Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London; the city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, contiguous with its capital, Potsdam; the two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. Berlin straddles the banks of the River Spree, which flows into the River Havel in the western borough of Spandau. Among the city's main topographical features are the many lakes in the western and southeastern boroughs formed by the Spree and Dahme rivers. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. About one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, gardens, rivers and lakes; the city lies in the Central German dialect area, the Berlin dialect being a variant of the Lusatian-New Marchian dialects.
First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich. Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany. Berlin is a world city of culture, politics and science, its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a complex public transportation network; the metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries include IT, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology and electronics.
Berlin is home to world-renowned universities, orchestras and entertainment venues, is host to many sporting events. Its Zoological Garden is one of the most popular worldwide. With the world's oldest large-scale movie studio complex, Berlin is an popular location for international film productions; the city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Since the 2000s Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene. Berlin lies in northeastern Germany, east of the River Saale, that once constituted, together with the River Elbe, the eastern border of the Frankish Realm. While the Frankish Realm was inhabited by Germanic tribes like the Franks and the Saxons, the regions east of the border rivers were inhabited by Slavic tribes; this is why most of the villages in northeastern Germany bear Slavic-derived names. Typical Germanised place name suffixes of Slavic origin are -ow, -itz, -vitz, -witz, -itzsch and -in, prefixes are Windisch and Wendisch.
The name Berlin has its roots in the language of West Slavic inhabitants of the area of today's Berlin, may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl-. Since the Ber- at the beginning sounds like the German word Bär, a bear appears in the coat of arms of the city, it is therefore a canting arm. Of Berlin's twelve boroughs, five bear a Slavic-derived name: Pankow, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Treptow-Köpenick and Spandau. Of its ninety-six neighborhoods, twenty-two bear a Slavic-derived name: Altglienicke, Alt-Treptow, Buch, Gatow, Kladow, Köpenick, Lankwitz, Lübars, Marzahn, Prenzlauer Berg, Schmöckwitz, Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow, Steglitz and Zehlendorf; the neighborhood of Moabit bears a French-derived name, Französisch Buchholz is named after the Huguenots. The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin are a wooden beam dated from 1192, remnants of a house foundation dated to 1174, found in excavations in Berlin Mitte; the first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century.
Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244. 1237 is considered the founding date of the city. The two towns over time formed close economic and social ties, profited from the staple right on the two important trade routes Via Imperii and from Bruges to Novgorod. In 1307, they formed an alliance with a common external policy, their internal administrations still being separated. In 1415, Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440. During the 15th century, his successors established Berlin-Cölln as capital of the margraviate, subsequent members of the Hohenzol
Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, its cultural and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union; until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC; the city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.
Apart from being regarded as the City of Music because of its musical legacy, Vienna is said to be "The City of Dreams" because it was home to the world's first psychoanalyst – Sigmund Freud. The city's roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is well known for having played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings and parks. Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first for the world's most liveable cities. Between 2011 and 2015, Vienna was ranked second, behind Melbourne. In 2018, it replaced Melbourne as the number one spot. For ten consecutive years, the human-resource-consulting firm Mercer ranked Vienna first in its annual "Quality of Living" survey of hundreds of cities around the world.
Monocle's 2015 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Vienna second on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within."The UN-Habitat classified Vienna as the most prosperous city in the world in 2012/2013. The city was ranked 1st globally for its culture of innovation in 2007 and 2008, sixth globally in the 2014 Innovation Cities Index, which analyzed 162 indicators in covering three areas: culture and markets. Vienna hosts urban planning conferences and is used as a case study by urban planners. Between 2005 and 2010, Vienna was the world's number-one destination for international congresses and conventions, it attracts over 6.8 million tourists a year. The English name Vienna is borrowed from the homonymous Italian version of the city's name or the French Vienne; the etymology of the city's name is still subject to scholarly dispute. Some claim that the name comes from Vedunia, meaning "forest stream", which subsequently produced the Old High German Uuenia, the New High German Wien and its dialectal variant Wean.
