In simple terms, Cadw is like the Welsh version of English Heritage (and yes, if you have an English Heritage membership, you can get either free or reduced entry to Cadw sites). The Welsh government run Cadw works to conserve and protect Wales’ heritage. Not just the physical buildings but the mythology and legends which are woven in to the fabric of Welsh society.
They are the keepers of some of the most beautiful castles in the world and we have many in Wales (over 600 in fact) and some of the sights are so old it is hard to comprehend that they still exist. Burial chambers in Snowdonia from the neolithic period will give you some idea of just how long civilisation has existed in these parts.
One of the many great aspects of Cadw is just how well they introduce the rich heritage that Wales has to offer. There are such a large number of castles, abbeys, chapels, ancient monuments, and walks that sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming where to start. If you take the time to go through their website, there are lots they have done to make this easier for you. In addition to the logistics, a huge amount of work has gone into making a visit to these ancient places really memorable. Not only with the events they put on but the technology to heighten the overall experience.
I love the Wales History Map section (http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/waleshistorymap/?lang=en) – broken down into 12 historic themes, there is a road trip for each one. To accompany your road trip, they have also commissioned a welsh road trip playlist. A compilation of Welsh artists you can download and listen to as you drive your way around our beautiful countryside taking in all the sights.
Investment has been put into the sites to bring them more into the 21st Century… Pokemon has some very unique and colourful characters that can only be collected within the walls of these great places. A number of interactive CGI demos show you how the castles looked during their heyday. I personally love this aspect as, especially for the younger ones to really get a feel of what it would have been like back in the day.
Events are run throughout the year, covering all the major holidays; you’ll certainly find Easter, Halloween and Christmas events but I think my most favourite has to be the silent discos. I went to one in Harlech and it was one of the best evenings I had had in a long time. A history lesson of how the castles came about and the battles that took place. All this done to amazingly camp music and everyone, I mean everyone dancing away under the evening sky in one of the worlds most wonderful castles – amazing!
There are lots of membership options which are all covered in their website. But the tickets that I really think are great value are either the 3 day or 7 day Explorer Passes. Giving you access to all Cadw sites over a period of either 3 or 7 days (depending on what you go for). You don’t have to use on consecutive days, but there are conditions. If visiting the sites are something you are interested in, then you should look into this.
For more information, please visit their website: CADW