Harlech (ˈharlɛx) is a town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

 and seaside resort
Seaside resort
A seaside resort is a resort, or resort town, located on the coast. Where a beach is the primary focus for tourists, it may be called a beach resort.- Overview :...

 in Gwynedd
Gwynedd is a county in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. Although the second biggest in terms of geographical area, it is also one of the most sparsely populated...

, within the historical boundaries of Merionethshire
Merionethshire is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, a vice county and a former administrative county.The administrative county of Merioneth, created under the Local Government Act 1888, was abolished under the Local Government Act 1972 on April 1, 1974...

 in northwest
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. Lying on Tremadog Bay
Tremadog Bay
Tremadog Bay is a large inlet of Cardigan Bay, defined by the north Cambrian Coast and the Llŷn peninsula of north Wales.The River Glaslyn flows into the north of bay and St Tudwal's Islands lie at the western end of the bay...

 and within the Snowdonia National Park, it has a population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of 1,952, of whom 59% speak Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

. The town is located in the unitary authority of Gwynedd which was formed in 1996, from 1974 to 1996 it was in the Meirionydd District of the 1974 County of Gwynedd, and before 1974 it was in the historic county of Merionethshire.

The town is best known for the landmark Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle, located in Harlech, Gwynedd, Wales, is a concentric castle, constructed atop a cliff close to the Irish Sea. Architecturally, it is particularly notable for its massive gatehouse....

, begun in 1283 by Edward I of England
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

, captured by Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndwr
Owain Glyndŵr , or Owain Glyn Dŵr, anglicised by William Shakespeare as Owen Glendower , was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales...

, and later the stronghold of Henry Tudor
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

. The castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 was originally built next to the sea, but geological
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 processes have changed the shape of the coastline, and the castle now lies on a cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

 face, about half a mile (800 m) inland. The town has since developed with housing estate
Housing estate
A housing estate is a group of buildings built together as a single development. The exact form may vary from country to country. Accordingly, a housing estate is usually built by a single contractor, with only a few styles of house or building design, so they tend to be uniform in appearance...

s on the flat low town area and hillside properties in the high town around the shopping street, church, and castle. The two areas are linked by a steep and winding road called "Twtil."

Harlech also plays a role in Medieval Welsh mythological literature. In the second branch of the Mabinogi "Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr
Branwen ferch Llŷr
; "Branwen, daughter of Llŷr" is a legendary tale from medieval Welsh literature and the second of the four branches of the Mabinogi. It concerns the children of Llŷr; Bendigeidfran , high king of Britain, and his siblings Manawydan and Branwen, and deals with the latter's marriage to Matholwch,...

," Harlech is the seat of Bendigeidfran, Branwen's brother and king of the "Isle of the Mighty
The Island of the Mighty
The Island of the Mighty is a fantasy novel by Evangeline Walton, the earliest in a series of four based on the Welsh Mabinogion. It was first published in 1936 under the publisher's title of The Virgin and the Swine. Although receiving warm praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold poorly, and...

." Towards the ending of the tale, the seven survivors of the war between the Irish and the Welsh are requested by the wounded Bendigeidfran to have his head cut off and carried to Gwynfryn in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. As instructed the seven men first return to Harlech and feast for seven years, entertained by the three birds of Rhiannon
Adar Rhiannon
In Welsh mythology, the ; "birds of Rhiannon", are supernatural creatures whose song can "wake the dead and lull the living to sleep". They belong to the euphemised horse goddess Rhiannon and were coveted by the giant Ysbaddaden Bencawr.-Role in Welsh tradition:...

, and later spend another eighty years at Gwales. The otherworldly feasting at Harlech and Gwales, with boundless supply of food and drink, heavenly music, and the absence of grief and sorrow, is known in the early Welsh tradition as "The Assembly of the Noble Head."


The town's railway station
Harlech railway station
Harlech railway station is located at a level crossing on the A496 in the centre of the town of Harlech in Gwynedd, North Wales. The waiting shelters were installed to cater for the high numbers of schoolchildren commuting to and from neighbouring schools. The station is on the Cambrian Coast...

 is served by the Cambrian Coast Line.

