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Have you ever started to read a word but stopped in the middle because you realised that you already forgot the beginning of it? If not, you're in for a surprise! Read on to discover the top five longest place names in Europe!

# 5: Newtownmountkennedy, 19 letters

640px-The_Devils_Glen_-_geograph.org.uk_-_290241
Photo: JP (CC BY-SA-2.0)
The Devil's Glen close to Newtownmountkennedy

Newtownmountkennedy, or Baile an Chinnéidigh in Irish, meaning "Kennedy's Town", is the village with the longest place name in Ireland. Located in the Eastern-most part of Ireland, the village is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of woods and hills. 

With its beautiful and characteristic surroundings, and still a short way (only 30 km) from Dublin, Newtownmountkennedy is a popular tourist destination. One of the most remarkable sights of the area is a gorge called the Devil's Glen, which is both a coveted destination for hikers as well as art lovers: since 1994, the site has been the home of several sculptures by different artists who have been inspired by the rugged beauty of the Irish landscape, a collection of artworks which has been described by Nobel prize-winner and author Seamus Heany as "an act of faith in the worth of art itself, an act of commitment to the positive values of form and order and solitary contemplation." 

At the end of the Devil's Glen, The River Vantrey forms a waterfall which is around 100 ft high and by many considered the most beautiful waterfall in Ireland. With the combination of the beauty of art and nature, it is no wonder that the site had such an impact in Seamus Heany himself. So, whether you are looking for peace and quiet in the Irish countryside, artistic experiences, or just a good old fashioned pint of Guinness at a local bar, Newtownmountkennedy certainly sounds worth a visit!

# 4: Siemieniakowszczyzna, 20 letters

The next stop on our longest place names tour is Siemieniakowszczyzna, a village in Hajnówka County in north-eastern Poland, close to the border with Belarus. The village itself, literally meaning "ground of Siemienak" or simply "Siemienakishness", is small and picturesque and surrounded by old forests. Many tourists who visit this region come for the bird-watching, although there are many other reasons to visit as well: for example, a beautiful "kirkut" (a Polish name for a Jewish cemetery) and an old orthodox church located in the village itself. 

Another extraordinary site in the area around Siemieniakowszczyzna is a grove of monumental oaks and pines dubbed "trees in love" by the locals because the trees intersect with each other's branches as if they were trying to embrace one another, eternally caught so close, yet inches away from ever touching. Trees in love? Sounds worth a visit!


# 3: Gasselterboerveenschemond, 25 letters

The Dutch settlement of Gasselterboerveenschemond lies in the province of Drenthe in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. It is a rural hamlet which is even too small to be considered a village. The geographical area "Gasselterboerveenschemond", which includes the population of the nearby countryside, is populated by only approximately 40 people.

Just one letter longer than the village Gasselternijveenschemond, which is only a few kilometres away, Gasselterboerveenschemond is the longest one-word town name in the Netherlands (Gasselterboerveenschemond / Gasselternijveenschemond - would you be able to tell the difference if you drove past the sign? The locals must be used to getting lost after reading the sign a tad too quickly!). But that's not all, folks - the Northeastern part of the Netherlands is known for having not just a few, but quite a number of extraordinarily long place names - Annerveenschekanaal, Eexterveenschekanaal, Eexterzandvoort, Gasselterboerveen or Gasselternijveen are only a few of them. Yet even though there are so many long place names, there is not one single railway station in the area. Perhaps the Dutch railway company ran out of money for train station signs when equipping this area with railway stations... 

# 2: Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä, 35 letters

Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä is a region consisting mainly of wetlands in Lapland, Finland, and the longest place name in Finland. Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä is situated in Savukoski, which is one of the largest municipalities in Finland, yet scarsely populated (population density is only 0.18 inhabitants per square kilometre). Whether the low population density is because people fled because they couldn't spell Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä or because the region is located well inside the Arctic Circle is unknown. 

In accordance with the Northern locality, legend has it that the Finnish Santa Claus, called Joulupukki, lives at the Korvatunturi Fell close to Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä. In English, Korvatunturi translates into English as "Ear Fell". From "Ear Fell", Santa can presumably hear everything that small Finnish children are saying, and thereby decide if they have been good enough to deserve presents the following Christmas. 

640px-Ateritsiputeritsipuolilautatsibaari
Image: Motopark (PD)
"Should we meet up at the bar? You know, the one called Äteri... Äteritsiput... Never mind. The one on the corner?"

But this was not, at least until 2006, the only reason to visit Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä. In the town of Salva, a hopeful pub owner had opened a pub and couldn't find a suitable name for it. He had already applied two different names for his pub, but both were already taken. What, then, was he to call his pub? He settled on a name that he knew no one else would think of using: the catcy Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsi-baari, thus earning himself ownership of the most lengthily named registered commercial establishment in Finland. But alas, the bar closed in 2006, maybe because people had trouble finding directions. 


# 1: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, 58 letters

640px-Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch_station_sign
Image: Chris McKenna (CC BY-SA-3.0)
Poor train conductors, they must have high stress levels when announcing the arrival at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!

Taking the prize for the longest place name in Europe is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! It is a large village on the island of Anglesey in Wales. It also has the undisputable longest valid domain name on the World Wide Web. In 2002 it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

The name actually means "Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave". While the long name may be annoying for some locals - the employees at the tourist office are expected to be able to pronounce the name flawlessly at least 30 times a day - this place name also plays a major part in the village's popularity among tourists: many visitors come here to have their photograph taken at the railway sign or have 'passports' stamped at a local shop.

But in fact, this extraordinarily long name was not always as long as it is today. The virtually unpronouncable name was invented as a marketing trick! In the 1850's, a committee of locals was established in order to develop the area as a tourist destination - and to encourage train companies to expand their infrastructure. Although never verified, it is believed that the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch was invented back then by a local cobbler. While it may have seemed stupid back then ("Look fellows! I have a plan to make this town more popular with the tourists! Let's name it something they can't even begin to pronounce correctly!"), the name is still used, making it one of the most clever tourist promotion tricks ever. Are you already thinking of re-naming your hometown?

 

Have we missed any crazily named towns or villages, or does your hometown name have an even wilder story behind it than Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch? Let us know in the comments!

Thumbnail photo: M. Adiputra (CC BY-SA-3.0)

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