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Visitors arriving in Portmeirion for the first time could be forgiven for thinking that they had arrived in a typically colourful Italian-Mediterranean village. In fact, that was the intention of Portmeirion's designer; the renowned Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
Beginning in 1925 and taking inspiration from the Italian holiday villages he loved visiting, William-Ellis set about recreating a post-modern Mediterranean-style village on his private estate located on the estuary of the River Dwyryd in in Gwynedd, North Wales. The architect's dream was finally realised in 1975 when, at the age of ninety, he declared that the village of Portmeirion was completed.
Now owned and managed by a charity; the Ymddiriedolaeth Clough Williams-Ellis Foundation, Portmeirion is a hugely popular destination and has appeared in many films and British television shows including Doctor Who, Danger Man, Cold Feet and, most famously, the surreal and iconic spy drama The Prisoner.
Today, Portmeirion remains true to its founder's vision, with the village capturing the spirit of the Mediterranean, its quirky and pastel-hued buildings delightful to explore. Visitors will find an eclectic mix of guest houses and holiday cottages, restaurants, gift shops amid the charming architecture, whilst other attractions include beautiful public gardens, a camera obscura and an artificial lighthouse which Clough Williams-Ellis dubbed 'the Round House.
Whilst the village itself is a diverting and fascinating destination in its own right, the forested coastal peninsula upon which Portmeirion is situated is equally rewarding to explore. Ideally suited for walking, visitors can choose from several sign-posted woodland trails which provide opportunities to observe local birds and wildlife. There is also a beautifully landscaped Japanese garden to explore which features a lake with an ornamental bridge and pagoda as well as a collection of exotic shrubs, plants and flowers.
By contrast, a coastal walk along the Dwyryd Estuary offers wide sandy 'beaches' which lend Portmeirion the air of a seaside resort. The route takes in a number of floral displays and there are seats in which to relax and admire views both of the Welsh coastline and of the village. The headland and cliffs which overlook the estuary and sands also offer unforgettable views and are a must-visit for photographers.