European City Names and why Köln is Cologne

Many cities in Europe are spelt differently in English to how they are actually spelt. For example Firenze in Italian is Florence in English.

First time visitors to Europe may not be aware of different spellings for city names. Some name changes are obvious enough as only a small change is made. Roma becomes Rome for example, or an umlaut or accent is dropped, so Zürich becomes Zurich.

Some aren’t so obvious though. You might be Eurailing through Germany on your way to Cologne, not realising that you should have got off at Köln (which can also be written as koeln). In this case where the umlaut is dropped the name is respelled to represent to its phonetic spelling.

Cologne Station

It is not just English that changes names to suit. Most languages will spell a city in their own way to make it sound phonetically correct to them. For example London can be spelt around Europe as:

Londen (Dutch)
Londra (Albanian, Italian, Maltese, Romanian, Romansh, Turkish)
Londres (Catalan, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Ladino)
Londona (Latvian)
Londonas (Lithuanian)
Londyn (Polish)
Londýn (Czech, Slovak)
Lontoo (Finnish)
Lundúnir (Icelandic)

Here is a list of some European cities in the original and English spelling.

Antwerpen
Baile Ath Cliath
Bâle
Béal Feirste
Beograd
Bruxelles
Bucuresti
Caerdydd
Casnewydd
Den Haag
Dunkerque
Firenze
Genève
Genova
Göteborg
Ieper
København
Köln
Lisboa
Luzern
Milano
München
Napoli
Nürnberg
Oporto
Oświeçim
Plzen
Praha
Roma
Sevilla
Torino
Venezia
Warszawa
Wien
Zürich
Antwerp
Dublin
Basel
Belfast
Belgrade
Brussels
Bucharest
Cardiff
Newport
The Hague
Dunkirk
Florence
Geneva
Genoa
Gothenburg
Ypres
Copenhagen
Cologne
Lisbon
Lucerne
Milan
Munich
Naples
Nuremberg
Porto
Auschwitz
Pilsen
Prague
Rome
Seville
Turin
Venice
Warsaw
Vienna
Zurich

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