Biggest European Cities by Century

Name the most populous cities in Europe for each century-ending year, 1000 to 1900 AD.
Source: Three Thousand Years of Urban Growth by Tertius Chandler
Quiz by relessness
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Last updated: December 21, 2019
First submittedApril 20, 2015
Times taken62,400
Rating4.96
5:00
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 / 38 guessed
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1900
6,480,000
London
3,330,000
Paris
2,707,000
Berlin
1,662,000
Vienna
1,439,000
St. Petersburg
1,255,000
Manchester
1,248,000
Birmingham
1,120,000
Moscow
1,072,000
Glasgow
940,000
Liverpool
 
 
1500
225,000
Paris
200,000
Constantinople
125,000
Adrianople
125,000
Naples
115,000
Venice
104,000
Milan
90,000
Bruges
80,000
Lyon
80,000
Ghent
75,000
Rouen
 
 
1100
300,000
Constantinople
125,000
Seville
90,000
Palermo
60,000
Córdoba
60,000
Granada
55,000
Venice
50,000
Kiev
50,000
Salerno
45,000
Milan
40,000
Thessaloniki
1800
861,000
London
570,000
Constantinople
547,000
Paris
430,000
Naples
238,000
Moscow
237,000
Lisbon
231,000
Vienna
220,000
St. Petersburg
195,000
Amsterdam
172,000
Berlin
 
 
1400
275,000
Paris
125,000
Milan
125,000
Bruges
110,000
Venice
100,000
Genoa
100,000
Granada
95,000
Prague
85,000
Caffa
75,000
Constantinople
70,000
Ghent
 
 
1000
450,000
Córdoba
450,000
Constantinople
90,000
Seville
75,000
Palermo
45,000
Kiev
45,000
Venice
40,000
Thessaloniki
40,000
Regensburg
40,000
Ohrid
35,000
Amalfi
1700
700,000
Constantinople
550,000
London
530,000
Paris
207,000
Naples
188,000
Lisbon
172,000
Amsterdam
149,000
Rome
143,000
Venice
130,000
Moscow
124,000
Milan
 
 
1300
228,000
Paris
150,000
Granada
150,000
Constantinople
110,000
Venice
100,000
Milan
100,000
Genoa
100,000
Sarai
90,000
Seville
60,000
Florence
54,000
Cologne
1600
700,000
Constantinople
275,000
Naples
250,000
Paris
187,000
London
160,000
Adrianople
151,000
Venice
144,000
Seville
119,000
Milan
110,000
Granada
110,000
Lisbon
 
 
1200
250,000
Constantinople
150,000
Palermo
150,000
Seville
110,000
Paris
70,000
Venice
60,000
Milan
60,000
Córdoba
60,000
Granada
50,000
Cologne
40,000
London
+18
Level ∞
Jan 31, 2018
This quiz has been majorly revamped to use a better source. The Wikipedia article is misleading so I went back and found the original source. Unfortunately, this makes the quiz a lot harder. Only true history geeks will get more than half!
+32
Level 82
Feb 2, 2018
That's not unfortunate. It gets boring when every quiz recycles the same few thousand answers over and over and over again for fear of stumping anyone.
+4
Level 39
Feb 2, 2018
Wow, its the amazing kalbahamut (this is not a sarcastic comment)!
+1
Level 62
May 15, 2018
Yes it is.
+1
Level 82
May 15, 2018
here you go, djee
+7
Level 75
Feb 20, 2018
I got over half but I'm hardly a true history geek.
+1
Level 78
May 13, 2018
+1
+3
Level 55
May 12, 2018
A lot harder but also much more interesting.

Was Sarai actually a city as opposed to a 'camp'?

