate to adrenaline charged. There's bird watching and pony trekking, walking paths and biking trails. Melting snows from the Snowdonian peaks create fast-flowing rivers and streams for canoeing and white-water rafting adventures.
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