Nice Citadel at the end of the XNUMXth century
Nice is paradise; the sun, like butter, falls on everything; moths, flies in huge numbers, and summer air. The calm is perfect. Life is cheaper than anywhere else. I keep working ... the creation of Dead Souls is about to happen ...
Castles and fortresses. We know Nice as a center of international tourism in the south of France. We know Nice as the “Russian city”, where Herzen lived and buried, where Dostoevsky and Chekhov played in the casino, where Lenin lived (well, how could he not have visited all Russian celebrities in this city!), That is, this city, in fact affairs, with our, Russian history. But besides all this, this city was also an important fortress, which was repeatedly subjected to sieges and assaults. And just about the Nice fortress we will tell you today, as well as about what it has become today.
Nice. View from the sea to the beach and Promenade des Anglais
Throughout the Mediterranean, steep hills were used as housing. Therefore, it is not surprising that in ancient times the Ligurian peoples on the Riviera built their settlements on them and fortified them with walls. That Castle Hill, 92 meters high in the area of modern Nice, attracted their attention and was populated at least in the X century BC. During the III century, they established trade contacts with the Greeks in Marseille. And the Greeks gave this place the name Nicaea, which means "winner." This heroic name was reported by many ancient authors, and therefore it reached us.
A beach on which boats could be moored, a river, a nearby rocky hill, plains suitable for farming, all this was suitable for the Greeks to settle here, as they, for example, did in Syracuse. Their colony Nicaea may have been founded at the foot of the hill, while on its crest residents sought refuge. Especially enemy attacks had to be feared with the fall of the Roman Empire, when the plain became especially dangerous.
The promenade with palm trees and the beach, as we have in Adler or Gurzuf. Solid round cobblestones with which the waves hit the legs. I don’t know what good people find in such beaches ...
All that remains of this abandoned city are fragments of ancient walls and foundations. However, archaeological excavations, begun in 2009, may one day lead to a complete reconstruction of this settlement on Castle Hill, since the area around it is all built up, and there are very few hopes to discover what lies under the foundations of the buildings standing here.
Facades of beautiful buildings overlook the embankment, the cost of apartments in which is just off scale
To begin with, the XNUMXth century witnessed the construction of the so-called Castra on the Castle Hill (a “fortified place” in the lane from Latin). The city wall was designed to cover all its bends at a height of fifty meters, thereby protecting its largest area. Within these walls, a city began to flourish with several thousand inhabitants, with churches, monasteries, a market, a hospital and palaces of nobility. And until the XII century, the whole city of Nice was concentrated on this hill.
Casino Royale". The most famous place in the city ...
But the city grew and already in the XIII century its structures spilled out of the city walls. For Nice, this was a period of relative peace, economic growth and an influx of very different people. Gradually, he captured the western slopes of the hill and spread to a plain in the area of the channel of the Payon River, a coastal river that now lies under the Promenade du Payon. It is clear that this settlement also needed protection and this lower part of the city was surrounded by a rampart, which partially followed the course of the river.
Nice's modern city library looks just really modern ...
At the highest point of the hill was a castle, located on the site of a modern belvedere. It was the city magistrate and the court. Outside the citadel was the Cathedral of Saint-Marie and many of the mansions of the noble inhabitants of Nice. The tower and the town hall were not too far from the wall, in the upper part of the lower city.
Castle Hill and the remains of the fortress of the XVIII century. There was once a maritime museum in the white tower, but today it is closed
Since 1388, Nice belonged to the House of Savoy, a mountainous state whose capital, Turin, was, however, quite far away. At the same time, Nice and Villefranche were the only cities of this duchy overlooking the sea. A whole series of goods went through them, in particular, the salt so valued at that time. Naturally, the dukes of Savoy had to strengthen the defense of these important places for them, which allowed them to get real money.
Bastions under the gun
Therefore, the Dukes of Amadi and Louis the First began to rebuild the Kastrum Magnum ("the great castle") already in the 1520th century. Around 1543, three semicircular bastions were built on the north side of the citadel, intended to strengthen the most vulnerable part of the walls. It turned out that this was very timely, since already in XNUMX Nice was captured by the troops of the Franco-Ottoman coalition, but the castle continued to resist heroically. Locals traditionally associate this event with the name of Katherine Seguran, the heroine of the legend, according to which this woman inspired the garrison of the castle and the inhabitants who sheltered there to resist the attackers.
Hotel "Negresco". It was in it that the “hapless daddies” from the comedy “Daddies” stayed. But actually, a separate article could be written about him and his guests ...
After this dramatic event, the Duke of Savoy, Emmanuel-Philibert, decided to carry out major changes in the defensive system of the city. He decided to demolish the buildings of the upper part of the city in order to make way for a new castle, which now had to turn into a powerful citadel. After that, between 1550 and 1580, all civilians left the hill to go down to the present old city and live there. There was already little space, and therefore the existing housing began to grow in height. It was during this period that the old city of Nice acquired a significant part of its architectural style, based on the incredibly dense settlement of sites between the sea, the river and the castle.
