Portmeirion: A Hint of Italy

Back in May, I visited North Wales for a week. I’d never been to Wales before and absolutely loved exploring the beautiful countryside, castles and quaint towns, some of which I hope to share in future posts. However, the highlight of the trip would have to be a visit to Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales and I cannot wait to share the trip with you in this post. 

The village was built between 1925 and 1975 by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and appears almost be an Italian village set into the Welsh coat. We had such beautiful weather when we visited that it felt exactly like exploring the Mediterranean, not only from the stunning architecture but the almost tropical beaches that surround the estate.

Portmeirion Beach

Williams-Ellis bought the site in 1925, with the vision of developing a naturally beautiful location without spoiling its charm, but enhancing it through his designs. He had been searching for an appropriate area to fulfil his fantasy village for a number of years before coming across Aber Iâ estate. After purchasing the site, Williams-Ellis swiftly changed its name to Portmeirion; “Port-” from its place on the coast and “-meirion” from the county of Merioneth (Meirionydd), where the village is situated.

Portmeirion

The village was built in two stages, the first from 1925 to 1939 when the overall site was mapped out and the most distinctive buildings constructed. After a break in building as a result of the second world war, construction resumed between 1954-76 when the details of the village were filled in, including more residential looking buildings. The village as a whole display a range of architectural styles, from the Palladian elements of the striking porticos, arches and overall colour scheme of the site, to the heavy detail of the Arts and Crafts prevalent in the decorative elements adorning the buildings. Castell Deudraeth is also on the site, however, has a much earlier history, dating back to the 12th Century.

The varied styles and vivid colours of the village give it such a unique and distinctive feel truly enhancing the landscape as Williams-Ellis intended. As I mentioned, it was so sunny when I visited which definitely gave the village a Mediterranean atmosphere and enhanced the full effects of the colourful architecture against the blue sky.

Portmeirion (35mm film)

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis is best known for his design of Portmeirion, however also continued his rural preservation and activism outside of the village. Williams-Ellis was a founding member of both CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) and CPRW (now Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales), both created in the 1920s, whilst the village was being constructed.

Due to its romantic and picturesque appearance, Portmeirion has been used as a location for a number of films and television shows, most notably, as “The Village” in the 1960s television show The Prisoner. Today the village acts as a tourist destination and also a holiday village, with the buildings acting as self-catering cottages and some larger buildings as hotels. The charitable trust that now owns Portmeirion has also created a couple of shops, a cafe, tea room and restaurant in some of the other buildings, there are some beautiful items in the gift shop so well worth checking out!

Portmeirion

The grounds are just as beautiful as the village itself. As well as the exotic beaches and blue sea, there are also woodland areas with peculiar sites such as a ghost garden, dog cemetery and a Chinese pavilion and lake. There’s a train that goes around the grounds, but I found it much more fun to walk through the woods and climbing the winding paths which revealed such beautiful views of the village below.

Chinese Garden

I absolutely loved visiting Portmeirion and exploring both the village and grounds. Hope you enjoyed this post, for more information about the history of Portmeirion and information about visiting check out their website here!

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. artandarchitecturemainly says:

    Since the architecture was all carefully pre- planned and did not “develop” over hundreds of years, why the mixture of styles? Was it to take tourists through a fun learning experience?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first stage of building was during the 1920s-30s, shortly after the arts and crafts movement was at its height (1880-1920s). I feel this movement obviously inspired this first stage and detailed approach. With the gap before the next stage of building, due to the war, the arts and crafts style wasn’t so achievable or prevalent with a lack of materials, available craftsmen etc. due to the rebuilding of the UK. The second stage of building was more classical and I think this may have been simply to reflect the Italian villages he was inspired by and of course that the original style was no longer in vogue. And of course as you said this created a fun unique atmosphere, as the village was always intended as a tourist destination. Hope that answers your question! 🙂

      Like

  2. We were also there in May, I am form North Wales originally and had never visited for some reason. It’s a really interesting and beautiful place!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah definitely visit if you go back, it’s so beautiful and unique! Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

  3. teabeestrips says:

    It is so strange to find a place like that in Wales. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it was so amazing to visit somewhere so unique!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ThingsHelenLoves says:

    Fascinating, a visit there must be like stepping out of day-to-day life. I’d love to get there in the future. Great post, love the blend of heritage and travel inspiration!

    Like

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