+1
Level 25
Dec 24, 2020
got 24 should have got Thessaloniki cologne Glasgow scent and palemero the rest I had no clue
+1
Level 61
May 6, 2021
Great quiz! Got 31
+15
Level ∞
Jan 31, 2018
Also, notice the difference between 1800 and 1900. The effects of the Industrial Revolution were huge!
+48
Level 81
Feb 1, 2018
I can't be the only one surprised to get Sarai. I was guessing Sarajevo.
+3
Level 74
Feb 1, 2018
I did the same!
+6
Level 71
Feb 1, 2018
I always find that no matter how boneheaded or bizarre I think a guess I made was, I can always count on finding someone else in the comments section who did the exact same thing. It gives me warm and fuzzy feelings. :-)
+1
Level 68
Feb 1, 2018
Same here
+1
Level 62
May 12, 2018
Yep, did that too
+1
Level 47
May 18, 2018
ikr i was confused
+1
Level 52
May 18, 2020
Me too.
+1
Level 67
Feb 18, 2021
Yep, same here :)
+2
Level 75
Feb 1, 2018
I can't believe Caffa and Ohrid and Amalfi are all scoring more than zero.
+4
Level 74
Feb 1, 2018
I got Amalfi because I tried the 4 italian 'sea republics' we studied at school! (Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice)
+1
Level 47
May 18, 2018
ive never heard of amalfi. i guessed genoa, venice, palermo, and naples, because i know they are big cities in italy.
+1
Level 55
Apr 13, 2021
not to mention rome and milan?
+1
Level 61
May 6, 2021
Caffa was a big deal. Guessed it from the plague.
+1
Level 44
Feb 1, 2018
I wrote "stpetersburg" "stpetersburgh" "stpeterburg" "stpetersbourg" and none was accepted, btw the fist one is the correct spelling
+1
Level 37
Feb 1, 2018
use a space after st
+11
Level ∞
Feb 1, 2018
Spacing, capitalization, and punctuation never matter on JetPunk. I pasted "stpetersburg" directly from your comment and it was accepted,.
+1
Level 42
Feb 1, 2018
I liked it! :)
+2
Level 74
Feb 1, 2018
Nice revamp, Quizmaster.
+1
Level 71
Feb 1, 2018
Indeed; kudos, Quizzymakerdudeguysupremo and/or relessness! Crazy hard at first blush, but a great doorway to learning some new things, which is why we (at least most of us!) are here!
+2
Level 76
Feb 1, 2018
What happened between 1000 and 1100 that caused Córdoba and Constantinople to lose so many people?
+7
Level 79
Feb 1, 2018
Have a look at their history on Wikipedia for example:

In 1002 Al-Mansur was returning to Córdoba from an expedition in the area of Rioja when he died. His death was the beginning of the end of Córdoba. The caliphate disintegrated during a civil war (the Fitna of al-Andalus) between the descendants of the last caliph, Hisham II, and the successors of his hayib (court official), Al-Mansur. In 1031, after years of infighting, the caliphate fractured into a number of independent Muslim taifa (kingdoms). After 1031, Córdoba lost its prosperity and fame and became an isolated city. The "ruling elite" were well known for their "disinterest in the outside world ... and intellectual laziness. (BTW, Destiny is an excellent Egyptian movie about the times of Al-Mansur.)

+1
Level 79
Feb 1, 2018
Constantinople is less simple, basically the numbers every 100 years don't tell the whole story:

In response, the Turks began to move into Anatolia in 1073. The collapse of the old defensive system meant that they met no opposition, and the empire's resources were distracted and squandered in a series of civil wars. Thousands of Turkoman tribesmen crossed the unguarded frontier and moved into Anatolia. By 1080, a huge area had been lost to the Empire, and the Turks were within striking distance of Constantinople.

OTOH:

Under the Comnenian dynasty (1081–1185), Byzantium staged a remarkable recovery. With the restoration of firm central government, the empire became fabulously wealthy. The population was rising (estimates for Constantinople in the 12th century vary from some 100,000 to 500,000). Toward the end of Manuel I Komnenos's reign, the number of foreigners in the city reached about 60,000–80,000 people out of a total population of about 400,000 people.