Others believe that the name comes from the Roman settlement name of Celtic extraction Vindobona meaning "fair village, white settlement" from Celtic roots, vindo-, meaning "bright" or "fair" – as in the Irish fionn and the Welsh gwyn –, -bona "village, settlement". The Celtic word Vindos may reflect a widespread prehistorical cult of a Celtic God. A variant of this Celtic name could be preserved in the Czech and Polish names of the city and in that of the city's district Wieden; the name of the city in Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian and Ottoman Turkish has a different Slavonic origin, referred to an Avar fort in the area. Slovene-speakers call the city Dunaj, which in other Central European Slavic languages means the Danube River, on which the city stands. Evidence has been found of continuous habitation in the Vienna area since 500 BC, when Celts settled the site on the Danube River. In 15 BC the Romans fortified the frontier city they called Vindobona to guard the empire against Germanic tribes to the north.
Close ties with other Celtic peoples continued through the ages. The Irish monk Saint Colman is buried in Melk Abbey and Saint Fergil served as Bishop of Salzburg for forty years. Irish Benedictines founded twelfth-century monastic settlements. Evidence of these ties persists in the form of Vienna's great Schottenstift monastery, once home to many Irish monks. In 976 Leopold I of Babenberg became count of the Eastern March, a 60-mile district centering on the Danube on the eastern frontier of Bavaria; this initial district grew into the duchy of Austria. Each succeeding Babenberg ruler expanded the march east along the Danube encompassing Vienna and the lands east. In 1145 Duke Henry II Jasomirgott moved the Babenberg family residence from Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria to Vienna. From that time, Vienna remained the center of the Babenberg dynasty. In 1440 Vienna became the resident city of the Habsburg dynasty, it grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire in 1437 and a cultural centre for arts and science and fine cuisine.
Hungary occupied the city between 1485 and 1490. In the 16th and 1
Albi is a commune in southern France. It is the prefecture of the Tarn department, on the river Tarn, 85 km northeast of Toulouse, its inhabitants are called Albigensians. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Albi; the episcopal city, around the Cathedral Sainte-Cécile, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2010. Albi is the seat of four cantons, covering 16 communes, with a total population of 71,281; the first human settlement in Albi was in the Bronze Age. After the Roman conquest of Gaul in 51 BC, the town became Civitas Albigensium, the territory of the Albigeois, Albiga. Archaeological digs have not revealed any traces of Roman buildings, which seems to indicate that Albi was a modest Roman settlement. In 1040, Albi constructed the Pont Vieux. New quarters indicative of considerable urban growth; the city grew rich at this time, thanks to trade and commercial exchanges, to the tolls charged to travelers for using the Pont Vieux. In 1208, the Pope and the French king joined forces to combat the Cathars, who had developed their own version of ascetic Christian dualism, so a heresy considered dangerous by the dominant Catholic Church.
Repression was severe, many Cathars were burnt at the stake throughout the region. The area, until virtually independent, was reduced to such a condition that it was subsequently annexed by the French Crown. After the upheaval of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, the bishop Bernard de Castanet, in the late 13th century, completed work on the Palais de la Berbie, a Bishops' Palace with the look of a fortress, he ordered the building of the cathedral of Sainte-Cécile starting in 1282. The town enjoyed a period of commercial prosperity due to the cultivation of Isatis Tinctoria known as woad; the fine houses built during the Renaissance bear witness to the vast fortunes amassed by the pastel merchants. Albi had a small Jewish community during medieval times, until it was annihilated in the 1320s Shepherds' Crusade. Since, Jews were only allowed to transit the town by payment, without living in it. In 1967 70 Jews lived in Albi, most of them of North-African origin. Albi has conserved its rich architectural heritage which encapsulates the various brilliant periods of its history.
Considerable improvement and restoration work has been done, to embellish the old quarters and to give them a new look, in which brick reigns supreme. Albi was built around the original episcopal group of buildings; this historic area covers 63 hectares. Red brick and tiles are the main feature of most of the edifices. Along with Toulouse and Montauban, Albi is one of the main cities built in Languedoc-style red brick. Among the buildings of the town is the Sainte Cécile cathedral, a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic style, built between the 13th and 15th centuries, it is characterised by a strong contrast between its austere, defensive exterior and its sumptuous interior decoration. Built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy, this gigantic brick structure was embellished over the centuries: the Dominique de Florence Doorway, the 78 m high bell tower, the Baldaquin over the entrance; the rood screen is a filigree work in stone in the Flamboyant Gothic style.