The lower the better!
During the 1560s, the engineers and architects of Piedmont Ferrante Vitelli and Francesco Pacotto significantly strengthened the defense of the city and the coast, including the Citadel of Nice and its ramparts, Fort Mont Alban, the Citadel of Villefranche and Saint Hospice in Cap Ferrat. The lower plateau (the cemetery is now located there) was surrounded by a fortress wall in the “modern” style of the time, that is, thick and low, which made it less vulnerable to artillery fire. To supply water to this impressive fortress, a 72-meter well was dug, which allowed to draw water at the level of an ancient river. This was a real feat of technical skill, and descendants appreciated it: when you go up to the top of Castle Hill by elevator, remember that the shaft of the elevator, installed in 1952, is located in this well!
In 1610, on the order of the first mayor of Nice, Honore Pastorelli, a very accurate graphic depiction of the city was made, allowing one to imagine what it was like in the 1950th century. So, not far from the castle you can see the facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral, excavations of which are currently underway since the 1783s. To the north of the citadel was another free space, on which a new cemetery was built in XNUMX
Nice's Gothic Quarter is very similar to ... the one in Barcelona!
There are no impregnable fortresses!
The defensive strongholds of Nice and Villefranche were considered impregnable and discouraged opponents of the Duchy of Savoy for a whole century and a half. But painfully a tidbit on this coast was the same Nice. Therefore, it is not surprising that during the next war in March 1691, French troops besieged it. They subjected it to intensive bombardment, which led to the explosion of the powder warehouse and the death of many people. After that, the defenders of the citadel surrendered, and the city itself fell into the hands of the French, although not for long. Under the Treaty of Turin, all coastal lands were returned to the Duke of Savoy in 1696.
It’s a pity that the maritime museum in this tower was closed ...
A new chapter in the history of Nice and its Castle Hill began during the War of the Spanish Succession, when the Duke Victor Amede II decided to enter into an alliance with the Emperor Leopold I of Habsburg. In April 1705, the city was again attacked by the French, and it capitulated, as did Villefranche, Mont Alban and St. Hospice. The fortress, however, refused to give up and was bombarded both from the sea and from land for several weeks (!). Finally, broken by cores, the wall collapsed and at the beginning of 1706 its defenders surrendered.
View from the mountain to the Gothic Quarter
Louis XIV decided to abandon the huge fortifications of Nice, which cost a lot of money to maintain. Therefore, he ordered the citadel and its city walls to be completely destroyed, which was already completed in the spring of 1706. So the military role of Nice came to an end. And a new fate began - a tourist center.
Although the mountain was no longer used for military purposes, it still remained the property of the Dukes of Savoy. Merchants began to use the preserved barracks for warehouses, and livestock grazed on the lawns. Since nobody watched the condition of the slopes, landslides began, destroying several houses at its foot.
“Let there be a park!”
During the Restoration period, the next Duke of Savoy, Karl-Felix, in 1822 granted the wishes of the inhabitants of Nice and allowed to turn the Castle Hill into a public garden, however, the artillery battery, the gunpowder and the guardhouse were still preserved here. The place was rocky, so it took a lot of money to turn it into a green park. It helped that in 1831 the Royal Chamber of Agriculture was allowed to use this place for its experiments on the acclimatization of various plants. So here it was possible to plant pines, cypresses, cedars, evergreen oaks, agave, figs and a host of other plants that were not previously characteristic of this place. This magnificent flora delighted both King Victor Emanuel II, who visited Nice in 1857, and Emperor Napoleon III, who visited here in 1860. When Nice finally became French in the same year, the castle belonged to the military. There were warehouses and barracks. But in 1934 it was transferred to the municipality of Nice, and then the last military buildings on its top were destroyed. Here, for example, from 1924 to 1958, equestrian competitions were held and even one of the anniversaries of the Communist Party of France was celebrated.
Another view from Castle Hill on Promenade des Anglais
On June 27, 1885, a water supply was made here and an artificial waterfall was arranged, so that now there was no need to worry about planting water-loving plants. But here, archaeological excavations were begun, in particular excavations of the ruins of the cathedral. And it is not surprising that very soon the park on the top of the mountain became very popular among both local residents and everyone coming here. By the way, today its area reaches 19,3 hectares, which for a hot sunny Nice is truly God's blessing.
Car accidents happen even here ...
And what attracted them all to Nice?
By the way, the Chateau cemetery, which is located at the bottom of Castle Hill, has been preserved to this day, is a real open-air museum and is considered the most beautiful necropolis in Europe. Not only notable residents of the city are buried here, but also French, Russian and English celebrities: writer and revolutionary Alexander Herzen, politician Leon Gambetta, author of the Phantom of the Opera Gaston Leroux, founder of Mercedes, Emil Jellinek and his daughter Mercedes Jellinek, mother of Giuseppe Garibaldi and many, many others.