Ruthin in the heart of North Wales is a delightfully small market town that is packed full of history.
The town centre is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Vale of Clwyd and boasts dozens of listed buildings dating back to Ruthin's medieval origins.
With its landmarks and culture, Ruthin is a must-visit stop on any tour of North Wales. Thanks to its central location the town also makes an ideal base from which to explore the rest of the region, with Snowdonia National Park and the Welsh coast both just a half-hour drive away.
Ruthin's rich history dates back to the 13th century, during the height of the Principality of Wales, when King Edward I of England ordered Ruthin Castle be built to defend against any rebellion. The castle's first occupant was Dafydd, brother of the famous Welsh prince Llewellyn ap Gruffydd. But the brothers' own rebellion against English rule in 1282 led to their execution and the end of the principality in north Wales. Ruthin Castle was converted into a country house in the 19th century and is now a luxury hotel, although its three towers and remains and can be freely explored by visitors.
The town was built up around the castle over the following centuries. The Old Court House and Seven Eyes are among several listed landmarks built in the traditional black-and-white style that few other Welsh towns can still boast.
St Peter's Square, Ruthin's historic town centre, is also home to the ancient monument of Maen Huail, where the legendary King Arthur is said to have beheaded a love rival in the 6th century.
Other landmarks include St Peter's Church, founded in 1284, Ruthin Gaol, an 18th century prison now converted into a museum and Nantclwyd y Dre, the oldest surviving timbered town house in Wales, also open to the public.
Ruthin is home to a growing arts and crafts movement. It led to the construction of the award-winning Ruthin Craft Cente, where visitors can observe glass and ceramics being made by local craftsmen in their workshops. The Ruthin Art Trail encourages visitors to explore a series of artworks created to showcase and celebrate the town's history, while in summer Ruthin Festival showcases the best local music, including Welsh folk bands.
Ruthin has a number of quaint shopping streets that have avoided being overrun by chain stores, making for a unique retail experience, while Ruthin Indoor Market is a haven for handmade goods. Independent cafes and restaurants can be found in abundance around Ruthin, many utilising locally-sourced ingredients, such as Welsh lamb and beef.
A charming collection of B&Bs in Ruthin provide value-for-money retreats in a range of styles and settings, some affording views across the Vale of Clwyd. Mid-range and luxury hotels can be found in the town centre, while camping and caravan sites are dotted around the town's surrounding countryside.