17 Cities That Used to Go By a Different Name

Nice city park by the lake

17 Cities That Used to Go By a Different Name

What are the cities that used to go by a different name? Time has a funny way of changing things, and cities aren’t exempt from this. It might be for political reasons, but the 17 cities featured today have the same geographic location and a completely different name.


Colombia has since transformed the city into a flourishing landscape.

Bogota, located in Colombia, used to go by a different name once upon a time. It is one of the oldest cities in all of Colombia. Before its current name, it previously went by Santa Fe de Bogota. This was at the height of Spain’s colonial rule.


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Many cities in France bear different names that Rome has given them.

Long before the French consolidated power, its cities were named differently. Most of the time this can be attributed to Roman rule, back when the country was made up of several Gallic tribes. Bayonne, located in the Southwest of France, used to be known as Lapurdum.


Mumbai is India’s largest city.

Long before the most populous city in India came under a different name, it was once known as Bombay. These days, the city has gone by many names. However, the current rule has decided on Mumbai as its current name.


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This name change has made every novelty song with a reference to it a bit out of date.

Another city that has gone by several names is current-day Kolkata. Located in Western Bangladesh, it once was known as Calcutta. There have been many changes of hands when it comes to ownership of the region, with Kolkata being closer to the original name given to the city.


Japan’s biggest city wasn’t the capital before the 19th century.

Curiously, the capital of Japan didn’t used to go by Tokyo. Like many cities that have gone by different names, the Feudal Period saw the city known as Edo. Some notable changes in governing led to the country’s capital moving from Kyoto to Tokyo, along with the name change.


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As a seaport, Osaka is still a major source of commerce for Japan.

Osaka has a long history as one of Japan’s most prosperous seaports. Like many cities that have gone by different names, it didn’t start life as Osaka. It was previously known as Naniwa. It is still a flourishing metropolis and home to Japan’s vibrant comedy scene.

Mexico City

different names
Mexico City is built upon the ruins of Aztec civilization in the literal sense.

Long before Mexico City served as the capital of Mexico, it was under different rulers and went by a different name. Tenochtitlan served as the capital of the Aztec Empire. It fell when it came under the rule of Spain, and Mexico City was built upon its ruins. Mexico City is still one of the largest cities in all of Mexico and serves as the capital of the entire country.


Lima’s original name in English is the City of Kings.

Like many cities that have gone by different names, you can blame Spanish colonialism on this one. Lima, the largest city in Peru, was once known as Ciudad de los Reyes. It bears its name from what the local people called the area. Lima serves as the capital of Peru these days and is one of its largest cities.


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The Soviets changed many city names outside of Russia.

The next block of cities all came under the rule of Soviet leadership. As such, many of these historical cities went by new names. Katowice in Poland was once named Stalinogrod, named in honor of Joseph Stalin as you might imagine.


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The former Stalingrad hosts massive monuments to commemorate the sacrifice of its defenders.

Volgograd was once known as Stalingrad and is home to one of the largest battles in human history. These days, the fall of the Soviet Union has led to the city being known as Volgograd. The structures and buildings are still the same, and you’ll find memorials to the Great Patriotic War in its borders.

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is the fourth largest city in all of Europe.

The October Revolution brought many sweeping changes to Russia. One of the most notable was the renaming of Saint Petersburg to Petrograd. Thankfully, the name change didn’t stick for too long.


Aerophotography. View from a flying drone. Panoramic cityscape of Old Town Zurich, Switzerland. top view
Zurich used to be under Roman rule, well before the establishment of Pan-Germanic identity.

For many of the cities that have gone by several names, Roman rule was once the norm. For Switzerland’s capital Zurich, this much is true. It once was known as Turicum.


England’s oldest city used to be part of the Roman empire.

London is one of England’s oldest cities and can directly be attested to Roman rule. Before it came to its modern name, it was one of many cities that went by different names. London was originally founded as Londinium, dating back to the first century CE.


Edinburgh is much more than a fort these days.

Scotland’s capital is also one of many cities that went by different names. It originally is known in the native Gaelic as Din Eidyn, meaning fort on the hill. Edinburgh itself has some military backing, known as Edwin’s Fort.

New York City

America’s financial capital once was under Dutch dominion.

Colonial America saw territories trade hands before settling on the current names. New York City is one of many American cities that went by several names. It originally went by New Amsterdam, reflecting its Dutch ownership.


South Carolina actually draws its name for Carolinus, the Latin version of Charles.

South Carolina’s largest seaport is also one of many cities to go by older names. Thankfully, the change wasn’t a pronounced one. Charleston once was known as Charles Town.

Ho Chi Minh City

The former Saigon is a thoroughly modern city these days.

The Vietnam War saw sweeping changes in the embattled country. In the wake of the North Vietnamese victory, it saw many cities go by several names. Ho Chi Minh City is originally known as Saigon and was the capital of the South Vietnamese government during the war.

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