City Names in Spanish

Well-known cities' names not always predictable in other languages

La Habana, Cuba
La Habana, Cuba. (Havana, Cuba.). Photo by Alexander Bonilla used under terms of Creative Commons license.

It's obvious why the American city of Philadelphia is spelled Filadelfia in Spanish: the spelling change helps make certain that the city's name is pronounced correctly. Less obvious is why the British capital of London is Londres to Spaniards or, for that matter, why Americans think of the German city of München as Munich.

In any case, numerous major and noteworthy cities worldwide are known by different names in Spanish than in English. With the Spanish names in boldface, here are some of the most common ones:

Addis Ababa — Addis Abeba
Adelaide — Adelaida
Alexandria — Alejandría
Algiers — Argel
Athens — Atenas
Baghdad — Bagdad
Beijing — Pekín
Belgrade — Belgrado
Berlin — Berlín
Berne — Berna
Bethlehem — Belén
Bogota — Bogotá
Bucharest — Bucarest
Cairo — El Cairo
Calcutta — Calcuta
Cape Town — Ciudad del Cabo
Copenhagen — Copenhague
Damascus — Damasco
Dublin — Dublín
Geneva — Ginebra
Havana — La Habana
Istanbul — Estambul
Jakarta — Djakarta
Jerusalem — Jerusalén
Johannesburg — Johanesburgo
Lisbon — Lisboa
London — Londres
Los Angeles — Los Ángeles
Luxembourg — Luxemburgo
Mecca — La Meca
Moscow — Moscú
New Delhi — Nueva Delhi
New Orleans — Nueva Orleans
New York — Nueva York
Paris — París
Philadelphia — Filadelfia
Pittsburgh — Pittsburgo
Prague — Praga
Reykjavik — Reikiavik
Roma — Roma
Seoul — Seúl
Stockholm — Estocolmo
The Hague — La Haya
Tokyo — Tokio
Tunis — Túnez
Vienna — Viena
Warsaw — Varsovia

This list shouldn't be viewed as inclusive. Not included are cities that use "City" in their English names, such as Panama City and Mexico City, which are usually referred to as Panamá and México in their respective countries. Note also that practices vary among Spanish writers in placing accented vowels within foreign names. For example, the U.S. capital is sometimes written as Wáshington, but the unaccented version is more common.

Spellings in this list are those that appear to be the most commonly used. However, some publications may use alternate spellings of some names.