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History

History (1A)

The history of this city begins a long, long time ago. And the region where Nice is located was inhabited 400,000 years ago.

It is in Terra Amata where archaeological remains discovered testify to this: human bones, arrowheads and other tools. Supposedly, back then the sea level was significantly higher and the current Castle Hill must have been an island where prehistoric hunters decided to settle. Even more remains of their descendants have been found at the foot of Mont-Boron, in the Lazaret cave, dating back 160,000 years. 

About 2,000 years ago, the Focenses, a Greek people from the coast of modern Turkey, founded Nikaïa in honour of the victory against the Ligurian, a protohistoric people who lived in what is now the current French Riviera and Northern Italy. Clearly, the name of the city comes from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, as having conquered this city it earned them a strategic enclave in the western Mediterranean.

Three centuries later, the Romans settled here and built a large city with an amphitheatre, forum and even baths. They called it Cemenelum. The ruins of this city can be found in Cimiez, a neighbourhood of Nice.

From here, Old Nice began a period of great expansion, which unfortunately brought Barbarian, Ligurian and Saracen invasions, which meant it was not allowed to develop as it could have. In fact, it was even burned by the Saracens in the late 9th century. 

In the Middle Ages, in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Counts of Provence seized the ancient Greek city and, in 1388, they came under the suzerainty of the House of Savoy. And so they remained until 1860, except for two interruptions: from 1691 to 1731 they belonged to Louis XIV and from 1792 to 1814 they were annexed to the Republic and then the Empire.

But in 1860 the people of Nice elected by vote for its annexation to France by the Treaty of Turin, signed by Napoleon III and King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia.

Thereafter, it was a small town which began to grow and grow. So, in a few years, thanks to its good communication by rail, it became a fashionable summer resort. The richest people in Europe used to come here. From England and Russia. They all came to enjoy its pleasant climate and its views of the Mediterranean. And all these wealthy people encouraged great development for the city. In fact, in the streets of Nice you can find Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic churches, belle-époque buildings by the most prestigious authors and even an observatory on the summit of Mont Gros built by the famous Charles Garnier, whose dome was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.

So today, Nice is a major tourist destination. With just under 400,000 inhabitants, it is the French city that houses the most museums and hotels after Paris, and its port is the most important in France. 

Moreover, it is a city that will surprise you with something new whenever you visit. In February you can enjoy its famous Carnival and flowers battles, known worldwide. In May, Nice attracts roller skaters from around the world while Cimiez offers good music during the Fete des Mai. Soon after, in July, the jazz arrives: a festival held since 1948. And the greats have played here: from Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie to Diana Krall. And to round off the year in December do not miss its craft markets, its attractions and its ice rink.

As you can see, the elegant yet worldly Nice has much to offer so many tourists and has become the true heart of the Riviera. 

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