Guide to Nice’s Historic Sights
Below is a list of the most famous historical attractions in Nice, all of which have a long and interesting history:
Castle Hill Park: This is one of Nice’s top tourist attractions. Phoenician Greeks found the city of Nike on this exact spot a few millennia ago. In medieval times, a castle, now missing, protected the area. Today, it is a large landscape park and gardens (dating back to 1829) with a grand fortification which retains much of its Medieval look.
The Old Town (Vieux Ville): With local markets and churches, it is here that you can observe and experience the traditional Nice way of life. It’s home to an impressive flower market, cafés serving socca (large chickpea crêpe, a local staple), and shops selling everything from tourist trinkets to cool vintage clothes.
Cimiez: Leafy Cimiez is an upscale residential area known its expansive park with a vast olive grove, the ruins of a Roman city, an archaeology museum and the Monastery of Cimiez. Elegant apartment buildings fill the area, including the regal late-1800s ‘Excelsior Regina Palace’. During the Belle Epoque, Cimiez became the favorite holiday resort for the Kings and Queens of Europe, including Victoria, Edward VII, George V, and Leopold II.
Notre Dame: This church is an impressive architectural landmark in Nice built in 1868. It is the largest Church in Nice, France. It has two square towers, both twenty-five meters high, in Gothic-style design.
Le Jardin Botanique: What this garden offers is more than beauty. It gives knowledge about the world of plants and flora of the continents. Created in 1983, it houses more than 3000 plant species on its 3.5 hectares with an open-air museum.
Cours Saleya Market: You can purchase fresh goods such as olives, cheese, herbs, and flowers here every morning. It ia also a Broconte (‘antique market’), where antiques and other collectibles are present. During summer nights it moonlights as an artisan market. Check out our guide to Nice’s best market.
Matisse Museum: A must-see is the Matisse Museum, housed in a magnificent 17th century mansion. Once home to the master himself, several of his major works are on display – both art lovers and the uninitiated alike will be captivated. Here, you can learn about the life and works of modern art master Henri Matisse.
Masséna Square: This local meetup square has a beautiful fountain, street performers, and uniquely checkered pavement. You can follow the main boulevard to shopping like the classic French department store Galeries Lafayette.
Russian Orthodox Cathedral: Tsar Alexander II inaugurated the construction of the Russian Cathedral in Nice, which was dedicated to his son, the successor of the Russian Empire, who died in Nice at the age of 21. The cathedral was conceived for the growing Russian community in Nice and its surrounding areas in the XIX century.
Fort du Mont-Alban: A military fort, its location is on the hill with the same name. It has a majestic panoramic scene. Westward, you can view Baie des Anges to the Esterel mountains. On the east, the scene starts from the bay of Villefranche that extends to Italian Riviera.
Place Garibaldi: It is the oldest and largest square in the city. Buildings with baroque layouts surround the square. You can find the statue of Garibaldi (the Italian revolutionary leader) in the center.
Museum of Fine Arts: The Museum of Fine Arts of Nice opened in 1928 in a former private residence which dates back to the late 19th century. The collections retrace the history of art from the 16th to the 20th century, with highlights referring to the works of Fragonard, Rodin, Rude, Ziem, Raffaelli, Boudin, Monet, Sisley, Van Dongen, Dufy, Cheret, Degas and plenty other artists.
Cimiez Monastery: A beautiful Franciscan monastery from the 800s filled with hundreds of items of art, immaculate gardens overlooking Nice, a museum, and Matisse’s grave. Originally founded in the 11th century by Benedictine monks, it was later turned into a Franciscan convent.