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The history of the County of Nice


'a tumultuous past, so different from the past common to all other French people, NICE has preserved an original culture and tradition which feeds a strong particularism. These few lines, if they are insufficient to develop it, reveal it a little. They are only an encouragement to find out.


Like all the cities of the Mediterranean basin, NICE has its roots in the Celtic world first, then in Greek colonization, which gives it its name (Nikaïa, around the 6th century BC), and finally in the Roman conquest. After the great Invasions, the city was integrated into the county of Provence. It has been Christianized since the 3rd century, and  the abbey of Saint-Pons , founded in 778, bears witness to this. It belonged to Provence until 1388, when, to escape the Provençal civil war, it gave itself to the Count of Savoy, who had gradually seized all the Western Alps.

Since the early Middle Ages, the city occupied the top of Castle Hill. Then, in the 13th century, it began to descend into the plain. We even build a bridge, of wood first,


on the Paillon: it is the Saint-Antoine bridge, or  Pont-Vieux . Many religious orders contribute to its extension: the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Observantins set up their convents inside and outside the walls.  The Franciscan bell tower  will become, moreover, in 1840, the second communal tower of the city.

In the 16th century, his loyalty to the Duke of Savoy threw NICE into war.  The city was besieged in 1543 by the French and the Turks  allies. The Observantins convent is destroyed. They take refuge on the hill of Cimiez, and create a  new monastery , still served by them.

The city flourished fully in the Baroque age. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was covered with splendid religious and secular buildings, all imbued with this dazzling style. The brotherhoods of penitents are multiplying, new religious orders settle: the Jesuits, in the heart of the city, the Capuchins, in a new rural monastery, on  the hill of Saint-Barmélémy .


will be besieged twice by the French, in 1691 and 1705. On this date, it will lose its citadel and its walls. It was a turning point for her. First, she comes out of her urban corset:  Place Victor in 1790 (today Garibaldi )Place Masséna in 1835 , magnificent royal squares, are the centers of a city

new in constant expansion. Then, she discovered a new vocation: tourism. From 1760, the wealthy winterers came from England, then from Russia - two allies of the Duke of Savoy, who in 1720 became King of Sardinia - to enjoy the sweetness of the Nice climate. They build strange villas, encounters of their past and their dreams, like the “ English castle ”.


Occupied by French troops in 1792, returned to the King of Sardinia in 1814, NICE expresses its attachment to the Savoy for the last time during the visits of King Charles-Félix (1826 and 1828). To Queen Marie-Christine, she offers, among other things ,  a fountain decorated with Tritons, still visible today.


And then, in 1860, despite this long common past, NICE was ceded to France by the Savoys, who chose the crown of Italy. An exceptional city in its new homeland, it brings an economic novelty: its tradition of hospitality, which it further embellishes by rebuilding its modest  theater after the dramatic fire of 1881 , then by importing from England the model of  boardwalks , carried here by the waves of the Baie des Anges. A melting pot of such diverse and multiple influences, NICE has been able to shape them to create its personality. Rooted and open, such is the image of her that each Niçois carries in his heart.

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