It is decorated with a magnificent group of polychrome statuary carved by artists from the Burgundian workshops of Cluny and comprising over 200 statues, which have retained their original colours. Older than the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Palais de la Berbie the Bishops' Palace of Albi, now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France; this imposing fortress was completed at the end of the 13th century. Its name comes from the Occitan word Bisbia; the Old Bridge is still in use after a millennium. Built in stone clad with brick, it rests on eight arches and is 151 m long. In the 14th century, it was fortified and reinforced with a drawbridge, houses were built on the piers. Albi is a city known for its elite Lycée Lapérouse, a high school with 500 students situated inside an old monastery, it has several advanced literature classes. Furthermore, it is one of the few holding a full-scale music section with special high-tech rooms for this section.
The Pacific explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse is commemorated in the museum. Located in an ancient mill, the Le LAIT Art Centre is a research laboratory dedicated to contemporary art; the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum houses more than 1000 works, including the 31 famous posters. This body of work forms the largest public collection in the world devoted to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, born in Albi in 1864. UNESCO's World Heritage Centre notes the Old Bridge, the Saint-Salvi quarter, the quarter's church, the fortified cathedral in unique southern French Gothic style from local brick, the bishop's Palais de la Berbie, residential quarters, which help the Episcopal City of Albi form a "coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments and quarters that has remained unchanged over the centuries... a complete built ensemble representative of a type of urban development in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day." Albi is served by two railway stations on the line from Toulouse to Rodez: Gare d'Albi-Ville Gare d'Albi-MadeleineThe A68 motorway connects Albi with Toulouse.
SC Albi – The city's rugby union team competing in the second-level Rugby Pro D2. RC Albi – A rugby league team that compete in the Elite One Championship. Albi
Düren is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, between Aachen and Cologne on the river Rur. Celts inhabited the area now known as Düren before the Roman invasion; the Celts called Durum. After the Celts, Germanic tribes settled this area, they were conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar. Durum became a supply area for the growing Roman city of Cologne. Furthermore, a few important Roman roads skirt Durum; the Romans remained in the area for about 400 years. The name "villa duria" occurred the first time in the Frankish Annals in the year 747. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Franks settled in Düren; the Frankish king Pippin der Kleine visited Düren in the 8th century and held a few important conventions there. Pippin was the father of the famous emperor Charlemagne; the Franks made of Durum a royal palace. Charlemagne sojourned a few times there; the castle was built at the place. Due to the frequent visits of Charlemagne, a few markets sprang up, such as the corn, wood and butter markets, all of which contributed to Düren's development.
Düren obtained city rights in the early 13th century. Around 1200, the construction of the city wall was started, which includes 5 gates; the gates faced all directions: in the north, the Philippstor) and the Wirteltor, in the east the Kölntor, in the south the Obertor and in the west the Holztor. There are still ruins of the gates today; the chiseler Leonhard stole a small box with the relic of Saint Anne out of the Mainzer Stiftskirche St. Stephan in 1501 and brought it to Düren. Pope Julius II decided on March 1506 that Düren could keep the remains, they were kept in the Martinskirche, renamed the Annakirche in 1505.. Saint Anne became the patron saint of Düren; every year, the saint's day of Saint Anne is celebrated for one week with the Anna octavos and the Anna parish fair, one of the biggest folk festivals of Germany. In 1642, Düren was embroiled in the Thirty Years' War. Opposing troops destroyed the city. After the war has ended in 1648, plague broke out and caused many lives to be lost.
A second plague epidemic broke out in 1665. Due to the various attacks on the debilitated city, Düren was destroyed again in 1679. In this time, the settlement Miesheim was destroyed. Towards the end of the year 1755 in the area around Düren and Aachen began a series of earthquakes, which reached its peak on February 18, 1756 with an earthquake with the strength 8 on the Mercalli scale; the series of earthquakes affected all of Europe, most famously the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The businesses in the area of Düren was affected since the 15th century by the drapery and metal industry. Since the beginning of the 17th century, paper industry had settled here, advantaged by the exceptionally soft water of the Rur. Rütger von Scheven built the first paper mill in Düren. In 1812, there were 17 paper factories, 11 cloth- and blanket factories, one masticator and two iron foundries. In the year 1794, Düren was occupied by French revolutionary troops. From 1798 until 1814, Düren was the main city of the same named canton in the arrondissement Aachen of the French Roerdepartements.
