Tourism boost for 500 historic churches in Wales

St Nons Chapel Pembrokeshire (c) Hawlfraint y Goron © Crown copyright (2019) Cymru Wales

The National Churches Trust is working with Visit Wales to put 500 historic places of worship on the tourist map. 

'Exploring Sacred Wales' is to be launched in time for the summer season in 2020 and will give tourists the chance to follow in the footsteps of generations of pilgrims.

The project will showcase the fascinating history and stunning art and architecture on offer at the churches, all of which are situated along or around the Wales Way - a set of three national routes consisting of the Coastal Way, the Cambrian Way and the North Wales Way.

Huw Edwards, Broadcaster and Journalist and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust said: "From hill top chapels to ancient churches to medieval cathedrals, the churches and chapels of Wales are some of the most beautiful religious buildings anywhere in the world.

"I'm delighted that 'Exploring Sacred Wales' is making it exciting and easy to discover the sacred spaces of Wales. It's high time that the churches and chapels of Wales took their rightful place on the tourism map alongside our magnificent castles, stunning mountains and exhilarating coastline."

The website is to feature all 500 of the participating churches alongside key information like opening times and special events.

It is hoped that that the boost to their profile will see more people incorporate a visit to a church or chapel in their weekend break, family holiday or day out in Wales.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said it was time more people knew about Wales' sacred heritage. 

"For too long, the history, art and architecture of the churches and chapels of Wales has been a secret known only to a lucky few," she said.

"The sacred space of Wales are packed with history, culture and mythology and have the power to inspire the mind and invigorate the soul.

"Using the power of the digital, 'Exploring Sacred Wales' will make it easy for the people of Wales and visitors from the rest of the UK and abroad to discover and experience this living work of art."

She added: "Attracting more people to visit the churches and chapels of Wales is key to ensuring their long term sustainability. The tourist pound they bring with them will also help boost the economy and support local businesses which is good news for everyone in Wales."

The project is being funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities development programme in the hopes of attracting more visitors to the region's world class sacred heritage.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: "I'm delighted that we've been able to support this exciting partnership and initiative during our Year of Discovery.

"So much of Wales' story is linked to our sacred places – and this initiative will bring that story life and attract more people to discover what our chapels and churches have to offer."