+1
Level 79
Feb 1, 2018
...then continued:

In 1182, all Latin (Western European) inhabitants of Constantinople were massacred. On 25 July 1197, Constantinople was struck by a severe fire which burned the Latin Quarter and the area around the Gate of the Droungarios (Turkish: Odun Kapısı) on the Golden Horn.

etc etc. Better read the long and fascinating history of the city yourself!

+4
Level 68
Feb 1, 2018
And now those last 6 cities are on my wikipedia history. I love quizzes like this.
+1
Level 66
Feb 1, 2018
Nice to know I'm not the only one!
+3
Level 82
Feb 3, 2018
Why was the year 2000 left out of the quiz?
+4
Level 82
May 12, 2018
Because the 20th century was when Europe ceased being relevant?

(kidding.. put down your torches and croissants.) I'm guessing that the source only goes through 1900. Though I'm wondering with a title like "3000 years of urban growth" why it doesn't extend back to 900 BC. Maybe QM thought it would be too difficult.

+1
Level 82
May 12, 2018
Were there any cities in Europe in 900 BC? Wiki says the ancient Greek city states began to emerge around 800 BC. Can't think of what else there could have been in Europe at that time worthy of being called a "city," though someone can feel free to correct me; I'm certainly not an expert with that time period.
+1
Level 55
May 12, 2018
I think that perhaps 900BC would be difficult, but it would be fun to go back to perhaps 0AD
+3
Level 82
May 12, 2018
Sure there were. Mostly around the Balkans, where there were many (Athens, Argos, Plovdiv maybe, Lefkandi, Knossos, Kydonia, Thebes), though Larnaca and Nicosia in Cyprus both date to the 2nd millennium BC (going to ignore that the site puts Cyprus in Asia for a second), Lisbon dates to 1200 BC, Cadiz is Spain was settled by Phoenicians in 1100 BC, and there were other cities and settlements here and there. Rome also dates back to at least the 8th century BC and probably much earlier in the form of many unconnected settlements, but didn't really agglomerate into a proper city until the 700s (BC). The biggest problem with guessing the sizes of cities 3000 years ago is that prior to the Romans there weren't many good record keepers.
+3
Level 63
May 12, 2018
Should 'Salonica' be accepted for Thessaloniki?
+2
Level 55
May 12, 2018
No - but maybe Salonika
+2
Level 61
Mar 12, 2020
Please accept Salonika. I tried that and then didn't try Thessaloniki after it didn't work.
+2
Level 77
May 12, 2018
Great quiz. Regensburg and Ohrid are seriously obscure – I’m not sure I’ve seen any answer score that low.
+2
Level 84
Apr 17, 2020
I've heard of Ohrid before thanks to playing Civilization V, but I didn't guess it.
+1
Level 56
May 7, 2021
Ditto, not used to thinking that far back. Just happy to get most of the Italian and Low country cities, ie Ghent, Bruges, Florence
+1
Level 45
May 15, 2018
Scoring

You scored 20/38 = 53%.

This beats or equals 62.3% of test takers

The average score is 18

Your high score is 20

not sure if it is good or bad but this quiz I really enjoyed.

