Nice: History

Nice History

Since prehistoric times, people have inhabited Nice but it was not until the 4th century BCE when the Greeks won a memorable victory over the Barbarians that the colony Nikaïa, which literally means "giver of victory" emerged. Nice soon became an important commercial trading post.

With the demise of the Roman Empire in the 6th century, Nice became part of the French empire due to its successful maritime commerce. The Romans' prescence is still visible today, however, througout the city (Cimiez Archeological Museum).

Nice's commercial activity in its lower town continued to grow until 1176 and by the 14th century it was the third largest town in Provence. It was also during this time that the townspeople sought the right for self-determination and chose to fall under the rule of Savoy Counts (Kingdom of Sardinia). 1543 saw a succesful defense again the Turks and by the 17th century the town was flourishing. Baroque art and architecture blossomed giving the houses unique green and blue hues, with red, yelow and burnt sienna facades.

The end of the 17th century saw Nice, however, destroyed by the French army twice in 1691 and 1705. Between the French Revolution and the Empire (1792-1814), the Alpes-Maritimes region was created and annexed to France. Nice fell under French rule with the assent of its people.

With the defeat of Napoleon, Nice again came under the sway of Sardinia, but the language and culture distanced it further and further from Italy. On March 24, 1860, Napoleon III and Victor-Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia, agreed that Nice would be handed over once and for all to France. After this agreement Nice became a boom town with roads and railways being built; the population also sharply increased.

Nice soon became known as a winter tourist destination; the British aristocracy and other Europeans began to flock which meant by the end of the 19th century up until WWI Nice embodied the vacation hotspot for the rich and famous. After WWII, Nice succumbed to mass tourism and is today a much loved holiday location.