Which city’s name translates to “city of angels”?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

"City of Angels" in different languages

The phrase "City of Angels" is a common reference used to denote a particular city’s name. However, the term is not limited to the English language alone. In fact, many cities from around the world go by the same name, each with a unique story and history behind its naming. From Los Angeles to Bangkok, the label "City of Angels" is a symbolic reference to the spiritual beings that have been revered for centuries.

The origin of the name "City of Angels"

The term "City of Angels" is derived from the Greek word "angelos," which translates to "messenger" or "angel." Angels have been depicted as divine beings that served as messengers between God and humans. With this in mind, it is not surprising that many cities have been named after these celestial beings. The concept of angels is present in various religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. As such, the influence of religion on naming cities cannot be ignored.

The story behind the naming of Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the largest city in California, is perhaps the most famous "City of Angels." The name "Los Angeles" is a Spanish translation of "The Angels," which is believed to have been given by a group of Spanish explorers who arrived in the area in 1542. According to legend, the explorers saw a river running through the region and named it "El Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula," which translates to "The River of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of Porciúncula." The name was later shortened to "Los Angeles," and over time, the city grew around the river, taking on the name of the heavenly beings that were believed to be watching over it.

Comparison with other cities with similar names

Bangkok: the second most famous "City of Angels"

While Los Angeles is undoubtedly the most famous "City of Angels," Bangkok is a close second. The capital city of Thailand is often referred to as the "City of Angels" due to its rich cultural history and spiritual significance. The name "Bangkok" is derived from the Thai words "Bang" and "Kok," meaning "village of wild plums," but the city’s nickname dates back to the 18th century and has a more mystical connotation.

How Bangkok earned its nickname

The nickname "City of Angels" was given to Bangkok by King Taksin in 1768. After successfully liberating the city from Burmese occupation, the king is said to have walked through the city and noticed the many temples and shrines that dotted the landscape. Impressed by the spiritual atmosphere of the city, he reportedly exclaimed, "This is the place of angels, the city of angels." The name stuck, and today, Bangkok is known as one of the most vibrant and culturally rich cities in Southeast Asia.

Other cities with the name "Angels" in their names

Apart from Los Angeles and Bangkok, several other cities around the world also bear the label "City of Angels." Some of these include:

  • Angelholm, Sweden: A small town in southern Sweden named after a local castle that was destroyed in the 16th century.
  • Angel Fire, New Mexico: A ski resort town in northern New Mexico named after a local mountain that was said to resemble an angel’s wings.
  • Engelberg, Switzerland: A picturesque town in central Switzerland named after a Benedictine monastery that was established in the 12th century.

The significance of angels in different cultures

There is no denying the significance of angels in different cultures and religions. In Christianity, angels are believed to be messengers and protectors, while in Islam, they are seen as intermediaries between God and humans. In Judaism, angels are associated with the divine presence and are often portrayed as warriors or guardians. In Zoroastrianism, angels are referred to as "Amesha Spentas" and are believed to represent different aspects of divinity.

The influence of religion on naming cities

Religion has played a significant role in the naming of cities, with many cities around the world bearing names that have religious connotations. From Jerusalem to Mecca, the influence of religion on urban nomenclature cannot be ignored. The naming of cities after celestial beings such as angels is just one example of how religion has influenced the way we name and perceive our urban environments.

Names with religious connotations in Los Angeles

The influence of religion on naming cities is particularly evident in Los Angeles. The city has several neighborhoods and streets that bear names with religious connotations, such as Echo Park, Mount Carmel, and Saint Andrews. Additionally, the iconic Hollywood sign, which overlooks the city, originally read "Hollywoodland" and was built as a real estate advertisement in 1923. The sign was later shortened to "Hollywood" but still serves as a symbol of the city’s glamour and allure.

Conclusion: Which city can truly be called the "City of Angels"?

While several cities around the world bear the label "City of Angels," it is clear that Los Angeles and Bangkok are the two most famous. Both cities have unique histories and cultural significance that have earned them the moniker. However, the significance of angels in different cultures and religions means that the label "City of Angels" has a broader meaning that transcends any one city.

Final thoughts: The beauty and meaning behind city names.

The names of cities are often steeped in history and symbolism. From the "City of Angels" to the "City of Lights," the labels we give our urban environments reflect our values and aspirations. Understanding the stories behind these names can help us appreciate the beauty and meaning of our cities. As such, the next time you visit a new place, take a moment to learn about its history and the significance behind its name. You may just discover a new appreciation for the city and its people.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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