Unchanged and unspoilt, Llangollen is a picturesque town that immediately captures the heart of all who visit. So many visitors return time and time again to this the gateway town to the stunning countryside of North Wales. Established since the iron and bronze age, it contains everything a visitor could wish for.
The ruined Crow Castle on the highest hill in Llangollen is known as The Castle of The Holy Grail and is shrouded in a history of legends. The ancient Prince of Powys reputedly built it.
Saint Gollen was the former Abbot of Glastonbury and gave his name to Llangollen (Llan is Welsh for enclosure) therefore the name Llangollen means enclosure of Gollen. It was Saint Gollen who supervised the construction of The Valley of The Cross Abbey, which remained in use between 1200 & 1500AD until it was dissolved. The well preserved abbey ruins are a favourite visitor attraction along with the oldest stone pillar in the country.
The church was constructed in the 12th century and was for hundreds of years the Mother Church; for a huge area of North Wales and Shropshire. Llangollen’s first road bridge over the River Dee was constructed in 1282 followed by the start of the weekly market 2 years later in 1284AD.
In 1780 Lady Eleanor and Sarah Posonby arrived from Ireland escaping from their families to resume a relationship that began when they were at boarding school together. They became renown as “The Ladies of Llangollen”, in such a scandalous relationship but gained acceptability after a string of famous visitors that included, William Wordsworth, The Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, etc. Their home “Plas Newydd” is now open to visitors with its astounding wood carvings and beautiful gardens.
Llangollen is also famous for what is considered Thomas Telford’s finest engineering feat, the aqueduct that towers 181 feet over the valley and carries the Llangollen Canal for 1007 feet was built by Telford in 1793. The Llangollen Canal is the mostpopular narrow canal in the UK and boats still travel across the aqueduct over 200 years after it was built. Horse-drawn canal boats carry visitors between the centre of the town and The Chainbridge Hotel where it interconnects with the steam railway at Berwyn Station.
In 1816 the first steam train arrived in Llangollen station and the line flourished until it was closed by British Rail in the late 1960s. In 1975 a preservation society was formed that has gone on to reopen the railway that runs for 12 miles through spectacular countryside. Restored old steam trains chug alongside the white-water River Dee climbing out of the Vale of Llangollen towards Corwen, 12 miles away. (The line is due to be extended to Corwen centre itself).
Llangollen still has only 3,500 inhabitants, but this is swollen by visitors that reach a peak during the first week of July when The International Music Eisteddfod takes place as it has done every year since 1947. 12,500 musicians and dancers from all over the world gather to perform before 185,000 spectators in the specially built International Pavilion. Famous participants over the years include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Yehudi Menuhin and Katherine Jenkins.
Llangollen is the ideal place for visitors at any time of the year as there is always something going on. The white water canoeing championships, the steam railway, the horse-drawn canal boats, the 17th Century coaching Inns, the wealth of historical sites.