The historic town ofMachynlleth sits at the mouth of the Dyfi estuary in an area of outstanding natural beauty and diversity. In order to celebrate and protect this unique environment it has recently been made one of only two UNESCO Biosphere Reserve sites in the UK. The Centre for Alternative Technology, which has its headquarters on the edge of the town, has been hugely proactive in promoting ecological technology and lobbying for environmental policy both in the UK and internationally. The centre itself is extremely popular amongst visitors both as an inspiring educational resource and as a fun day out.
The earliest record of Machynlleth may well be contained in the legend of 'Cantre'r Gwaelod', a mythical area of fertile farmland that enriched the local people. Since then the town has enjoyed a distinguished history. Its claims to being the ancient capital of Wales are based upon Owain Glyndwr's short lived government of 1404, which was housed in the Parliament buildings that are still open to the public today. An unsuccessful assassination attempt on Glyndwr by Dafydd Gam was punished by imprisonment in Machynlleth's Royal House, but atoned for by Gam's courage at Agincourt for which he is remembered in Shakespeare's Henry V. The Dyfi Bridge on the outskirts of town also played host to a pivotal battle in the civil war when Sir Thomas Myddleton's Roundheads defeated the local Royalists.
As well as the Centre for Alternative Technology there are a host of other attractions on offer in Machynlleth includingKing Arthurs Labyrinth, Corris Mine Explorers. TheMuseum of Modern Art Wales houses a superb permanent collection and its Tabernacle buildings provide a venue for numerous festivals, including the Machynlleth Comedy Festival. The weekly market and biannual fair are still hugely popular despite dating back to a Royal Charter issued in 1291, whilst the Talyllyn Railway and Vale of Rheidol Railway offer an alternative way to enjoy the local landscape. The town itself is full of independent shops offering local crafts, organic foods and plenty of places to stop for a paned (cuppa).
Despite Machynlleth's rich political history and contemporary ecological and alternative subculture, it has also played an important role in the history of rock and roll. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant has owned property here since he was a boy and penned the iconic 'Stairway to Heaven' as well as many more songs in Bron-Yr-Aur cottage just outside Machynlleth.