The Top 10 Most Famous City Nicknames

Have you ever wondered how New York got its nickname “The Big Apple” and did you know that Prague is nicknamed “The Golden City”?

When talking about nicknames most of us think about the abbreviations of longer names (such as Matt for Matthew) or the humorous and cruel nicknames we give each other as a sign of love/antipathy. However, if we talk about nicknames we tend to forget all the lovely names many geographical places carry that inspire us to visit.

My mum told me the other day that she is going to visit a city next month that carries the nickname “The City of White Nights”.  Despite my extensive travel experience I was wondering which city is hiding behind this appealing nickname and asked myself which other cities I know that carry nicknames and more importantly I wanted to find out the origin of their names.

This blog will uncover the secret behind the top 10 most famous nicknames of cities.


The Big Apple- New York

Did you know that New York actually has many nicknames? “New Amsterdam”, “Gotham City” and “The City that never sleeps” to name  just a few of them, but the most popular nickname remains “The Big Apple”. Discovering the origin of the nickname “The Big Apple” is quite a challenge and involved a journey around the World Wide Web as there are many different theories.


However, the first time that someone used the term “apple” in conjunction with New York was in the early 1920s in reference to the numerous horse racing courses in New York. These races were important to all New Yorkers and the prizes (consisting of an “apple”) were substantial. Subsequently the New York Morning Telegraph writer John Fitzgerald used the term “around the Big Apple” in his report about the New York City races. In the late 1930s the popular song “The Big Apple” solidified the nickname and the breakthrough for New York´s most famous nickname was the old saying in show business “There are many apples on the tree, but only one Big Apple”.


Sin City- Las Vegas

Many people visit Las Vegas in order to “let their hair down”, gamble, party and do things they wouldn´t do at home. When they board the plane they like the idea of leaving all behind because what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Do I have to say more?



The Golden City-Prague

Prague is known as the “Golden City” but also as the “Heart of Europe” due to its central location in Europe and the fact that the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Adriatic Sea are located within the same distance to Prague.  There is no official origin of the nickname “The Golden City” but it is assumed that the city carries the name due to the numerous beautiful golden roofs and the baroque churches that sparkle golden, especially at night. The best views on the “Golden City” can be enjoyed from Hradcany , the Castle District of Prague.



The City of Love – Paris

Paris is not only the capital of France, it is also said to be the “City of Love” and the most romantic place on earth. Anyone who has ever been to Paris will know why this city is nicknamed “The City of Love”- Paris offers the perfect setting for a romantic moment, it has an elegant and beautiful Gothic architecture, charming cafes and an outward expression of love. French culture is tolerant so don´t be afraid to kiss your sweetheart in public. And if you are brave enough why not ask for the hand of your chosen one in front of the Eiffel Tower?

The breathtaking view might make your partner say yes!




The Eternal City – Rome

Rome probably offers the most ancient character of all capitals in the world- it was founded in 753 BC by Romolus who named the city after himself. Even the ancient Romans called Rome “The Eternal City” because they thought that no matter what happened to the world, no matter how many other empires rise and fall, Rome would exist forever.

It is the oldest capital city of Europe and has managed to exist over decades, facing the empire of Carthage, the Sabines, the Etruscans and the Samnites, just to name a few. Walk any street in Rome and you will experience the evidence of timelessness- in every corner you will find a statue, a piazza, an ancient wall, a fountain and you will get lost in small side-streets.



Athens of the North-Edinburgh

Athens is too far away? Visit Edinburgh! Due to the vast amount of historic buildings and monuments the capital of Scotland carries the nickname “Athens of the North”.  Architects of the buildings of the New Town looked to the masterpieces of ancient Greece for inspiration and created an Athens- like city; with the only difference being that Edinburgh has a castle built on top of an extinct volcano, which Athens hasn´t got!


The Square Mile- London

London is nicknamed “The Square Mile” as it is just over one square mile in area. Over the years, London obviously grew from this area but the official City has not changed in size. As simple as that!

The City of White Nights- St. Petersburg

From May till early July the nights are bright in St. Petersburg– visitors and inhabitants of the city can enjoy around 80 evenings of nearly round-the-clock daylight. That is also the reason why this beautiful city carries the nickname “The City of White Nights”. This natural spectacle is caused by St. Petersburg´s very northerly geographical situation at it stands at such high latitude that the sun never dips far beneath the horizon, even at night.

During the eternal twilight many residents just stay up all night and enjoy the unique atmosphere, they visit the numerous famous cultural events that have been inspired by this phenomenon and couples simply stroll by the river Neva late in the evening.



The White City- Lisbon

The capital of Portugal is known as “The White City” thanks to its clear light and the fact that the sun´s reflection from countless panes of glass spreads light into every corner of Lisbon.







Venice of the North- Amsterdam

Many places are being compared with Venice in Italy, usually due to the high density of waterways and canals. The term “Venice of the North” in fact refers to many cities in northern Europe, such as Hamburg, Bruges, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Manchester, St. Petersburg and Amsterdam. The latter has, however, prevailed boasting over 165 canals. Did you know that Amsterdam is also the most “watery” city in the world today?




Congratulations to Michael Auckland who is the winner of this week’s Where in the World Wednesday competition.

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