The Prisoner: Portmeirion Locations
Welcome to the Village
"Where am I?"
"You are in the Village."
So began each episode of the cult sixties TV series The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan played a former secret agent who falls asleep in his London home only to wake up in the Village -- a self-contained community where the veneer of an idyllic life disguises authoritarian attempts to extract information from people who know too much. Known only as Number Six, the prisoner fights the system, plots escape and makes it his mission to discover the identity of the mysterious Number One.
Where Was The Prisoner Filmed?
The Prisoner was filmed from 1966 to 1967 in the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion, a private resort near Porthmadog, in Wales. Architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis had been developing the village constantly since 1925, adding bits and pieces here and there, designing and constructing some parts from scratch and importing other buildings and features from across the world to incorporate into his fantastical design. Series creator and star Patrick McGoohan had filmed episodes of the earlier show Danger Man there, and was drawn back to it as the location for his new show.
Number Six's House
When Number Six woke up in his new home, he occupied an apartment with an identical interior to his London home. The exterior location is, in fact, a much smaller building, barely the size of his living room.
Visitors can find Number Six's house directly facing them as they enter Portmeirion from the main entrance. It is a salmon-pink stone building with French doors opening onto a cobbled square, although these doors were windows when The Prisoner was filmed. Number Six's front door is tucked away on the left side. The building now houses a Prisoner shop, where fans can buy show-related memorabilia, DVDs, books and merchandise.
Number Two's Residence: The Green Dome
In the series, Number Two -- the unseen Number One's deputy, in charge of interrogating Number Six -- lives in the Green Dome, which overlooks the square outside Number Six's house. The green colour only simulated aged copper; it was in fact painted plywood. It has since been replaced by real dark brown copper. Visitors can ascend the steps right to the door, and it is occasionally open as a private art gallery and shop.
The Free Sea (Plaza)
Marked on Village maps as the "Free Sea," this plaza, with a fountain at its centre, is most memorably seen in Arrival, the opening episode of The Prisoner. The Village's guardian, Rover (a large white weather balloon), emerges from the waters to capture an unruly citizen. At one end of the plaza is the lawn where a human chess board was set up during the episode Checkmate, and at the other end stands a balcony, from where Number Six made his election speech in Free for All.
The Bell Tower
When Number Six arrives in the Village, his first port of call is the Bell Tower, or Campanile. From the top, he surveys his entire surroundings. The area is cut off to visitors now, but the tower is highly visible from almost anywhere in Portmeirion.
The Old People's Home
The Old People's Home is the Hotel Portmeirion itself, a steep walk downhill from the main village. It is seen several times in the show, although in many key scenes, its facade is actually a fairly obvious painted backdrop, filmed at MGM British Studios, Borehamwood (Elstree).
Other Portmeirion Prisoner Locations
A short ways before the main entrance to Portmeirion is Castle Deudraeth, currently a restaurant. This stone building served as the hospital in several Prisoner episodes. Almost every part of the resort and its surrounds popped up somewhere or other in the series, including the Town Hall, which can be seen on the far side of the village as you walk down towards the hotel; the beach, scene of many a tussle between Number Six and the Village minions; and the cafe, directly across the green from the Bell Tower, where Number Six encounters his first villager.
Visit Portmeirion, Wales
Portmeirion is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Information about transport, admission fees and other visitor details are available on the official website.
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