Situated on Tremadog Bay, with a population of 2,000, the town is dominated by the Castle, begun in 1283 by Edward I. Captured and held by Owain Glyndwr from 1404 - 1408, it was later the stronghold of Henry Tudor.
Originally built next to the sea, the changing nature of the coastline means that the castle now lies on a cliff face, about half a mile inland. Attractions in Harlech include the Royal St David's Golf Club, Theatr Harlech, which stages a varied selection of plays, music and films throughout the year and a swimming pool. The Llanfair Slate Caverns are situated a mile south of Harlech; the entry to this old but important slate mine is through the main tunnel, under the twin arches of the crypt, and into the lofty cathedral cavern.
Many industrial towns in Britain and Ireland have the original roofs made of Llanfair slate. Shell Island developed as a tourist attraction in the 1880's with the coming of the railways and is situated south of Harlech. With over 450 acres (which includes one of the largest camping sites in Europe), the 'island' has a bathing beach that runs for 6 miles down to Barmouth backed by some of the tallest sand dunes in Wales.
During the winter months, the shells are washed up by the winter storms and can be gathered by the bagful in the spring; some two hundred different types of shell are to be found.