Andy & Bev Fraser's Travel World

33 years of our "UnTour" Adventures
 
The Village
Our journeys are as close as we can come to a good old fashioned no rushing, relaxed time with good companions. This is our 32nd year of doing it this way. Hope you can join us. Andy & Bev
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Welcome to Portmerion
The World's strangest village
If you come to Portmerion via the massive gray Blaenau Ffestiniog slate quarries you will be excused for thinking you have come out of an industrial monster and  reached that magical city of Oz.

Set among trees, ponds and on the shore of Afon Dwyryd.(no, it’s not a spelling mistake), you could also think you were somewhere on the French Riviera - until you see the great tower which immediately reminds you of one you have seen in Tuscany.

Welcome to Portmerion, once described as “the oddest holiday village on earth”.

Throw away all thoughts of seeing a typical Welsh Village. This isn’t it. In fact, this isn’t anything similar o what you have seen anywhere.

Portmerion was a labour of love created by Welsh architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis whose name sounds as bizarre as his village creation. From 1925 to 1978, Williams-Ellis created his fantasy village. He wanted to show that one could develop a location without destroying its natural location.

His created his village by building and working with the natural surroundings. No massive destruction of trees, or ponds, or waterways. Couple that idea with his bizarre imagination and you have Portmerion a whimsical collection of an extremely vivid imagination.

Strange archways, stone ornamental fronts and columns from old great homes about to be demolished were all collected and incorporated into the village. In fact someone described Portmerion as “A home for fallen buildings”.

In one corner is a giant chess board that is designed for human size chess pieces. Not far off is a classic domed building and a short walk away is that Tuscan Tower featuring on old tower clock from a demolished  brewery in London which is turn is not a great distance from a sculpted Greek Statue.

For those of you of ‘a certain age’, you may be thinking there is something weirdly familiar going on here. And you’re right.

Remember that phrase: “I am not a number, I am a free man”? And that big beach balloon that ominously patrolled the water near the village? And how about the scenes of humans taking the place of chess pieces?

All part of the bizarre, frustrating, weird series called “The Prisoner” starring Irish actor Patrick McGoohan who put the whole series together. He was Number 6, a previous spy (probably) who had resigned, was drugged and woke up in this Alice In Wonderland village, a prisoner along with many others who had not toed the line. McGoohan had previously starred in “Danger Man” a spy series in the early 60s. And now he wanted to put together a series that ‘transcended the traditional spy story genre.

Everyone in this very strange series which quickly became a cult, had a number and not a name. And it put Portmerion on the map.

It was weird, frustrating and yet captivating, much the same as this delightfully bizarre village.

We’ll enjoy it on our journey through Celtic Wales.


Portmerion gardens (one of many)
Another view of the village
Some of the shops
'I am not a number' Patrick McGoohan, The Prisoner