Machynlleth, mid-Wales is a bustling market town located 18 miles northeast of Aberystwyth. Here, my family and I encountered the spirit of Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr at the Owain Glyndwr Centre. We browsed exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art Wales, toured the landscaped grounds of the 17th century Plas Machynlleth mansion, and explored Welsh art at the Museum of Modern Art Wales.
In the heart of Machynlleth sits a modest 15th century stone townhouse on the north side of Heol Maengwyn, the town’s wide main street. Also known as the Parliament House, this building is the site of Glyndwr’s revolutionary parliament in 1404 AD and now houses the Owain Glyndwr Centre. Open March through December, the centre’s days and hours vary by season, so it’s best to check beforehand.
After paying a small admission fee, my husband Erik, our three-year-old son Finn and I explored the Parliament House. The spacious main floor is filled with large bilingual display panels, interactive computer programs, replicas of early 15th century artifacts and a colorful mural depicting Glyndwr’s victory over the English Battle of Hyddgen. And, in the room on the second floor, visitors can make their own medieval brass rubbings.
Leaving the centre, we crossed Heol Maengwyn, the main street, to inspect the two large ornate gates marking the path to the elegant Georgian mansion of Plas Machynlleth. Originally the country home of the Marquesses of Londonderry, the estate is now owned and operated by the town. The mansion, converted into a meeting and community events venue, is surrounded by landscaped grounds that are open to the public.
Following the gentle, paved path as it meanders through the mansion’s lovely grounds, we enjoyed views of rolling hills and sheep-dotted fields. Along the path, we passed weathered wooden sculptures and a stone memorial to Owain Glyndwr. Three-year-old Finn had a great time frolicking in the children’s play area.
We returned to Heol Maengwyn and strolled west along the main street, where the town’s weekly market was in full swing. Held every Wednesday since the 13th century, the market is small yet lively. Stalls were filled with organic produce, specialty cheeses, baked goods, garden plants and handmade crafts. After a hearty lunch of cheeses, fruits and fresh bread, we continued to browse the stalls while our ears were filled with the lyrical sounds of the spoken Welsh language. When Erik, Finn and I reached the market’s edge, we stopped to marvel at the town’s tall, ornate Victorian clock tower, constructed in 1873 by the Marquess of Londonderry in honor of his heir’s coming-of-age.
From the clock tower we turned north and walked down Heol Pen’rallt to our last stop, the Museum of Modern Art Wales. Also known as MOMA Cymru, the museum is open year round, Monday through Saturday, from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free. Holding Finn’s hand, we ambled through the bright, white-walled galleries, pausing often to admire the artworks. Exhibits rotate throughout the year, including works from the museum’s permanent collection. We were especially drawn to the Modern Welsh Art exhibit, which features leading artists living and working in Wales since 1900.
As the shadows of late afternoon lengthen along Machynlleth’s streets, Erik and I tucked a drowsy Finn into his car seat and headed to our lodgings just outside of town to rest before our next Welsh adventure.
When you go:
- For more information: Visit Wales
- Best months to visit: May, June and September because it’s warmer and also less crowded.
- Transportation to Wales: For North Wales, Birmingham International Airport and Manchester International Airport are closest. For South Wales, Cardiff International Airport is most convenient.
- Bus/Train: Public transportation in Wales varies by region, visit Traveline Cymru to help plan your journey. For national train schedules check with National Rail Enquiry.
Eateries in Machynlleth:
For great pizza and inventive Welsh dishes, head to the Wynnstay Hotel, home to both an on site restaurant and a pizzeria. The new Number 21 Bistro, open for lunch and dinner, serves contemporary fare crafted from locally-sourced ingredients. For hot beverages and tasty treats in town, try Y Gegin Fach Café (01654 703 679), located on Heol Maengwyn, or Café Glas, located inside the Museum of Modern Art.
Places to Stay in Machynlleth:
In addition to its award-winning food, the Wynnstay Hotel offers a variety of cozy, en suite rooms in the heart of Machynlleth. For a comfortable B&B with a garden setting, try one of the eight en suite rooms at the Maenllwyd Guest House. Two miles east of town, the tranquil Felin Crewiis a 16th century water mill beautifully converted into a B&B and self-catering accommodation.
Written by Carrie Uffindell for EuropeUpClose.com