Prehistoric period and ancient history

The history of the Beautiful Nice goes back to around 350 BC, when the Greeks founded a settlement on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and called it Nikaia, after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. However, in order to make a proper image of the historical background of Nice, one should also learn the site on which nowadays Nice stretches has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Certain archeological findings prove the place was populated even 400,000 years ago. The traces of a rudimentary prehistoric civilization> have also been discovered, which is explainable by force of the fact the region features wholesome geographical and climatic conditions.

The center of the Roman dominion in the region was the former Cemenelum, the present Cimiez, which back then was a settlement distinct from Nice, but currently part of the city of Nice.

Middle Ages and modernity

For several centuries, Nice swung between the French and the Italian dominion. It was only in 1861 that Nice ultimately became part of France once and for all, but until then, Nice grew as military force under the rule of Provence, of the Counts of Savoy and of Napoleon III. However, during all these centuries, Nice also underwent periods of famine and plague, pillage and destruction owed to either natural calamities or enemies’ attacks.

The Saracens and the Ottomans were the main non-European forces who attempted to enforce their rule in Nice. In fact, one of the most picturesque and anecdotal accounts in relation to the Ottoman episode refers to a story about the salutary “contribution” of a local laundress who displayed her generous and ill-favored behind to the invading forces that, repulsed by the sight, decided to retreat. In honoring the valuable input of the laundress (Catherine Segurane), Nice made her the patron saint of the city.

Contemporary Nice

The French and the Italians were not the only ones who, one way or another, shaped the historical trajectory of Nice. The Englishmen too have left their mark on Nice. Their contribution to the landscape architecture of nowadays Nice is summarized by the famed Promenade des Anglais, built with financial sponsorship from the part of the English aristocracy. Indeed, the rich Englishmen discovered, somewhere around the mid 18th century, that Nice was an ideal winter retreat. They suggested and initiated the construction of the promenade on the former derelict stretch of sand which delineated the seashore. The project was rapidly embraced by the city of Nice.

Until the second half of the 20th century, Nice earned the reputation of an exclusive vacation destination affordable only to the rich. Subsequently to World War Two, however, the tourist profile of Nice changed dramatically, the resort becoming accessible to a miscellaneous flow of visitors, budget travelers included. However, the concessions made in this respect did not affect the high quality standards of the tourist scene of Nice, the city being one of the top-of-the-range vacation destinations at international level.

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