After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Düren was ceded to the Kingdom of Prussia and was subsequently administered within the Rhine Province. By 1900, Düren was among Germany's richest cities and had a population of 27,168. By comparison, fewer than 5,000 people had lived in Düren a century earlier; the city of Düren was located on the main fighting front during the Allied invasion of Germany in World War II. During 1944 and 1945, the protracted and bloody Battle for Hürtgenwald was fought on Düren's district area, on November 16, 1944, Düren was destroyed by Allied air bombings. 22,000 people lived in Düren at that time, 3,000 of them died during the bombing. Those who survived were evacuated to central Germany. Destroyed buildings included the Stadttheater Düren, designed in Jugendstil by Carl Moritz. On February 25, 1945, U. S. troops crossed the Rur at Düren. After the war was over in the summer that year, many evacuated people came back to the destroyed city and started to rebuild their homes against the advice of the American troops.
By June 1945, the population had risen to 3,806. Most of the architecture in Düren therefore dates from the 1950s; the most famous museum of Düren is the Leopold Hoesch Museum. The in 1905 in Baroque Revival architecture erected building presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art. Since 1986, can be seen artworks of the international Biennale PaperArt. Since 2006, is in the former nurses' home of the St. Augustinus Hospital Lendersdorf the Düren Carnival Museum; the most recent museum is the in 2009 founded Stadtmuseum Düren. This museum shows an exhibition of the local history; the former Stadttheater Düren was opened in January 1907. In the bombing of November 16, 1944 the theatre was completely destroyed. Today cultural performances take place at the Haus der Stadt. Since 2004 the multi-functional Arena Kreis Düren, which has around 2000 seats, serves as a venue for major concerts. At the edge of the forest in the Niederau district
Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of, 512 metres high. Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative centre of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia.
Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and many international sport tournaments. Barcelona is one of the world's leading tourist, trade fair and cultural centres, its influence in commerce, entertainment, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities, it is a major cultural and economic centre in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world and a financial centre. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion. In 2009 the city was ranked one of the world's most successful as a city brand.
In the same year the city was ranked Europe's fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, the city has been experiencing strong and renewed growth for the past three years. Since 2011 Barcelona has been a leading smart city in Europe. Barcelona is a transport hub, with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles over 50 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network, a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe; the name Barcelona comes from the ancient Iberian Barkeno, attested in an ancient coin inscription found on the right side of the coin in Iberian script as, in ancient Greek sources as Βαρκινών, Barkinṓn. Some older sources suggest that the city may have been named after the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, supposed to have founded the city in the 3rd century BC, but there is no evidence that Barcelona was a Carthaginian settlement, or that its name in antiquity, had any connection with the Barcid family of Hamilcar.
During the Middle Ages, the city was variously known as Barchinona, Barçalona and Barchenona. Internationally, Barcelona's name is wrongly abbreviated to'Barça'. However, this name refers only to the football club; the common abbreviated form used by locals is Barna. Another common abbreviation is'BCN', the IATA airport code of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport; the city is referred to as the Ciutat Comtal in Catalan, Ciudad Condal in Spanish, owing to its past as the seat of the Count of Barcelona. The origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear; the ruins of an early settlement have been found, including different tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 BC. The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends; the first attributes the founding of the city to the mythological Hercules. The second legend attributes the foundation of the city directly to the historical Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC, but there is no historical or linguistic evidence that this is true.
In about 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the contemporary city hall. Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Pomponius Mela mentions it among the small towns of the district as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco, but it may be gathered from writers that it grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour, it enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins. Important Roman vestiges are displayed in Plaça del Rei underground, as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum; some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral known as the Basilica La Seu, is said to have been founded in 343; the city
European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture
The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award is a Prize given biennially by the European Union and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona,'to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe'. The Prize was created in 1987 as equal partnerships between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe; the award is open to all the works completed in Europe within the two-year period before the granting of the Prize. These works are submitted by independent experts, the national architecture associations and the advisory committee of the Prize and evaluated by a Jury, defined for each edition; the five finalist works are visited by the Jury who chooses a Prize Winner and an Emerging Architect Winner. As of 2016, a new category, the Young Talent Architecture Award, highlights the final degree projects of graduated architects, landscape architects and urban designers. List of architecture prizes YTAA website Fundació Mies van der Rohe website Creative Europe website
Laval is a town in western France, about 300 km west-southwest of Paris, the capital of the Mayenne department. Laval was before the French Revolution part of the province of Maine, now split between two departments and Sarthe, its inhabitants are called Lavallois. The commune of Laval proper, without the metropolitan area, is the 13th most populous in northwestern France and the 119th in France. A part of the traditional province of Maine, Laval lies on the threshold of Brittany and is not far from Normandy and Anjou, it was thus an important stronghold in northwestern France during the Middle Ages. Laval became a city during the 11th century, was the cradle of the House of Laval, one of the most powerful families in Maine and Brittany; the counts of Laval developed a textile industry around 1300 and made Laval a significant centre for the French Renaissance a century later. The linen industry remained the principal activity in Laval until the 20th century, when milk processing became more profitable.
