Valle Crucis was truly Welsh from the moment it was founded in 1201 by Prince Madog ap Gruffydd and the ‘white monks’ of the Cistercian order.
Its Latin name (Valley of the Cross) refers to the nearby ninth-century Pillar of Eliseg, erected for the glory of a Welsh chieftain. Monks had names like Tudur and Hywel.
Such home-grown sympathies might well explain the damage suffered during the wars of the English King Edward I and the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. But it remains one of our best-preserved and most atmospheric medieval abbeys.
Valle Crucis began in austerity but was later celebrated by poets for its lavish hospitality – meals served in silver vessels and ale ‘flowing like a river’. In Wales, only Tintern Abbey was richer when it was dissolved by royal decree in 1537.
You’ll believe it when you first glimpse the majestic west front of the abbey church. Elsewhere among the romantic ruins (painted by Turner) are the rib-vaulted chapter house and the only surviving monastic fishpond in Wales.