Portmeirion is a truly enchanting place. A whimsical Italianate village built into a secluded cliffside estuary, it was the dream and life’s work of eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis.
Clough Williams-Ellis began building Portmeirion in 1926 with the intention of demonstrating how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. He succeeded where many concrete monstrosities have failed and arguably exceeded his remit. Many of the buildings in Portmeirion are listed Grade II and the whole site has been designated a Conservation Area that attracts some 250,000 visitors a year.
Williams-Ellis was tireless in pursuing his dream and put the finishing touches to Portmeirion in 1976 at the age of 93. The village is a pastel coloured mix of Baroque and Rococo architecture that would look as much at home in a Mediterranean landscape or a Whistler painting as it does in the brooding mountains of Snowdonia .
As you walk down the hill through the village you pass under the Gate House arch with a fabulous renaissance style mural that gives a real sense of entrance to Portmeirion. At the heart of the village is the 18th Century Bristol Colonnade overlooking the piazza but the real focal point is the Campanile, a bell tower that was one of the first buildings Williams-Ellis established and serves as an icon for Portmeirion. The village leads down towards the shoreline of the estuary where a concrete boat waits deceptively by the quayside. As well as the grandiose Pantheons, pillars, turrets and domes that decorate the buildings are small intricate and almost hidden features that warrant close inspection.
Portmeirion has an abundance of aesthetic delights and you could spend all day wandering around its buildings and shops, selling tasteful souvenirs and pottery. You could even stay the night in one of the villages two hotels, Hotel Portmeirion and Castell Deudraeth or rent out one of the cottages in the village.