Educational facilities

Ysgol Ardudwy is the county secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

 for children between the ages of 11-16.

The town is also the home of Wales' only long term adult residential college, Coleg Harlech
Coleg Harlech
Coleg Harlech is a further education college for mature students in Harlech, Gwynedd.It is Wales' only long-term, mature students education college and was established in 1927 by Thomas Jones , Cabinet Secretary to both David Lloyd George and Stanley Baldwin, to continue the work of Workers'...

, also known as the "college of second chance."


Theatr Harlech (formerly called Theatr Ardudwy) is located on the Coleg Harlech campus and stages a varied selection of plays, music, and films throughout the year.

Other attractions in Harlech include its beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

 backed with sand dunes and the famous Royal Saint David's Golf Club, a top course in Britain which hosted its fifth British Ladies Amateur
British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship
The British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship was founded in 1893 by the Ladies' Golf Union of Great Britain. Until the dawn of the professional era in 1976, it was the most important golf tournament for women in Great Britain and would eventually begin to draw golfers from continental Europe...

 in 2009
2009 in golf
-Men's professional golf:Major championships*9–12 April: The Masters - Argentina's Ángel Cabrera won his second major in a sudden death playoff over Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell .*18–22 June: U.S...


The Rhinogydd
The Rhinogydd are a range of mountains located east of Harlech in North Wales....

 (or Rhinogs) range of mountains rises to the east.

A World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

-era fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 was found on Harlech beach in 2007. The discovery of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning has been described as "one of the most important WWII finds in recent history." The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) are not divulging the precise location of the U.S. Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 aeroplane, known as the Maid of Harlech, but are hoping to eventually salvage the wreck.

In popular culture

  • The song Men of Harlech
    Men of Harlech
    "Men of Harlech" or "The March of the Men of Harlech" is a song and military march which is traditionally said to describe events during the seven year long siege of Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468. Commanded by Constable Dafydd ap Ieuan, the garrison held out in what is the longest known...

    is associated with the town, and is traditionally said to describe events during the seven year long siege of the castle between 1461 and 1468.
  • Mari Strachan's 2009 novel The Earth Hums in B Flat (2009) is set in Harlech in the 1950s.

Famous residents

  • Ellis Wynne
    Ellis Wynne
    Ellis Wynne was a Welsh clergyman and author of one of the most important and influential pieces of Welsh language literature....

      (1671–1734) - Welsh language author
  • Owain Glyndŵr
    Owain Glyndwr
    Owain Glyndŵr , or Owain Glyn Dŵr, anglicised by William Shakespeare as Owen Glendower , was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales...

     (1404–1409) - Welsh Rebellion Leader and the last Welshman to claim the title 'Prince of Wales
    Prince of Wales
    Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

  • George Davison
    George Davison (photographer)
    George Davison was a noted English photographer, a proponent of impressionistic photography, a co-founder of the Linked Ring Brotherhood of British artists and a managing director of Kodak UK...

     (1855-1930) - photographer

See also

  • Morfa Harlech sand dunes
    Morfa Harlech sand dunes
    Morfa Harlech is an extensive dune system stretching northwards from the town of Harlech in north Wales. The dunes cover some 6 km², of which an area of about 1.5 km² in the middle has been afforested with Corsican Pine....

  • Harlech Castle
    Harlech Castle
    Harlech Castle, located in Harlech, Gwynedd, Wales, is a concentric castle, constructed atop a cliff close to the Irish Sea. Architecturally, it is particularly notable for its massive gatehouse....

  • St. David's Hotel
    St. David's Hotel
    St. David’s Hotel was an Edwardian Era hotel in Harlech, Wales. The building itself was very grand, and located on the A496, adjacent to Theatr Harlech on the campus of Coleg Harlech, and Royal St David's Golf Club....

  • Lord Harlech
  • HTV
    HTV, now legally known as ITV Wales & West, is the ITV contractor for Wales and the West of England, which operated from studios in Cardiff and Bristol. The company provided commercial television for the dual-region 'Wales and West' franchise, which it won from TWW in 1968...

    - Harlech Television

External links

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