How Famous Cities Got Their Nicknames

POSTED BY Heather Johnson, UPDATED ON January 31st, 2024
How Famous Cities Got Their Nicknames

There are many iconic cities around the world. Most of us would have heard of them and some of us have been lucky enough to visit them. One thing that they all seem to have in common is that they tend to have a nickname attached to them. Some are quite obvious and others need a little bit more explanation. They are of course just nicknames and never recognized as official as you wouldn’t be seeing an airline ticket from London to “Sin City” any time soon. Here we present to you a list of how famous cities got their nicknames:


The Big Apple

The Big Apple

New York has been referred to as the “Big Apple” synonymously with the “City That Never Sleeps”. As far as the former nickname is concerned, there are conflicting theories as to where it originated. The generally accepted one focuses on the fact that the city has a long history of horse racing.

In the 1920s, the reward for a win was said to be an apple, which was considered a worthy reward in those days. Others have said that it was a term that was coined in conversation after a journalist referred to it as such on return from a trip to the city.


The Eternal City

The Eternal City

Rome is the oldest capital in Europe dating back to 753 BC. It is said that it gets its name from the Roman Emperor, Romulus who named the city after himself.

It was considered “eternal” from its inception as the belief was that Rome would always be in existence no matter what disasters or tragedies occurred. The recent Eurozone crisis might have something to say about that though.


Sin City

Sin City

Another US city, Las Vegas has often been referred to as “Sin City”. Of course, it’s not hard to see why. The city consists of many casino strips and hotels and has been considered a Mecca for gambling for people all over the world for many years.

Add to the fact that it was a like a magnet for gangsters and prostitutes then you can see why it got this name. They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


The City of Love

Paris The City of Love

Paris is not the only city with this particular nickname but it is the one most of us think about when we hear it. Paris is widely known as the city of love because the French have the language of love. The title potentially dates back to the late nineteenth century when the Eiffel Tower was first erected.

The significance here is that most people from around the world consider looking up at the lights of the Eiffel Tower with their loved ones as one of the most romantic things you can do.


The Big Smoke

London The Big Smoke 

The capital city of London has for a long time been referred to by this name and the main reason for this is down to the fact that during the times of the Industrial Revolution, the city was full of smoke and smog.

The atmosphere was particularly unhealthy and it didn’t look like it does today.


The Venice of the North

Amsterdam The Venice of the North

This is another easy one. Amsterdam does not need any more research other than direct observation.

It is a flat city with a river running through it which is basically what Venice is, except that Amsterdam is in the northern vicinity of Europe.


The Golden City

Prague The Golden City

Prague is a beautiful city. It’s one of those places which is steeped in history and intrigue. The architecture is stunning and one of the things which contributes to this is the fact that many of the buildings have golden roofs.

It is said that in the 14th century, the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV ordered the roofs of Prague Castle to be covered in gold. Each night in the city, the roofs of the buildings glisten golden without fail.

Do you know about the origin of any other famous city’s nickname? Share with us in the comments below!

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