The Second Names of Cities in the UK and Around the World

Adams Peter

Adams Peter

The Second Names of Cities in the UK and Around the World

The Big Apple, The City of Love… have you ever wondered where these cities got their nicknames from? With some nicknames born out of affection whilst others stem from traditions or history, we’ve identified over 100 city nicknames from around the world and have delved into the history of a handful from each continent, to discover exactly where the names come from.

UK & Ireland

Oxford – The City of Dreaming Spires: Known globally for its prestigious university, Oxford caught the eyes of Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, who gave the city this nickname in his poem ‘Thyrsis’, in reference to the spectacular architecture of the university buildings.

Birmingham – The City of a Thousand Trades: Back in 1889, Birmingham achieved city status thanks to the number of businesses that chose to base themselves in the area, largely due to its vast water network. After its huge contribution to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, Birmingham was branded the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’.

Edinburgh – Auld Reekie (Old Smokey): This nickname originates from back in the 16th and 17th centuries. During this time, the city was surrounded by walls, resulting in squashed narrow streets lined with tall buildings, which caused smoke from bellowing chimneys to fill the air and hang over the city like a fog.

Cardiff – City of Arcades: Cardiff is known as the “City of Arcades” due to having seven Victorian, Edwardian, and contemporary indoor shopping arcades – the highest concentration compared to any other British city.

Manchester – The Rainy City: Up in the North-West of the UK, Manchester has developed a reputation for being one of the wettest cities in the country, earning it the nickname ‘the Rainy City’. Historically, it was believed that the reliably damp weather was a helping hand in the success of Manchester’s cotton industry since it provided the ideal humidity for cotton’s processing. Despite its reputation, recent findings show Manchester to be drier than several other UK cities, but nevertheless the popular nickname has stuck.

London – The Big Smoke: This nickname dates all the way back to the 19th century, when smoke covered the city of London – largely caused by the burning of coal and worsened by the Industrial Revolution. The term was popular amongst rural visitors who could see the thick fog engulfing the city as they travelled towards it.

Newcastle – The Toon: Even though Newcastle is actually a city and not a town, it is known as ‘The Toon’ due to the way that the Geordies pronounce the word ‘town’. Fans of the football team Newcastle United are commonly referred to as the ‘Toon Army’.

Dublin – The Fair City: This nickname is coined due to the first line of Dublin’s unofficial anthem “Molly Malone” (“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty…”). This popular song set in Dublin was first recorded in the 1876 and is also known as “Cockles and Mussels”.


Stockholm – Beauty on Water:  Built upon 14 lush green islands and connected by 57 bridges, the Swedish capital is affectionately known by its inhabitants as ‘Beauty on Water.’

Helsinki – The White City of the North: Known as one of the coldest capital cities in the world, Finland’s largest city of Helsinki is also referred by another title. This nickname, the ‘White City of the North’ is derived from the fact that many of Helsinki’s buildings are constructed of a local light-coloured granite, making the buildings white.

Vienna – City of Music: Due to its excellent reputation as a place to thrive as a musical artist, many composers flocked to the capital city of Vienna in the hope of success throughout the 19th century. In fact, more composers have lived in Vienna than in any other city in the world.

Prague – City of 100 spires: Packed full of churches, cathedrals, and towers, you’ll be sure to see spires everywhere you turn in the city of Prague. Back in the 19th century, a mathematician took it upon himself to count all the spires landing on ‘100’ as the total. Today, the count is more like 500 spires, but the nickname has stuck!

Paris – the City of Love: Love is always in the air in Paris, with art and romanticism deeply rooted in Parisian culture. The city’s beautiful backdrops and sensational settings ooze romance, earning it arguably one of the most famous city nicknames of all.

Milan – Fashion Capital of the World: Hosting its first fashion week all the way back in 1958, Milan has always been a key player in fashion. Over the years it gained a reputation for its more stylish and affordable fashion. Milan is now home to some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Prada, and Valentino and continues to attract the best in the business.

Rome – The Eternal City: With history that spans millennia, it’s no surprise thatthis nickname for Italy’s capital city can be traced all the way back to Ancient Rome. Citizens believed that Rome would thrive forever and would never fall, earning it the nickname of ‘The Eternal City’.

Cadiz – The Little Silver Cup: This ancient port city found in the Andalucía region of Spain is fondly known as ‘the Little Silver Cup’ due to its ‘cup-like shape with the ocean as its plate’.

