Did you know?? 10 International Cities that Changed Their Names

Do you ever wonder how the favorite travel destinations on your bucket list got their names?

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveller.”

― Roman Payne

An ever-increasing bucket list was a common issue that faced all of us during the pandemic. And now that destinations in India and abroad have opened out and visas for international travel are on the fast-track, our dreams have started to take wings again!

The first stop of course for each one of us is — Where do we go? The second stop — How do these destinations that have held our imaginations captive for so long, get their name?

Would Istanbul still be as historically prominent had it been known by any other name? Would Paris be still the city where the World comes to fall in love if it were called anything else?

We take you through an enlightening virtual journey of your favorite International cities that once were known by another name. Read on and be surprised.

1. Toronto (formerly called York)

Toronto is the largest city in Canada by population. Source: Pexels

Toronto is the largest city in Canada by population. It’s the land for a dynamic mix of tourist attractions, from museums and galleries to the world-famous CN Tower. And the cascading Niagara Falls is the inevitable charm.

The city was established by the British in 1793. It was the site of the “Battle of York” that took place in 1812 and the city suffered tremendous damage caused by U.S troops. In 1834, the city was retitled and integrated as the city of Toronto becoming the official capital city of the province of Ontario when it was created in 1867.

2. Melbourne (formerly called Batmania)

Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne. Source- Pexels

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of Victoria. The vibrant city with Royal Botanic Gardens, a serene patch of land to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, the oldest public art gallery and not to miss Federation Square holds the charm of this multicultural destination.

The city holds pathways to many historical conquests. British colonist and Tasmanian farmer, John Batman, arrived in the urban Melbourne area in 1835 to hire the land that would eventually become Melbourne from its native holders, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. This occupation of Wurundjeri land emerged in a colony temporarily named Batmania, before it was declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1837 and officially named ‘Melbourne’.

3. Dhaka (formerly called Jahangirnagar)

Heritage building Ahsan Mazil standing tall amidst the luscious greenery. Source- Trip Advisor

Dhaka held great importance in the pre-Mughal period. It is popular for its rich art and cultural heritage. From Lalbagh Fort to Ahsan Manzil, from Dhakeshwari Temple to the Fantasy Kingdom, the rich architectural history that reflects ancient traditions will surely let you awestruck.

The city got its name when Islam Khan Chishti transferred the capital of Subah Bangalah from Rajmahal to Dhaka in 1610 and retitled it Jahangirnagar after the name of the emperor. The name Jahangirnagar was used in official circles, but to the general public name, Dhaka was well-liked.

4. Istanbul (formerly called Constantinople)

Ortakoy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge at sunrise.Photographer: Givaga/iStockphoto

Istanbul is the most populated city in Turkey. It is transcontinental and is located in the strait that separates Asia and Europe. For all the weary travellers, now is the time to seek pleasure and enjoy the Day Cruise. The city is filled with numerous historic sites and all the creations that are so precisely made –Emirgan Park, Miniaturk, museums etc.

Istanbul was known as Constantinople, meaning the City of Constantine after the Roman empire ruler in 330 CE. There is much folklore narrating the origin of the name, which claims the name Istanbul (i.e City of Islam) originated from the vast population of Muslims living there.

5. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly called Saigon)

Vietnam is known not just for its rich history, vibrant culture, gorgeous landscapes and tourist attractions. Source: Shutterstock

It is the most populous city in Vietnam. The city used to be called Saigon before 2nd July 1976. After Saigon got merged with the neighboring Gia Dinh Province, its name changed. It later became the capital city of South Vietnam, an independent republic from 1955 to 1975, and officially entitled Ho Chi Minh after a deceased communist leader who went by the same name.

6. Paris (formerly called Lutetia)

Breathtaking Glass Palace in front of Louvre Museum. Source: Pexels

The beautiful city of love is always on top finding its name as the most romantic city in the world. Paris has wonderful sights and is home to the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame cathedral, and the Eiffel tower. The city is an inspiration for filmmakers, writers, artists and romantics of course!

Paris was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 BC and existed as a regional center under the Romans and in the early Middle Ages. The Romans called Paris Lutetia. A Celtic tribe called the Parisi built a settlement, that marks the origin of the city of Paris.

7. Tokyo (Formerly called Edo)

The breathtaking view of Tokyo at the backdrop of Mount. Fiji. Source- iStock

“The charm of Tokyo to the visitor is the huge experiment it
presents in the meeting of East and West.
The air is electric with change and new ideas.”

– Zoe Kincaid

The top attractions of Tokyo include museums, diverse festivals; internationally noted cuisine, and professional sports clubs, including baseball, football, and traditional Japanese pursuits like sumo wrestling. Sensoji Temple is a tremendously popular destination for visitors. Hamarikyu Gardens, Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, Tokyo Tower etc adore the beautiful place.

The deposing of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the restoration of Imperial rule in 1868 led to the rapid modernization and Westernization of Japan. Edo had been the administrative center of the Shogun which was renamed Tokyo by the young Emperor Meiji. The city became Japan’s new national and imperial capital.

8. Karachi (formerly called Kolachi)

The newly renovated People’s Square in Karachi, Pakistan. Source- iStock

Karachi is a natural beauty compared to none. It is also an incredible place to catch a glimpse of the colorful Sindhi culture.

The city got renamed in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi-jo-Goth during the rule of the Kalhora dynasty. The new settlement is said to have been named in honour of Mai Kolachi. The name Karachi, a shortened and corrupted version of the original name Kolachi-jo-Goth, was used for the first time in a Dutch report from 1742 about a shipwreck near the settlement.

9. Valenzuela (formerly called Polo)

Home to the pretty treasures, the spirit of Valenzuela will not let you miss your home. Source: Trip 101

Home to the pretty treasures, the spirit of the city will not let you miss your home. Quiapo Church, Manila Bay, Rizal Park, Fort Bonifacio are some of the main tourist attractions.

Valenzuela was named after Pío Valenzuela, a physician and a member of the Katipunan which was a secret society founded against the colonial government of Spain. The city was indigenously known as Polo, initially formed in 1621 after separation from Meycauayan, Bulacan.

10. Singapore (formerly called Temasek)

Singapore was previously known as Temasek. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Singapore was previously known as Temasek. The name changed to Singapura perhaps towards the end of the 14th century. It got renamed in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British Empire. In 1867, the colonies in Southeast Asia wherein Singapore came under the direct control of Britain.

Are you having parallel windows open already to check out your next vacay destination? Oh yes, that happened to us too. These dreamy destinations got us wondering when we will end up going through their bustling by-lanes in the search for our next discovery. So, what are you waiting for? Get packing!!

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