Visitors to Snowdonia will now be able to follow in the footsteps of the princes of Gwynedd for the first time, thanks to a new heritage tourism scheme launched today (14 October 2013) at Dinas Emrys, the mythological home of the Welsh Dragon.
The scheme is a consortium led by Conwy County Borough Council in partnership with Gwynedd Council, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the National Trust. 30 iconic heritage sites linked to the princes have been interpreted to tell the unique story of the longest and most successful dynasty in medieval Wales - from the castles the princes built to the royal courts where they ruled.
From Maelgwn Gwynedd to Llywelyn the Great, visitors to Snowdonia can explore the colourful lives of the princes and witness their lasting legacy on today’s landscape, using new themed walking, cycling and driving routes to get around, promoted through a new website and guidebook.
Six information hubs have been created – at Betws-y-Coed Tourist Information Centre, Criccieth Castle Visitor Centre, Conwy Tourist Information Centre, The Oriel Pendeitsh Gallery in Caernarfon, Beddgelert Tourist Information Centre (Canolfan Hebog) and at National Trust Craflwyn – to act as a starting point for visitor journeys.
Around 10 million* people visit the area annually and it is hoped the Princes of Gwynedd scheme will attract an additional 12,000 visitors to the heritage sites throughout Snowdonia before the end of 2014.
The Princes of Gwynedd scheme is the first strand of the Pan-Wales Heritage Interpretation Plan, led by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service, which aims to bring Wales’ heritage to life for locals and visitors to explore and enjoy while maximising the economic value of heritage tourism. Cadw plans to roll out more themes across Wales over the coming months through its Heritage Tourism Project, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport, said: “This is the first of 12 interpretation projects which will help to celebrate and share the story of Wales’s rich and diverse heritage and culture. We want to make physical and thematic links between places and sites so that people can follow stories across Wales with the help of inspiring interpretation.
“The princes of Gwynedd were a hugely important part of how Wales developed and their story still leaves a mark on today’s landscape. The project team has led the way in ensuring visitors are met with exciting and thought-provoking experiences that will benefit the area’s local economy. We hope that the new trails will encourage local people and visitors alike to learn about the princes by retracing their steps and will be inspired to explore the rest of Wales’s fascinating story.”
Councillor Dilwyn Roberts, Leader of Conwy County Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that Conwy has had the opportunity to lead on this innovative partnership project, which brings our iconic heritage sites to a wider audience and generates economic benefit to the communities of Conwy and Gwynedd.”
The Princes of Gwynedd is one of six story strands in North West Wales with more to follow as part of the wider Our Heritage scheme. Councillor John Wynn Jones, Gwynedd Council's Economy Cabinet Member said: “Our Heritage aims to bring intriguing historical sites to life for everyone from seven year old ‘Horrible Histories’ fans to families who want a taste of how the princes of Gwynedd lived in Snowdonia, and serious history buffs eager to meet the ancestors.
“It is no exaggeration to say that there are hidden historical treasures of national, international and global importance just waiting to be discovered and explored in every corner of Gwynedd and Conwy.”
Trystan Edwards, National Trust General Manager for Snowdonia and Llŷn, said: “The condition, accessibility, and promotion of Dinas Emrys has been on our agenda for a number of years and so we have been delighted to play a key role in the Princes of Gwynedd project, and our welcome and information facilities at Craflwyn and in Beddgelert will be the ideal destination for all who want to learn more and explore.”
Jonathan Cawley, Director of Planning and Cultural Heritage for Snowdonia National Park Authority, said: “Upland Snowdonia was both a defensive bastion and important economic resource for the Princes of Gwynedd. The castles, palaces and grazing pastures of the Princes and the abbeys and churches they sponsored have shaped the historic landscape of Snowdonia. The National Park Authority is pleased to have been involved in the partnership to promote classic sites like Dolwyddelan and Castell y Bere castles as well as many hidden gems to local residents and visitors. The itineraries will draw people to some fantastic areas of Snowdonia that they might have otherwise missed.”
For more information about the Princes of Gwynedd, trails and exhibitions visit www.snowdoniaheritage.info/princes or watch the video.
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