Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The beauty of Portmeirion

Portmeirion in North Wales is one of those places that you simply must visit in your life. Testament to one man's dream - this is an architectural folly, an Italianate village built over a period of 50 years by architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis. He bought the land in the 1920s, and over the next five decades, he turned his fantastic vision into reality. Below: a general view of Portmeirion from the gazebo overlooking the village.

Below: let's zoom in to take a closer view. Remember - we are in North Wales (Cymru Gogledd) - a rugged land of volcanoes and chapels, and these domes and spires of Italianate architecture are somewhat unusual here.

Below: the Welsh estuarine setting, looking out over the river Dwyryd. Portmeirion served as the location of 1960s cult TV show The Prisoner - a series which has not lost its resonance to this day. Both Eddie and his cousin Hoavis are Prisoner fans, so our trip here today was preceded and followed by viewings of episodes of the TV show.

Below: the first views of the village are breathtaking. Be sure to come here on a sunny day to catch that Mediterranean climate.

Below: Eddie, wearing his grandfather's 1960s shades, overlooking one of Portmeirion's piazzas. Eddie was stricken by the place - an inspiration; something to draw, to emulate, to dream about. Portmeirion is such a success, culturally, historically, economically - one wonders why there aren't dozens of places like this all over the UK. Indeed, why isn't there such a place in Poland. Or why there aren't such places in Germany, the USA, Australia - the idea is so brilliant, it should be replicated world-wide.

Below: the stone boat, a famous feature of the Village. It's called Amis Reunis - reunited friends. It features in the Prisoner episodes. It is indeed symbolic. What is true - and what is false. A boat that looks the part - but can never set sail.

Below: the domed building, which in the Prisoner serves as the house of Number 2.  "I am not a number - I am a free man" - the central message of the series continues to inspire people watching it for the first time. A message as important to Britain today, where citizens are invigilated by the State's CCTV cameras, as it is to Poland, where every citizen is reduced to a series of numbers.

This time last year:
On motivation - what makes you... go?

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