Ever been to Lutetia, Nieuw Nederland or Lundenwic? There’s a good chance you have – they’re three of the best-known cities in the world – but you probably know them by their modern handle. A brief look at the tribes, royalty and countries that inspired these household names.
There’s a great story about London being founded by an exiled Trojan warrior named Brutus, which reads like a lost script from Game of Thrones, but sadly this is a furphy. In fact, it was the boring old Romans who settled the place in 43AD, originally calling it Londinium. Becoming known as a hub for traders and merchants, the city was later renamed Augusta, and then Lundenwic, after some Germanic tribes took over. Conquered by the Norman army in the 11th-century, they started calling it Lundin, Londoun and Londen. Eventually, the spelling was whittled down to the name we know today.
Nickname: The Big Smoke, after the smog that constantly hung over the city in the olden days.
Once upon a time, there was a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii sitting around wondering what to call the place they called home. The city had already been named Lutetia Parisiorum, but that was such a mouthful, so they decided to shorten it to Paris. Legend has it, the name of the Parisii tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word parisio, which means “the craftsmen.” A nice fit for a city that went onto become an epicenter for the arts.
Nickname: The City of Light, after its reputation as a hotbed of ideas in the Age of Enlightenment.
In the long and lazy tradition of naming new world discoveries after their homeland, The Dutch called the whole area of New York “Nieuw Nederland” or New Netherland
In the long and lazy tradition of naming new world discoveries after their homeland, The Dutch called the whole area of New York “Nieuw Nederland” or New Netherland. And they named a spot on the south end of Manhattan Island “Nieuw Amsterdam” or New Amsterdam, after the capital city back home. Not very creative, but then The English followed the trend and changed it to New York, to honor the Duke of York, after they took over the place during the second Anglo-Dutch War. It stuck.
Nickname: The Big Apple, after an author in 1909 wrote that New York was a greedy city and “The Big Apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.”
Image: The city formally known as Nieuw Amsterdam by photographer Mark Asthoff.