The Longest Place Name in Europe

May 27, 2022 0 comments

On the island of Anglesey off the north-west coast of Wales, just across Menai Strait, lies a small village with a big name: Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch or Llanfairpwll in short.

With 58 characters, it is the longest place name in Europe and the second longest one-word place name in the world.


The famous sign at Llanfairpwll’s police station. Photo: Rob Koster/Wikimedia 

The town’s original name was Pwllgwyngyll, which is still unpronounceable, but at least it was short. It was one of two townships making up the parish, the other being Treforion. In the mid-16th century, the town’s name was recorded as Llanfair y Pwllgwyngyll, which meant “St. Mary's church of the Pwllgwyngyll”. The suffixing of the township name to that of the church was done to distinguish the parish from the many other sites dedicated to Mary in Wales.

The town’s current long name was contrived in 1869 as a joke in an attempt to give the town’s railway station the longest name of any railway station in Britain. According to the Welsh academician Sir John Morris-Jones, the name was created by a local tailor but he did not name the person.

The Hill With The Longest Name
Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

In English, the name translates to “St. Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.” The name is very specific. It refers to the whirlpool in the Menai Strait known as the Swellies and to the small chapel of St. Tysilio, located on a nearby island. The final "red cave" is supposed to have been an addition inspired by the Cardiganshire parish of Llandysiliogogo, rather than by any local features.

The name itself attracts about 200,000 visitors per year. The most popular attraction is the Llanfairpwll railway station that features the plate with the full name of the village.


St. Mary's Church in Llanfairpwll. Photo: Necrothesp/Wikimedia


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