Beyond the folding hills and broad uplands of Carmarthenshire and West Glamorgan, lies Pembrokeshire. The county’s bold, rugged coastline is one of the region’s major attractions, drawing visitors from far and wide. But the ancient towns on the coast and further inland are also major draws themselves. Here’s a brief guide to our top five in no particular order, which we think should be part of any Pembrokeshire holiday itinerary.
Granted city status in 1995, St Davids is a fascinating village. Its famous cathedral is located in a hollow of the Alun Valley and was built by Bishop Peter de Leia in 1180. The most striking features include an intricate latticed oak roof, a 14th century rood screen and the monarch’s stall, which is reserved for the queen. Bishop Vaughan’s Chapel with its beautiful 16th century fan tracery roof is also a must-see. Other visitor attractions in St Davids include the evocative ruins of the Bishop's Palace and a 15th century Celtic Cross which marks the point where the main streets of St Davids fan out.
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This picturesque little town overlooks the broad sweep of Newport Bay and lies at the mouth of the Afan Nyfer. The local beach is excellent and there are plenty of fine walks to be had along the coast and nearby hills. There’s also a fine Norman Castle which was restored in 1859 and dominates the town’s skyline. The harbour area, which is known as the Parrog still features some of the original quay walls as well as two lime kilns.
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Few places in Pembrokeshire have such an eventful history as Tenby. Much of its illustrious past is evident in the buildings that dominate the town. Remains of the 13th century town walls are particularly impressive in places – the Five Arches is the most well-preserved section. The town’s centrepiece is St Mary’s Church with its elegant, 152ft spire but there are other historical attractions as well including the Tudor Merchant’s House on Quay Hill and the Norman castle remains. The harbour is of course one of Tenby’s most iconic areas and is backed by multi-coloured houses from Victorian and Georgian times.
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Narberth is a busy little town in the heart of the rural landscape of the Landsker Borderland. The town’s history can be traced back as far as the Mabinogion – a collection of ancient Welsh folk tales. Narberth is thought to have been the site of the court of Pwyll and its ruined 12th century castle was the home of Welsh princes. In addition to the fine castle, the unusual town hall is also worth seeing as is the Wilson Museum in Market Square which exhibits artefacts donated by local people. Narberth is considered to be the capital of the Landsker Borderlands and there’s plenty of information regarding the area in the Landsker Visitor Centre, which is located next to the town hall.
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One of the main attractions for anyone on a short break holiday in Pembrokeshire will be the magnificent castle, which is one of Pembroke’s main features. The keep was built shortly after the Norman Conquest in the late 11th century before being extensively rebuilt between 1189 and 1245. Despite lying derelict for hundreds of years, the castle has undergone further restorations and what remains is a wonderful monument to Pembroke’s tumultuous past. Other visitor attractions in Pembroke include its attractive main street of Victorian and Georgian houses as well as the fascinating Museum of the Home.
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