+1
Level 75
May 29, 2018
How is Athens not in any of these lists. I thought it's been a big city since antiquity.
+2
Level 79
Dec 10, 2018
I think the biggest problem seems to be reliable data. Though there are reports that Athens was bigger than Thessaloniki around 500 BC, (at least on wikipedia) there are no numbers for the first centuries after 1000AD
+3
Level ∞
Feb 25, 2021
That's not true. The data is fine. For a long time, Athens was simply an irrelevant backwater. In 1833, Athens had a population of 4000 people. That's not a typo. The city was virtually abandoned.
+2
Level 82
Dec 26, 2018
It's been a city since antiquity but after being conquered by the Romans it became a pretty insignificant (at times almost totally deserted) backwater straight up until very recently. Becoming the capital of the new nation-state of Greece put it back on the map, but, for example, in 1833, the year after Greek independence, the population of Athens was only 4,000 people according to Wikipedia. Barely bigger than the one-stoplight village in rural Illinois one of my exes grew up in.
+3
Level 82
Dec 26, 2018
The last time that Athens could have been considered a major city was maybe 396 AD when it was sacked by Alaric the Visigoth, if not much earlier (the Macedonian conquest of Athens was 338 BC). Anyway, definitely long before 1000 AD. Europe has a long history.
+1
Level 41
Jul 31, 2021
^ This. Corinth, Nauplia, Thessalonica, Ioannina and other cities had become far more important and populous than Athens under Byzantine, Crusader and Ottoman rule.
+2
Level 70
Aug 4, 2018
Bit surprised Antwerp is missing... apparently their golden age started only after 1500, and ended before 1600.
+3
Level 72
Sep 17, 2018
should accept Salonika for Thessaloniki too
+1
Level 40
Dec 26, 2018
where is Salerno located?

Thanks

+4
Level 90
May 20, 2019
Right here.
+3
Level 71
Apr 17, 2020
This is my favorite comment.
+1
Level 52
May 3, 2020
What about 2000 though
+1
Level 51
May 19, 2020
I was very surprised that Rome only makes 1 entry in the list. I would have expected it to be top ten a few more times, but anyway, I'm not disputing the data !
+1
Level 56
Mar 10, 2021
Rome's peak was 1000 years earlier than the beginning of this quiz
+1
Level 67
Feb 18, 2021
Constantinople is fun to watch! Goes from being consistently being the largest city in Europe (and possibly the world) at the beginning of the millennium, to slipping down to 9th in Europe with just 75,000 people... then the Ottomans take over and in 100 years the population increases more than threefold! Perhaps most amazing, however, is how it goes from second place to not being on the list in just 100 years, thanks to the Industrial Revolution putting a bunch of British cities on here.
+1
Level 55
Mar 10, 2021
This could use a bit more time, but fun quiz :)
+1
Level 81
May 6, 2021
Where was Sarai in relation to present-day Volgograd?
+1
Level 62
May 6, 2021
How did Istanbul disappear after 1800?
+1
Level 82
May 6, 2021
The Industrial Revolution. Started in Great Britain. Spread to Belgium, Germany, France, and the United States. Then slowly across Europe and other places around the world. The Ottomans wouldn't start industrialization until about 100 years after the British. They got left behind for a while. Istanbul's population would start to go vertical after about 1950.
+1
Level 67
May 6, 2021
I was also curious about this (as you can see based on my comment above), so I looked it up on Wikipedia and it says that Istanbul's population in 1900 was about 943,000, which theoretically would put it in the 10th spot on this list. The source used for the quiz probably differs slightly (even Wikipedia admits that their figures may be off), but I'm guessing Istanbul would be 11th or 12th place in 1900.
+1
Level 90
May 6, 2021
I thought about the Andalusian cities in the last minute which helped, but I guessed Düsseldorf rather than Köln and abandoned the Ruhr after that. I did get Sarai while going for Sarajevo and ended up with 28/38.
+1
Level 43
May 6, 2021
accept stalingrad for st petersburg?
+1
Level 38
May 6, 2021
Stalingrad was too late
+1
Level 38
May 6, 2021
Same reason why Leningrad isn't
+4
Level 43
May 6, 2021
i think you are thinking about leningrad, stalingrad is the former name for volgograd
+1
Level 59
May 7, 2021
St petersburg was called leningrad
+1
Level 43
May 6, 2021
i didn't get milan but i got seville lol
+1
Level 55
May 8, 2021
Damn London really exploded in the 19th century
+1
Level 51
May 10, 2021
24% of people correctly guessed "Sarai"? WTF.
+2
Level 55
Jun 14, 2021
That 1800 to 1900 jump is absolutely bonkers. The Industrial Revolution put into perspective.