The ancient town of Caernarvon overlooks the western end of the Menai Straits in north Wales. It is dominated by one of the most powerful fortresses of the chain built by Edward I to keep the Welsh under the control of the Norman Kings of England. Here was born Edward's son in 1284 who became the first Prince of Wales in 1301. Prince Charles was invested here in 1969. The oldest part of the town shelters behind high wall that extend from the castle and here you will find a maze of narrow streets lines with ancient houses, shops and inns. In Castle Square you will find a statue of David Lloyd George, one of Britain's most colourful Prime Ministers and the town's MP for 56 years.
Originally a Celtic fortress, the Romans also built a fort here in AD78 called Segontium and some ruins remain to the east of the town. The impregnable Norman castle took 37 years to build and was completed in 1283 - it has only one encircling wall but this has a warren of passages and defensive positions. The main King's Gate has a drawbridge and a succession of massive doors and portcullises. The private apartments are also magnificent as this was and administrative as well as defensive centre.
From Caernarvon you can visit Portmeirion Village, a showpiece based on Portofino in Italy and designed by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis in 1926. Built on a tree clad peninsula in the northern corner of Cardigan Bay, features include a hotel, cottages and many architectural fancies such as an Italianate campanile, castle and lighthouse. All this has interplanted cypresses, palms and eucalyptus. Caernarvon is also close to Snowdonia, named after its highest mountain - Snowdon. It is an area of great natural beauty, and has been designated as a National Park.
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