St. David’s Cathedral
In the south-west of Wales, in the county of Pembrokeshire, is the pilgrimage site of St. David’s Cathedral. The sacred building, designed in the shape of a cross, was built in honor of the patron saint of the Valais – St. David. The construction of the cathedral, the roots of which date back to the sixth century, began in the Norman style in the twelfth century. It received its Gothic exterior in the middle of the 14th century. In the difficult times that followed for Wales and the Catholic Church there, the slow decline of St. David’s Cathedral began. Reasons for this were the outbreak of the plague, the Reformation, Henry VIII who broke with the Pope and the English Civil War. Repair work did not begin until the end of the 18th century, thus saving parts of the structure from complete deterioration.
Sights in the cathedral
The showpiece of the nave with its six arcades decorated in relief and windows in Gothic style is the ceiling. It is made of wood and is covered with the finest carvings that were made over the course of about 300 years. The end of the nave forms the choir screen, which is decorated with artistic sculptures. Another artifact worth seeing is the “Abraham Stone”, a tombstone with Christian and Celtic symbols and inscriptions. This stone is said to commemorate the two sons of Bishop Abraham who fell victim to the Vikings in 1080. Even if only the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace of St. David’s have been preserved, with a little imagination you can imagine its former splendor. Centuries ago, men of God met in the lavishly furnished halls,
Best travel time to visit cathedrals
Trips or study trips to St. David’s Cathedral are impressive all year round. Visits are particularly worthwhile during the Advent weeks and at Christmas. During this period, in addition to numerous events such as concerts, religious performances and historical performances take place.
An architect’s lifelong dream
Portmeirion – this place on the picturesque coast of Welsh Snowdonia is small and fine. And it has a special story, as the films for the television hits “Secret Mission for John Drake” and “Number 6” by American actor Patrick McGoohan were shot here. But Portmeirion is above all the life’s work of an architect named Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, who fulfilled his very personal dream on the shores caressed by the warm Gulf Stream.
In the beginning there was a fisherman’s hut
When Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis discovered Tremadog Bay in the early twenties of the last century, all he found there was a winding fisherman’s hut. And he was very quickly fascinated by the idea of creating a place here that would correspond to the Italian Mediterranean style. For fifty years – between 1925 and 1975 – he transported the backdrop of the Italian Portofino to Wales. Today Portmeirion is a collection of portals and piazzas, and the place looks to its visitors as if it had sprung from an Italian operetta.
Between fascination and kitsch
Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis consciously and purposefully realized the dream of an extraordinary site and landscape planning. In doing so, he was repeatedly inspired by the colors of his Italian role models. Portmeirion’s effect on the viewer is ambiguous. Most are fascinated, others perceive the place as a nightmare or as a very unusual variant of the typical English kitsch. After all, around 250,000 people make the pilgrimage to Portmeirion every year.
Interplay of shadow and light
The architect’s grandchildren have recently invested around 1.3 million euros to preserve the village as a total work of art. Visitors to Portmeirion arrive at this unique Welsh site via an avenue and then through a tunnel. Whoever leaves it is almost standing in the piazza. The interplay between the shadow of the tunnel and the glaring light was intended by Bertram Clough Wiliams-Ellis. Anyone who came should be overwhelmed by the domes, water basins and facades of the village and understand the architectural work of art as a revelation.
This is a destination for romantics! Tintern Abbey, the ruins of a medieval abbey, has inspired many painters and also delights hobby photographers. The ruin can be found near the village of Tintern in the valley of the River Wye in south-west Wales (County Gwent, Borough of Monmouthshire).
On the history of the building
Tintern Abbey was founded as a Cistercian monastery in 1131. The inauguration of the monastery church took place in 1301. For several centuries monks lived in the monastery and worked the fields in the area around the village until the abbey was dissolved in 1536 under the reign of King Henry VIII. Gradually the property fell into disrepair. During the Romantic era, artists discovered the picturesque ruin as a motif. Especially William Turner (1775-1851) made Tintern Abbey famous through his paintings. Around 1900 the authorities decided to carry out restoration measures. So the walls of the abbey could be saved. Today Tintern Abbey is under the care of the Wales Monument Protection Agency.
Visit the Tintern Abbey
The monastery area can be visited daily – for a fee. The access and the paths are designed to be handicapped accessible. The visitor stands in amazement in front of the high walls of the nave and the side chapels, visits the cloister and especially admires the Gothic western front of the monastery church. The medieval statue of the Virgin Mary “Our Lady of Tintern” adorns the area and forms a wonderful photo opportunity. Tintern Abbey is considered to be the best-preserved ruined monastery in Wales!
A walk in the river valley
After visiting the abbey, it is worth taking a walk around the village of Tintern. The tranquil community, which only has around 900 inhabitants, has two other historical buildings. On top of a hill above the abbey are the ruins of the church “St. Mary the Virgin”. The church originally dates from the Middle Ages, was renovated in the 19th century and fell victim to a fire in the 1970s. And to the north of the abbey is an old watermill. Yes, romantics will love Tintern!