Laval developed around a promontory, on which the castle was built, along the river Mayenne. The Laval metropolitan area is a small economic centre in western France active in the industrial sector, dairy production and chemicals. Laval is economically oriented towards Rennes, the administrative capital of the region of Brittany, located only 80 kilometres west of Laval. Laval proper covers 34.2 square kilometres and has a population of 51,182 inhabitants, while c. 120,000 live in its metropolitan area. The Laval Agglomération intercommunality is made up of 20 communes covering 433 square kilometres with 95,000 inhabitants. Laval is notably the birthplace of Henri Rousseau, a major Naïve painter, the town has a museum dedicated to him and other Naïve artists. Laval enjoys a significant architectural heritage, with its castle, portions of city walls, medieval houses, old bridges and churches. Laval is a new foundation in comparison to other French cities; that is to say that the borough was not mentioned prior to the 11th century.
According to legend glorifying the Counts of Laval, mediaeval chroniclers portrayed the citizens of Laval as being the offspring of Charles Martel's grandson Wala of Corbie. By virtue of the chroniclers' accounts, Laval should be a synonym for "Vala" or "Valla"—the two spelling variants of "Wala". Etymologically spoken, the name of Laval, in all likelihood stands for "the valley" in French, to capture the lush valley of the Mayenne river, wherein Laval is situated; this name appears in other French location names, sometimes with a second word, such as in Laval-d'Aurelle or Laval-sur-Doulon. The first mention of the town was the Latin Vallis Guidonis, meaning "Guy's valley", because the counts of Laval were all called Guy. On its side, the castle was named Castrum Guidonis or Aula Guidonis. During the 11th century, Laval is called Castrum Vallis or Vallis. Other Latin names include Castrum de Valibus. Lavallum Guidonis is first written in 1239. After the Renaissance and Lavallium are both used by the clergy and the scholars.
As in Latin, the name evolved in French from Laval-Guyon to Laval in one single word. Laval is one of the few cities in the world to have a palindrome as a name, as Laval can be read the same way in either direction. Laval is located at the geographical centre of the Mayenne department, on the road which connects Paris to Brittany, between Rennes and Le Mans; the town is situated on the middle course of the Mayenne, a river which has its source in Normandy and runs towards the Loire crossing the Mayenne department from North to South. Laval is located 70 kilometres from Rennes, 75 kilometres from Le Mans and Angers, 130 km from Nantes, 135 km from Tours, 150 km from Caen and 280 km from Paris, it is 100 km far from Le Mont-Saint-Michel and the surrounding sea resorts, located on the English Channel. Elevation varies between 122 meters above sea level. Laval is, in fact, a hilly town, marked by a rocky promontory dominating the valley of the Mayenne river; the castle was built on this promontory and the medieval centre spreads around.
The promontory and the hilly landscape around Laval are traces of the Armorican Massif, an old range of mountains that forms the Breton peninsula. The town is surrounded by agricultural land made of large fields; the traditional bocage with its old hedgerows is still visible. Laval is surrounded by several forests, such as the Forêt de Concise, with c. 600 hectares, the Bois de l'Huisserie, with 254 hectares. Both are located south of the town; the commune of Laval is bordered by seven other communes. These are, Changé, Bonchamp-lès-Laval, Forcé, Entrammes, L'Huisserie, Montigné-le-Brillant and Saint-Berthevin. Saint-Berthevin forms part of the agglomeration, Changé and Bonchamp-lès-Laval are well integrated, but the other communes remain rural areas with villages and hamlets. 12 other communes situated farther form with them the Communauté d'agglomération de Laval. They unite c. 95,000 inhabitants. Laval enjoys a mild climate because of its proximity with the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, giving it an oceanic climate.
Winters are wet, with scarce frosts and snowfalls, summers are warm and sunny, although rainfalls are common. The oldest streets and buildings in Laval are located around the promontory; the urban structure there dates back from the