Located on the Cleddau estuary with a population of 7,200, Pembroke is a traditional medieval fortified town mostly surrounded by a moat and with the central main street running east from the gates of the castle.
The old town walls are remarkably intact and Pembroke Castle is one of the most complete Norman castles in the UK. It has endless rooms, spiral stone staircases, passages, battlements and turrets with fine views of the town and surrounding countryside and waterway from the top of The Great Tower. It was the birthplace of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.
The castle has a museum and during the summer months an extensive programme of dramatic events, re-enactments and festivals takes place within its walls. A few miles east of Pembroke at Lamphey is the Bishop's Palace with extensive remains of a lavish country retreat used by the bishops of St David's, with buildings dating from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.
This was a retreat for medieval bishops seeking to get away from the everyday world and the elegant palace was used by high-ranking clergy. Bishop Gower's 82 feet long great hall is a particularly fine architectural achievement and the western hall and the inner gatehouse are equally well-preserved and detailed. Lamphey Bishop's Palace is under the guardianship of Cadw and the site includes a visitor centre and a gift shop.
Pembroke Dock has a population of 8,700 and lies north-west of Pembroke; its history is rather more recent as it dates from 1814 when building commenced to coincide with the construction of the Royal Dockyard. The Gun Tower was built in 1851 to protect the Dockyard and it is now a museum illustrating the story of the town which once had the largest Royal Dockyard in the UK, launching 263 ships, submarines and five Royal Yachts; army regiments have also had a base here and for almost 30 years the RAF were also based at Pembroke Dock with Sunderland flying boats during WWII.