Have you ever asked yourselves about the stories hidden behind the nicknames of big capitals and cities like Paris, Moscow, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai, New York and so on and so forth? For example, why is Venice nicknamed as “The Bridge of the Sea” or Philadelphia – “The City of Brotherly Love”? If you wanna get to know the stories of 15+ enormous, world famous and impressive cities, please, continue reading the several paragraphs below.
I shall start with two northern cities, i.e. Moscow and Helsinki. Moscow is known as “The Whitestone” and that name was not given to the Russian capital because of the tons of snow found there but the purpose was to emphasize the architectural splendor of medieval Moscow. Most of the 14th century buildings (including the Kremlin Wall) were built of white stone. Later the edifices were restored and now their colour is reddish. The story of the nickname of Helsinki is very similar, too. The city is situated to the north and there is plenty of snow in winter. But, as a matter of fact, “The White City of the North” comes from the major and most important buildings in the city. They were constructed from local light coloured granite which is the reason why the city looks so white.
Other two cities share stories related to smoke and smog. And they are: London and Vancouver. London’s always got the ill fame of being a smoky city. The Great Smog of 1952 was a really devastating catastrophe which killed more than 4000 people for 5 days (over-polluted and extremely foggy 5 days). Since then, the capital of the UK has got its nickname “The Old Smoke”. Fogs are not a rare phenomenon in Vancouver as well. Just on the opposite, heavy fogs conquer the city too frequently. On top of it, smoke produced by the heavy industries is really in great quantity and that’s why the city is known as “The Big Smoke”.
Now we shall move to two other water and canal cities. For sure, you have already guessed which the first city is. Am I correct? And which is the second one? Of course, it is “Venice of the North”, i.e. Amsterdam. The city houses more than 100 canals and that’s why it’s often compared to La Serenissima. Of course, the original is the original and its canals are the most famous ones in the world. It is as beautiful as a bride and for that reason many call her “The Bride of the Sea”. But not only for this ….. Since the glorious Venetian Republic there has been a tradition of wedding Venice to the Sea in the name of the Lord. It occurred on the Ascension Day when the doge threw his consecrated ring declaring that the citizens of Venice were wedding their city to the sea in the name of their Lord.
Speaking about Venice, we wouldn’t omit its other symbols like gondolas and the Venetian Lion, for example. Lion is also other cities’ symbol. Let us take the example of Singapore. The name Majulah Singapura derives from Malay and means “The Lion City”. The name was given by the 13th century settlers who reached the coast of Singapore and noticed a strange creature that resembled a lion. By the way, the symbol of Singapore is a mythical creature called Merlion that is half lion, half fish and the city possesses five statues (more than 8 metres high and 70 tons in weight each) dedicated to it, spread out in the central zones. Nowadays the “lion” name represents perfectly the role of country in the Asian and global economies – it’s a true economic lion. On the other hand, Hong Kong had a colonial Coat of Arms from 1959 to 1997 and the crest represented a lion holding a pearl (hence its nickname “The Pearl of the Orient”) depicting perfectly the small but precious nature of Hong Kong.
Our next destinations are full of love, dreams, sins and take-it-easy people. Surely, you have heard about the City of Love? By the way, it is impossible for you not to know that Paris is often nicknamed as the “City of Love” because it is home to plenty of emblematic and romantic symbols such as the love-lock-bridge and the Eiffel Tower. (A proposito, the French capital is also known as “The City of Light” because it’s the 1st European city to use electric street lamps and to illuminate its symbols – the Eiffel Tower lights up every night). You can fall in love with Paris but where can you dream? The answer is – in Mumbai. The city is the most populous and the wealthiest one in India. That’s why many people come here on the lookout for a better life, especially in the entertainment industries, in Bollywood in particular. This is their way to make their dreams come true in the “The City of Dreams”. The same is the story of Los Angeles. This is the place where dreams become true in film industry but on a much larger scale. Undoubtedly, this city deserves its nickname, i.e. “The Angels” (the shortcut from its 1781 Spanish name – El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles or The Town of the Queen of Angels).
Speaking about entertainment, we should mention the Mecca of entertainment. Las Vegas (or “The Sin City”) was built around the area where Block 16 had been erected in the early 1900s. That street was really very famous for its activities, type “something-for-the-soul”. Unfortunately, it was demolished after the WWII but its fame has still been kept. If you are open-minded, wouldn’t you want to live in “The Big Easy”. The name was coined by a journalist from New Orleans who wanted to make a comparison between the easier lifestyle in the city and that of New Yorkers. New York gained its nickname – “The Big Apple”, due to Edward S Martin and his book “The Wayfarer of New York” where the city was described as greedy and receiving an unfairly huge share of the national sap.
I shall end the post with three last cities which don’t have so much in common. The first one is Jerusalem (“The Holy City”) which is renowned to be a religious city and centre to Christians, Jews and Muslims owing to its long religious history. ”The City of Violet Crown”. Do you have a guess which the city is? It’s the capital of Hellas – Athens. It gained its nickname thanks to ancient Greek lyric poet Pindar who wrote in his fragments that Athens was: “…. a city of light, with a violet crown …..a city, loved by poets….”. Two Greek words, namely “philos”(love) and “adelphos” (brother), are at the bottom of the name of Philadelphia. The founder of the city chose them because he wanted all of its citizens to live in harmony. This way the town gained its name, i.e. “The City of Brotherly Love”.