Welcome to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoc, the Town with the Longest Name in Europe

Its name can be squeezed onto a tea tow­el, a dec­o­ra­tive plate, a mag­net, a mug, and oth­er touris­tic sou­venirs, but has the north­ern Welsh town of Llan­fair­p­wll­gwyn­gyll­gogerych­wyrn­drob­wl­l­l­lan­tysil­i­o­gogogoc been cel­e­brat­ed in song?

Indeed it has. The Great Big Sto­ry’s Human Con­di­tion episode, above, has vinyl proof, though the tune’s unlike­ly to give The White Cliffs of Dover, The Bon­nie Banks of Loch Lomond, or The Rocky Road To Dublin much of a run for the mon­ey.

Still, whichev­er out­side-the-box Vic­to­ri­an thinker had the bright idea to attract tourists by expand­ing the village’s orig­i­nal name — Pwll­gwyn­gyll — by 46 let­ters was onto some­thing.

Turns out you don’t need nat­ur­al won­ders or world-renowned cul­tur­al attrac­tions to stake a claim, when out-of-town­ers will make the trip just to take pho­tos of the local sig­nage.

Image by Adraio, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Vil­lage Com­mu­ni­ty Coun­cil Chair­man Alun Mum­mery attrib­ut­es the name-length­en­ing pub­lic­i­ty stunt in 1869 to a local cob­bler.

Or per­haps he was a tai­lor. That’s what poet John Mor­ris-Jones, author of 1913’s A Welsh Gram­mar, His­tor­i­cal and Com­par­a­tive, main­tained, while refus­ing to out­right iden­ti­fy this clever civic boost­er.

Wikipedia throws doubt on these ori­gin sto­ries by cit­ing an entry in an eccle­si­as­ti­cal direc­to­ry pub­lished a few years pri­or to 1869, which gave the full parish name as “Llanfair­pwll­gwyn­gyll­goger­bwll­tysilio­gogo.”

(Close enough!)

Some­one in the tourist infor­ma­tion office told trav­el writer Dave Fox that it 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.”

It’s tempt­ing to think this lit­tle Welsh town has the longest name in the world, but that hon­or actu­al­ly goes to Bangkok.

Wait, what?

The name by which most for­eign­ers know Thai­land’s cap­i­tal city is actu­al­ly an archa­ic ref­er­ence to its pre-1782 loca­tion.

Thai peo­ple call their cap­i­tal Krung Thep — short for Krungth­ep­ma­hanako­r­namorn­ratanakos­in­mahin­tarayut­thayama­hadilokphopnop­pa­ra­tra­jathaniburiro­mu­dom­ra­jani­wes­ma­hasathar­namorn­phi­mar­na­vatarn­sathit­sakkat­tiyav­isanukam­pr­a­sit.

It means “City of angels, great city of immor­tals, mag­nif­i­cent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of roy­al palaces, home of gods incar­nate, erect­ed by Vish­vakar­man at Indra’s behest” and looks like this, when writ­ten in Thai script:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­gochians still get to brag that they have the longest town name in Europe.

Their foot­ball club, Clwb Pêl Droed Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch Foot­ball Club — CPD Llan­fair­p­wll FC for short — might well be the longest named foot­ball club in the world if it weren’t for that damn Amon Rat­tanakosin Krung Thep Mahanakhon Mahinthara Mahadilok Phop Nop­pharat Ratchathani Ayuthaya Burirom Udom­ratchani­wet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathat­tiya Wit­sanukam Pra­sit Bra­vo Asso­ci­a­tion Foot­ball Club (aka Bangkok Bra­vo FC).

Some of the fun of liv­ing in a town with such a cum­ber­some name must be amaz­ing tourists by how casu­al­ly it rolls off local tongues.

Pub own­er Kevin Bryant oblig­es vis­i­tors from The Great Big Sto­ry by down­ing a pint on cam­era before rap­ping it out.

Any­thing for the local econ­o­my!

Llan­fair­p­wll­gwyn­gyll­gogerych­wyrn­drob­wl­l­l­lan­tysil­i­o­gogogoc also got a boost from men­tions on Grou­cho Marx’s quiz show, You Bet Your Life, in a Bossa Nova-inflect­ed Stephen Sond­heim song, and in sev­er­al films, includ­ing 1968’s Bar­barel­la.

As YouTu­ber Tom Scott points out below, long words are invari­ably short­ened in every­day speech, and place names are no excep­tion.

Post­mas­ter Jim Evans advo­cates short­en­ing the town name to Llanfair­pwllgwyn­gyll.

When not active­ly impress­ing tourists, local peo­ple say Llan­fair­p­wll.

Which is still a pret­ty impres­sive con­so­nant to vow­el ratio.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Medieval City Plan Gen­er­a­tor: A Fun Way to Cre­ate Your Own Imag­i­nary Medieval Cities

The Atlas of True Names Restores Mod­ern Cities to Their Mid­dle Earth-ish Roots

Fly Through 17th-Cen­tu­ry London’s Grit­ty Streets with Prize-Win­ning Ani­ma­tions

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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