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11 Fascinating City Nicknames That May Surprise You

We all know New York is the Big Apple, Paris the City of Love and Light, and that Vegas is Sin City (you know, “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”), but if you do some research you will find out that almost every major city in the world has its own nickname. Some happen to be particularly popular thanks to pop culture while others are relatively unknown. Here’s a list of 11 city nicknames that you may not have heard of or if you have, you probably don’t remember.
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Written by Theodoros II

PETRA – THE ROSE RED CITY

Petra is a historical and archaeological city in Jordan and particularly known for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. In case you didn’t know, Petra is called “the Rose Red City” because of the color of the stone out of which it is carved.

FLORENCE – THE CITY OF LILIES

Florence is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance as most of you probably know and one of the most significant European cities of the past few hundred years when it comes to the arts and architecture. They also call it “the City of Lilies,” and since the eleventh century its emblem has been a red lily on a white field, which is called the “fleur de lis flowered.” 

TORONTO – MUDDY YORK

After doing a little research we discovered that Toronto has quite a few nicknames but “Muddy York” is by far the most representative and probably the oldest of this big Canadian city. It was used during the settlement’s early growth because at the time there were no sewers or storm drains, and the streets were unpaved. During rainfall, water would accumulate on the dirt roads, transforming them into often impassable muddy avenues.

MOSCOW – THE WHITESTONE

Throughout history the great Russian capital has earned a variety of nicknames, most referring to its preeminent status in the nation: “The Whitestone” is probably the most popular and refers to the white walls of the Kremlin; also “the First Throne,” which refers to the rule under the czars; “Third Rome” (after Rome itself and Constantinople); and “the Forty Forties,” which refers to the number of churches in the city with a golden dome on each one. 

SINGAPORE – THE LION CITY

The lion is significant as Singapore’s name is derived from the old Sanskrit term simha or singha, meaning “lion.” As a result of this, the Lion Head symbol was launched in 1986 as an alternative national symbol. It is solid red against a white background—the colors of the national flag. The lion symbolizes courage, strength, and excellence, while the five partings of the lion’s mane represents Singapore’s five ideals.

USHUAIA – THE END OF THE WORLD

The capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world with its large population of 71,000, its infrastructure, and its accepted classification as a city. Hope you’re not still wondering why its nickname is “the End of the World.” 

HELSINKI – THE WHITE CITY OF THE NORTH

The capital of Finland is often called “the White City of the North” because many of its buildings are constructed of a light-colored granite that you can find only in Helsinki. Not to sound too pessimistic but with all the illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East in Europe, especially in countries like Sweden and Finland, there might not be “white” cities at all in the near future. 

ATHENS – THE CITY OF THE VIOLET CROWN

I could bet ya right now that if you asked one hundred Greeks or even Athenians for that matter, at least ninety of them wouldn’t even know their famous city is called “the City of the Violet Crown.” This nickname dates back to antiquity, and we can find it in one of Pindar’s surviving fragments (number 64), where the poet wrote of Athens:

“City of light, with thy violet crown, beloved of the poets, thou art the bulwark of Greece.”

WASHINGTON, DC – HOLLYWOOD FOR UGLY PEOPLE

How could we not include such a nickname in a list that will be published on a site like TCmag, right? Apparently, its first print mention came from strategist Paul Begala, who claimed that he heard it in an Austin bar while studying at the University of Texas.  

TEL AVIV – THE CITY THAT NEVER STOPS

Ummm, not to sound sarcastic now but Tel Aviv is the city that never stops doing what? Bombing Palestinian schools, hospitals, and homes? On a serious note, though, Tel Aviv got this nickname according to locals because so many people come from all over Israel and the world to enjoy what Tel Aviv has to offer. 

GOTHAM CITY…. PERIOD

I know what most of you are probably thinking right now: Gotham City is fictional and not a nickname. So what? We like the story of how it got its name so we decided to include it. One nice sunny day, writer Bill Finger decided to name Batman’s hometown Gotham City after he wasn’t happy with a series of names such as “Civic City,” “Capital City,” and “Coast City.”

 Then, frustrated with all the names he had come up with, he decided to flip through the New York City phone book and spotted the name Gotham Jewelers. That, my precious readers, is how the most famous city in the history of comics (yes Superman, even more famous than Metropolis) got its name and came to life.

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