Some places have names that are difficult to pronounce or spell. For example, unless you’re a local, you probably don’t know how to pronounce Worcester, Massachusetts (hint: like woos-ter). And what about La Jolla, California? If you’ve been pronouncing those l’s, you’re wrong: The name is Spanish and is pronounced la hoy-ya. So yes, some towns and cities have confusing names that can feel like tongue twisters.
But then there are some places like these five towns and cities with names so long you’ll throw your hands up in frustration. And it’s important to note, you might find yourself objecting to some of the entries on this list, but they’re accurate. While many sites list any place with a long name like landmarks, farms, or lakes, we’re focusing on actual towns and cities.
5. Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Portugal (24 letters)
Loosely translated, Freixo de Espada a Cinta means “Ash tree girded with sword.” And at 24 letters, it’s the shortest of the long-name towns on our list. The Portuguese city is located near the Spanish border along the Douro River Valley, a popular wine region. The town’s history goes back as far as the Roman Empire. Historians agree that the Narbasi, an Iberian clan, were the first to settle in the region. The full origin story behind this town’s long name is shrouded in folklore. But the only aspect that all parties agree on is the fact that the word “freixo” refers to ash trees, which are commonly found in the region.
4. Azpilicuetagaraycosaroyarenberecolarrea, Spain (39 letters)
Shifting over to Portugal’s next-door neighbor, we visit Spain and a town with a 39-letter name. Azpilicuetagaraycosaroyarenberecolarrea is certainly a mouthful. The word is actually Basque in origin and can be translated to mean “the low field of a high pen in Azpilicuet.” This lengthy town name is not only the longest in Spain but the second longest in Europe. The town is located in the Navarra province, which borders the Basque community. Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to pronounce this one!
3. El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (Sobre el Rio de la Porciuncula), United States (54 letters)
So, you might be surprised to find that some of the towns and cities on this list are places now known by a different name. Most people think that Los Angeles is short for “City of Angels” or “Cuidad de Angeles” in Spanish. But it turns out that Los Angeles is short for something much, much longer. The California metropolis once had a long (but pronounceable) name given to it by Spanish settlers. Los Angeles was originally named after a nearby river, El Rio de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles de La Poricuncula (River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Poricuncula). So the original name was El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (Sobre el Rio de la Porciuncula) or Town of the Queen of the Angels (on the Poricuncula River). But over time, no one felt like saying that mouthful and it got cut short to “Los Angeles.”
2. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales (58 letters)
We’re back to unpronounceable names with this entry from Wales. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the longest name of a town in the United Kingdom and all of Europe. However, most people just say Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG for short—which is far easier to say. Llanfair PG is actually a community of villages located on the Island of Anglesey in Wales. Once upon a time, the town was originally known as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll. But in the 1860s, the town decided to change its name to its current impossible length as a form of promotion. So what does that name mean anyway? When translated from Welsh, it 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.”
1. Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, Thailand (176 letters)
And finally, we come to the winner—a major city that blows all the competition away with a name that’s 176 letters in length. If you can’t pronounce that super-long name, you probably know this bustling capital city by its common name among foreigners...Bangkok. Yes, that’s right: Locals and Thai citizens don’t call the city Bangkok.
When translated, that overwhelming original name means “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Intra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.” But even locals don’t feel like saying all of that every time they mention this place. So, they usually say Krung Thep Mahanakhon or Krung Thep for short. Both of these shortcuts translate to “city of angels.”
So maybe it’s time to plan a trip around the world to visit some of these impossibly named cities. Or, maybe this means you’ll win that one random round at your local bar’s next trivia night!
Cover image credit: StockImageGroup / iStock