First published in my original blog October 2012
In many ways the village of Portmeirion couldn’t be more Welsh. It’s located in the ancient county of Gwynedd, in the village and community of Penrhyndeudraeth, and on the estuary of the River Dwyryd.
Yet when you enter Portmeirion you are transported to the Mediterranean. There are brightly coloured buildings; winding, cobbled streets; a picturesque Bell Tower (or Campanile); and the great dome of The Pantheon, dominating everything below.
This Italianate village was the work of architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He built Portmeirion between 1925 and 1976 on the coast of Snowdonia. His aim was to show that, through the use of excellent architecture, a site can be developed in harmony with its naturally beautiful surroundings.
He did a fantastic job – the village crowns a lovely wooded hillside, which descends to a golden beach and the waters of the estuary. More than 250,000 people come to enjoy his creation each year, visiting Portmeirion’s many shops and restaurants – or staying in the accommodation on the site.
Some come to see where the 1960s TV series The Prisoner was filmed. The village has scarcely changed since Patrick McGoohan played chess in Portmeirion’s Central Piazza, or was chased along the beach during one of his many escape attempts, by ‘Rover’, a giant inflatable rubber ball (it did scare me, but then again I was only 10!)
I grasped the opportunity presented by a sunny October day, to take some fresh photographs of the village. Bathed in the bright, low angled autumn light, it looked beautiful. There was a steady flow of visitors, but it wasn’t busy, so I was able to capture images of parts of Portmeirion that previously had been obscured by huddles of people, particularly around The Central Piazza.
I also concentrated on photographing the ornate architectural detail in the village, as well as some of the statues, such as Hercules near the Town Hall and Saint Peter on the balcony of the Toll House.
Just before I left the sun broke through the gathering cloud, to illuminate the Piazza and surrounding buildings. The photograph I took of the scene seemed to highlight the contrasts between the village’s cool North Wales location and Mediterranean theme. There were hillsides rich in golden autumn leaves; buildings glowing in blues, creams and pinks; and exotic shrubs evoking memories of much warmer climes.