Sometimes called the Welsh Riviera, the village was designed and built by the famed architect, Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis. The design was reportedly based on the Italian fishing village of Portofino, which Williams-Ellis had visited and fallen in love with, saying “its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site”.
The Italianate village of Portmeirion is a somewhat unusual place. It is a beautiful village, this much is true, but it is definitely not what you might expect to find on the west coast of Wales!
The design and construction of the village took fifty years, from 1925 to 1975, and visitors leave Portmeirion convinced that every moment was worth it. Unfortunately, Williams-Ellis never lived to see the final touch – Castell Deudraeth wasn’t incorporated fully into the village until 2001, almost 25 years after his passing.
A lot of the buildings in Portmeirion incorporate fragments of demolished and derelict buildings, and a number of features were sourced from elsewhere. The works of the village are deliberately fanciful, and they invoke a strange nostalgia for something that never really existed. Williams-Ellis’ work here is regarded as a major influence on the 20th-century architectural postmodernism movement.
The village itself sits on the shore of the River Dwyryd’s estuary, with a beautiful stretch of sandy beach that offers up the perfect spot for a bit of sun bathing or paddling.
Portmeirion’s unique personality is a major factor when it comes to its popularity with tourists. Williams-Ellis designed it with a real sense of whimsy – just by viewing a couple of the buildings you can get an idea of the fun he must have had with it.
Take Unicorn Cottage as an example. From a short distance away, it looks like your typical Georgian stately home, even if it is painted pink. Get closer, however, and you’ll soon sense that something is a little… off with the property. This is because Unicorn Cottage is in fact a mere bungalow! Using tricks like a small gate, stretched windows and long pillars, Williams-Ellis built the bungalow like an optical illusion, making visitors think it’s a lot bigger than it really is.
Portmeirion is a popular tourist attraction, in part because of its beautiful architecture and in part because of its location. There are two further reasons as to its popularity, however. One is the fact that it was the setting for the cult 1960s mystery TV show, The Prisoner. That’s right – The Village was actually Portmeirion! A convention is held each year in Portmeirion, celebrating the programme.
Another, more recent, bolstering to its tourism came in 2012, which was the first year of the Festival Number 6. This boutique music and arts festival is uniquely suited to its location, and has seen artists such as Beck, Belle & Sebastian, New Order and Caitlin Moran perform.
If you are hoping to discover Portmeirion’s unique and whimsical charms for yourself, click here – we can offer a wide range of accommodation in Gwynedd and elsewhere in North Wales.
You can reach the site by car on the A487 or by train to Blaenau Ffestiniog where you can change to the Ffestiniog and Highlands Railway which operates narrow guage steam trains.
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Somewhere you've never been? What is Nearby?
Criccieth Castle was constructed on the headland between two beaches, meaning it watches over the town from above like a sentinel. Rather a lot of the original structure is still intact, allowing visitors to see an almost complete picture of what the castle would have looked like all those centuries ago, with their imaginations filling in the gaps.
These are two separate railways, both of which operate historic steam engines with comfortable carriages that will carry you through the often beautiful countryside in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. This is the longest railway journey of its type in Britain.
Snowdonia – known in its native Welsh as Eryri, which is often translated to “place of the eagles” – is a beautiful part of the United Kingdom. Covering 823 square miles of idyllic Welsh countryside, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and beaches, Snowdonia is paradise for any hiker, climber, fisher, swimmer, sailor, surfer, sunbather, potholer, zip-liner… the list goes on.
Portmeirion is a place you have to visit during your stay in North Wales. In the beautiful location of the Dwyrd Estuary the Architect Clough Willimas-Ellis created an Italianate Village. This wonderful backdrop was used as the film set for the series "The Prisoner" and is now the site of Festival Number 6 (first week in September each year). Also in the area is the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways and the location gives easy access to the Llyn Peninsula and the Snowdonia National Park.
Explore the most Westerly part of North Wales with its many beaches and green rolling countryside. A cottage in the Lleyn Peninsula is the perfect way to explore the area - visit Whistling Sands Beach, the spectacular golf course in Nefyn with its picturesque fishing village, a boat trip to Bardsey Island or spend time in one of the local towns such as Abardaron, Abersoch, Pwllehli or Criccieth.
Choose a cottage in the Snowdonia area for qucik access into the Snowdonia National Park. From remote cottages overlooked by soaring mountains to cottages in small villages you can find the right level of "countryside" for you.