Bordeaux – City of Wine: The introduction of wine to the Bordeaux region dates all the way back to around 100AD. Throughout the centuries, the French city has continued to produce fantastic wine due to the ideal climate for growing grape vines. Today, the city has over 6,700 wine producers.

Frankfurt – Mainhattan: Over the past few decades, the German city of Frankfurt has sprouted a large selection of skyscrapers. This has resulted in a visually impressive skyline, similar to that of Manhattan (the island borough that holds the majority of New York City’s skyline). As the city lies on the river Main, the nickname ‘Mainhattan’ was born.

Asia and Oceania

Tel Aviv – The Nonstop City: Recognised for the 24/7 culture and bustling nightlife, the city of Tel Aviv has been earnt the nickname ‘The Nonstop City’, which dates back to the late 1980s.

Tehran – The City of 72 Nations: Tehran’s flourishing economy and central position has led to many immigrants settling there from other Iranian cities, giving it the nickname of ‘The City of 72 Nations’.

Shanghai – The Magic City:Japanese writer, Shōfu Muramatsu, first mentioned this name for Shanghai in his novel ‘Mato’ in 1924, which depicted Shanghai as a dichotomic city where both light and darkness existed. This contemporary nickname is known widely amongst the youth of China.

St Petersburg – The Window to the West: Due to the European feel of the city, with its boulevards, canals, and Baroque buildings, it’s not hard to see why Russians refer to St Petersburg as ‘Russia’s Window to the West’.

Kuala Lumpur – The Golden Triangle: Bordered by three main roads, Jalan Imbi, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur’s commercial, shopping and entertainment hub is captured in a triangle shape, earning the city the nickname of the Golden Triangle.

Sydney – The Harbour City: Arguably Australia’s most famous city, Sydney is built around Port Jackson which includes Sydney Harbour. Located on Australia’s south-eat coast and home to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, it’s not difficult to see where this nickname came from.

Wellington – Windy Wellington: Capital city of New Zealand, Wellington is often windy all year round. As it is located close to the mouth of the narrow Cook Strait, the city is left vulnerable to strong winds and gales.

Jakarta – The Big Durian: Often compared to New York due its rapid growth, the Indonesian city took a spin on NYC’s nickname of ‘The Big Apple’ and instead is referred to as ‘The Big Durian’, after the native fruit of the region.

Petra – The Red Rose City: This ancient city, located in Jordan, is known as the ‘Red Rose City’ because of the beautiful colour of the stone from which it is carved.

Mumbai – The City of Dreams: Home to Bollywood, the charm and appeal of the films and the lifestyles that are portrayed are often associated with Mumbai as a whole. Alongside this, many migrants move to Mumbai in search of a better life in general – to ‘follow their dreams’. Due to this, there is a blatant attraction to the city of Mumbai, earning it this nickname of ‘The City of Dreams’.

Singapore – The Lion City: Back in the 14th century, Singapore was named “Singapura”, deriving from the Sanskrit words ‘simha’ (“lion”) and ‘pura’ (“city”). According to legend, whilst passing by on a hunting trip, a Sumatran prince thought he saw a lion on the coast. Believing it to be a sign of good luck, the prince founded a city on the spot. As homage to the country’s sea-town origin and its ‘Lion City’ nickname, the official mascot of Singapore became the ‘Merlion’.

Jaipur – The Pink City: Back in 1876, Jaipur’s King, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh, was keen to impress his royal guest, HRH Albert II, the Prince of Wales. At the time, pink was the colour used to represent hospitality, so the Maharaja painted the whole city pink to welcome the prince. He even passed a law that dictated that it is illegal for government buildings in Jaipur to be painted anything other than pink– a law that still exists today!

North America

Chicago – The Windy City: Chicago is not actually the windiest city in the US (this title actually belongs to Dodge City, Kansas). Instead, this city was given its name after an editor of the “New York Sun,” published the phrase in reference to the ‘city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York’.[1]

Tijuana – Television Capital of the World: This name came about due to Tijuana’s reputation for television manufacturing in the 1980s. Still to this day, the region produces over 19 million TVs each year.

Detroit – Motor City: Detroit, Michigan, earned its name back in the early twentieth century. Henry Ford (founder of Ford Motor Company) and Ransom Olds (inventor of the automobile assembly line) started their businesses here, and soon the skilled workforce, established supply chain and ability to mass produce led Detroit to become the automobile hub of the world.


