"I am not a Number" Portmeirion by antistar

Portmeirion Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 151 photos

Portmeirion is an Italianate village in a rainy, windswept corner of North Wales. It doesn't make much sense, and it is filled with strange symbols and allusions to some deeper meaning. A bit like the cult 60s TV series they filmed here: The Prisoner.

It's a total fraud. It's not in Italy, there are cardboard two-dimensional statues everywhere, and the pools are painted an azure blue to give the water that Mediterranean hue. It's a strange atmosphere that perfectly fits the dreamlike world of Patrick McGoohan's secret agent.

It's a curiosity that has caught the imagination of millions, including the rich and famous. Noel Coward, for example, wrote Blithe Spirit while staying at the Fountain 2 residence. It's also provided the setting for numerous shows, in addition to The Prisoner, including Citizen Smith and Doctor Who.

Far more beautiful than Portmeirion, however, is the view from the village. Portmeirion overlooks a dramatic stretch of sand on the Drywyd Estuary. In fact the whole village was built to take advantage of the amazing views, and to prove that you could build something that didn't spoil the location it was built in.

While Portmeirion is famous for its Italianate design, it's actually a bit more rag tag than that. While many of the buildings seem ripped straight from the Italian Riviera, there's a smattering of architecture in the Village that spans thousands of years.

It seems on the one hand stunning, and other hand it seems cluttered and kitsch. It feels like an old couple's post-card collection of long-ago trips abroad made flesh, or a pastel painted papier-mâché village of an old-boy's toy railway built so large the dimensions no longer fit.

And it is exactly that: it is a village built to reflect its designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. It reflects his memories, his travels, his desires, and his beliefs. Over the years he added to the collection, rescuing buildings from all over that were about to be destroyed, like the Bristol Colonnade.

He also designed it to provide the visitor with stunning views at every turn, and it does deliver that, in spades.

  • Last visit to Portmeirion: Jun 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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“Treat hosts like your girlfriend, and never tell them how wonderful the last one was.”

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