Rhayader (ray-ad-er) is a market town in the north-west of the county of Radnorshire in Wales. It lies within the upper Wye valley, right in the middle of Wales, halfway between Hereford and Aberystwyth. Its name Rhayader is from the Welsh "Rhaeadr Gwy", which means the "Waterfall of the Wye" - but the waterfall that exists to day is much reduced from the original which was blown up in 1780 to make way for a bridge.
The origins of the town itself probably lie with the construction of a castle by the Lord Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth on a natural crag overlooking the Wye, in the year 1177 - Rhayader stood at the very fringes of the kingdom of Deheubarth and the Lord Rhys was seeking to defend his territory from the invading Normans from the east.
The castle itself was abandoned in the mid 13th century but the town became an important staging post on the coach road from Aberystwyth to London as well as an argicultural market for the surrounding area. Modern Rhayader depends on the tourist trade and attracts many walkers and fishermen - it is close to the Elan Valley Lakes and is surrounded by largely unspoilt countryside which is home to the famous Red Kite. The only substantial local industry is the Welsh Royal Crystal glass making business.
Nearby there are the ruins of Abbaty Cwm-Hir, the "Abbey of the Long Valley" a Cistercian foundation that was once the second largest religious building in Europe.
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