New York – The Big Apple: Back in the 1920s, sports reporter John J. Fitz Gerald began using the phrase throughout his horse racing columns after hearing two stable hands refer to New York City’s racetracks as the ‘big apples’. The term then spread and was used to indicate the ‘big leagues’ that New York City was home to, not just in sport but in music and nightlife too. The term later fizzled out of use but was revived in the 1970s as part of a tourist advertising campaign. It is now arguably one of the most well-known city nicknames globally.

Toronto – Queen City: Nothing really was happening in Toronto until during the reign of Queen Victoria, when the city transformed itself into one that could rival Lower Canada’s chief city of Montreal. Those who fuelled the boom were huge fans of the Queen and the empire, inspiring many place names within the city (e.g., Queen’s Park, Victoria College), therefore resulting in Toronto referring to itself as Queen City.

Honolulu – Sheltered Bay: Translated back into the Hawaiian language, ‘hono’ means “sheltered or protected” whilst ‘lulu’ means “bay.” Thanks to its literal translation, Honolulu is known as “sheltered bay.”

Boston – Beantown: This nickname refers to the city’s love of the regional dish of Boston baked beans. Not baked beans as many might know them, this dish sees white beans baked on low for hours, in molasses, salt pork, black pepper, and occasionally a little of mustard and onion.

South America

Lima – City of Kings: Founded in 1535, Lima was originally named City of the Kings. The name was chosen to represent the day it was founded, which happened to be the Catholic holiday of Three Kings’ Day.

Ushuaia – The End of the World: This city is not just located at the most southern tip of Argentina, but it is the southernmost city in the entire world, earning it this name.

Medellín – The City of Eternal Spring: Surrounded by mountains and lush greenery, the city of Medellín has earnt its name as ‘the City of Eternal Spring’ thanks to its pleasant and warm weather all year round.

Buenos Aires – The Paris of South America: Buenos Aires has gained this nickname thanks to its striking similarities to Paris, such as their comparable café culture, their multitudes of stunning public parks, numerous renowned museums, and European inspired architecture.


Rabat – The Washington of North America: This capital city is nicknamed the Washington of North Africa because of its wide boulevards, parks, monuments, embassies, and government buildings.

Khartoum – Triangular Capital: This nickname is thanks to the nearby Blue Nile River and the White Nile River that combine into the single Nile River, forming a triangular shape. The Nile River then flows northward into Egypt.

Antananarivo – City of Thousands: The capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, is named the ‘City of Thousands’ in honour of the thousands of soldiers who guarded the city in the seventeenth century at the time of a Malagasy King named Andrianjaka.

Johannesburg – City of Gold: Johannesburg sits on the edge of the world’s largest known gold deposit. Gold was traded here for centuries before the area was first declared open for public digging in 1886.

Maputo – City of Acacias: Maputo is known as the City of Acacias due to many of its streets and avenues commonly being bordered by lush acacia trees.

Kusami – Garden city of West Africa: Thanks to its beautiful green areas, Ghana’s second largest city Kusami earnt the name of ‘Garden City of West Africa’ in which dates to the 1940s.

With lots of history and interesting facts to learn about the cities of the UK (and around the world), and plenty of our hotels to stay in around the UK and Ireland, why not take a staycation and visit some of these amazing cities first-hand? If you want to see the Fair City for yourself, come and stay with us in our one of our Dublin hotels. You can catch up with us in the City of Dreaming Spires by staying in one of our hotels in Oxford. Or explore the City of a Thousand Trades and stay the night in one of hotels in Birmingham.

Post originally appeared:

Our motto is: ‘We stand for the truth, irrespective of who tells it’. Driven by this philosophy, our aim has been to create a platform where every voice, every narrative – provided they are decently expressed –  is allowed expression. Our belief is that by promoting unfettered competition of ideas, the truth will eventually emerge. Obviously, doing this while resisting any temptation to be captured by any special interest or tendency makes survival as an online newspaper more challenging. This is why we will appreciate any support from our readers:

Bank details:

Account Name: The News Chronicle
Bank: UBA
Account No.: 1022603956 (Naira)

Domiciliary Account  – dollar-denominated:
Bank:  UBA
Account Number: 3002835294 ($)

Please email details of your bank transfer to: or send them by WhatsApp to: 07058078841

Professor Jideofor Adibe


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts


What's New?