Top Historic Sights in Nice, France

Explore the historic highlights of Nice

Nice Cathedral

Nice Cathedral was built between 1650 and 1699, the year of its consecration. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint Reparata. On the site, the first cathedral was consecrated in 1049. In 1060, relics belonging to St. Reparate (For whom the current cathedral is named) arrived in the city of Nice. By the year 1075 there was construction of a chapel dedicated to St. Reparate. During the later h ...
Founded: 1650-1699 | Location: Nice, France

Palais Lascaris

The Palais Lascaris is currently a musical instrument museum. Located in the old town of Nice, it houses a collection of over 500 instruments, which makes it France’s second most important collection. Built in the first half of the 17th century and altered in the 18th century, the palace was owned by the Vintimille-Lascaris family until 1802. In 1942, it was bought by the city of Nice to create a museum. The restora ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Nice, France

Nice Castle Hill

The Castle of Nice was a citadel used for military purposes. Built at the top of a hill, it stood overlooking the bay of Nice from the 11th century to the 18th century. It was besieged several times, especially in 1543 and in 1691, before it was taken by French troops in 1705 and finally destroyed in 1706 by command of Louis XIV. Nowadays, Castle Hill is used as a park. It"s the most famous public garden in ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nice, France

Musée Masséna

Originally built as a holiday home for Prince Victor d’Essling (the grandson of one of Napoleon’s favourite generals, Maréchal Massena), the lavish belle-époque Musée Masséna is another of the city’s iconic architectural landmarks. Built between 1898 and 1901 in grand neoclassical style with an Italianate twist, it’s now a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of the Riviera – taking in everything from ...
Founded: 1898-1901 | Location: Nice, France

Hotel Negresco

The Hotel Negresco is located on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. It was named after Henri Negresco (1868–1920), who had the palatial hotel constructed in 1912. Today it is considered as the landmark of so-called Belle Époque era in French Riviera. Henri Negresco was the son of an innkeeper. He was educated and worked as a confectioner at the luxurious Casa Capșa in Bucharest, Romania, left ho ...
Founded: 1912 | Location: Nice, France

Cemenelum

The Roman city of Cemenelum was founded in the 1st century AD as a staging post for Roman troops in the Alpes Maritime region and it later became the regional capital. Favorably located, Cemenelum was chosen as the principal seat of the province of Alpes Maritimae by Augustus in 14 BC. Later, the Romans settled further inland, on the opposite side of the river Paillon. Remains of the town on the Hill of Cimiez date to the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Nice, France

Musée Matisse

The Musée Matisse in Nice is a national museum devoted to the work of French painter Henri Matisse. It gathers one of the world"s largest collections of his works, tracing his artistic beginnings and his evolution through his last works. The museum, which opened in 1963, is located in the Villa des Arènes. The Villa des Arènes was constructed from 1670 to 1685. Upon its completion, it was named the Gubern ...
Founded: 1963 | Location: Nice, France

Notre-Dame de Nice

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice was built between 1864 and 1868. It was designed by Louis Lenormand and is the largest church in Nice, but is not the cathedral. Inspired by Angers Cathedral, it is built in the Neo-Gothic style. Its construction was motivated by a desire to frenchify the city after the County of Nice was annexed to France from Italy, and at the time Gothic buildings were supposed to be charac ...
Founded: 1864-1868 | Location: Nice, France

Cimetière du Château

The graveyard at Cimetière du Château, which was founded in 1783, has 2,800 graves, where some of Nice"s most famous people lie buried. The cemetery stands on the old citadel of Nice. Even today, some sections of the massive walls of the ancient fortress remain. The fortress, which was built in the 16th century, was once one of the most secure strongholds in France. The cemetery is as much popular for its function ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Nice, France

Cimiez Monastery

Cimiez Monastery and church that have been used by the Franciscan monks since the 1546. The church houses the Pietà, Crucifixion and Deposition, by the Italian medieval artist Ludovico Brea. On display are also more than 300 documents and works of art from the 15th to 18th centuries. Buried in the cemetery near the monastery are the painters Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy as well as the winner of the 1937 Nobel ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Nice, France

St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

The St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral is the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The cathedral was opened in 1912, thanks to the generosity of Russia"s Tsar Nicholas II. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Russian nobility visited Nice and the French Riviera, following the fashion established decades earlier by the English upper class and nobility. In 1864, immediately after the railway reached N ...
Founded: 1903-1912 | Location: Nice, France

Marc Chagall Museum

The Musée Marc Chagall is dedicated to the work of painter Marc Chagall - essentially his works inspired by religion - located in Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes. The museum was created during the lifetime of the artist and inaugurated in 1973. It houses the series of seventeen paintings illustrating the biblical message, painted by Chagall and offered to the French State in 1966. This series illustrates the books of ...
Founded: 1973 | Location: Nice, France

Fort Alban

Fort du Mont Alban was built by order of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, between 1557 and 1560 and is one of the most exemplary French military architectural structures dating back to the 16th century. The purpose of its construction was to reinforce the defense line considerably debilitate as a result of the siege of Nice (in 1543). But what is striking about Fort du Mont Alban is it has survived, as said, in good c ...
Founded: 1557-1560 | Location: Nice, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice was built in the former private mansion built in 1878 by the Ukrainian Princess, Elisabeth Vassilievna Kotschoubey. Named for the artist Jules Chéret who lived and worked in Nice during his final years, the museum opened on 7 January 1928. The museum houses a collection of art spanning the past four centuries. There are paintings by Chéret and other artists who lived and worked on ...
Founded: 1878 | Location: Nice, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.