Colline du Chateau Nice – the cradle of the sun
This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city and at the same time the place where Nice saw daylight for the first time around the year 500 BC when the Greeks founded the city of Nice.
92 meters above sea level, you’ll meet the most magnificent views of Nice, the Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean sea with the Baie des Anges.
When some call the Colline du Chateau the cradle of the sun, it has to do with the fact that here at the top you can enjoy both the rising of the sun towards the old port and the sunset towards the Promenade des Anglais.
Until 1706, there was both a citadel and a cathedral on top of the mound. Today, only ruins remain. In return, you will find several hidden gems as well as a café, a gift shop and stunning views.
The hill is a popular spot for families as it has a playground at the top, enough space to run around and a picnic area. You can explore what is left of the castle, see the ruins of the ancient cathedral and enjoy Le Parc du Château, the cemeteries and the fine chapel of Sainte Trinité.
You can follow the mosaic-covered paths that meander through the green areas and discover a beautifully landscaped waterfall.
The Chateau closes at night, but you can walk up to it, a weekend per month. Fête du Chateau is a free two-night party on the last Saturday and Sunday in June. It has a kind of hippie vibe and is a bit of a musical hodgepodge, but it’s all worth it, just for the extraordinary moonlight views of Nice.
There are several roads up to the top
Depending on the shape you are in and the desire for stairs, there are several roads to the top of the Colline du Chateau.
The easiest and least exhausting is definitely to take the free lift, which is located just below the Bellanda Tower close to the hotel Suisse. This elevator has its own history as it was built by the Germans during World War II and served as a goods elevator. It has since been rebuilt and when you drive up with it, you can see some of the tunnels the Germans had begun excavations in.
If you want to use your legs and get a little sweat on your forehead, you can either take the good 300 steps that start close to the elevator or one of the other less demanding roads from the old town, Montée du Chateau (not far from Palais Lascaris ) Or Montée Eberlé which is close to Place de Garabaldi.
The story behind Colline du Chateau
The hilltop had two important things that made it the obvious place to settle down. Firstly, there was running water here, and secondly, the location was strategically solid.
From around the year 1000 there was a medieval castle, a cathedral and a small village surrounded by strong fortress walls. It was, at that time, one of the most formidable fortifications along the Mediterranean coast. Rumor had it that the fortress was impossible to conquer.
As the population grew, the need to settle down along the ridge increased, and in this way arose what we know today as the Old Town of Nice.
The castle, cathedral and fortress walls were demolished by order of Louis XIV in 1706. At that time, Nice County belonged to the Duchy of Savoy, and in a war with France, French troops succeeded in capturing the castle, which had never been conquered. In order to never have to conquer it again, Louis XIV ordered its demolition.
This tower is legendary and one of the most iconic buildings on the Promenade des Anglais.
It offers a breathtaking view and is a great place just to catch your breath on the way up to the castle park, if you chose to take the stairs.
With a surface area of
However, it is not the original tower that was part of the fortification wall of the former citadel. It was demolished along with the rest of the fortifications by Louis XIV in 1706. At that time the tower was called Saint Elmo with reference to the sailors’ cloud angel.
Resurrection and house of Hector Berlioz
The Bellanda Tower was rebuilt in 1824 by the Clarissy family and was at that time part of their guest house. It is there, among other things, that the famous French composer Hector Berlioz lived and composed the opening of King Lear.
During World War II, the Germans used the building as a gym, and in the early 60s, ownership passed down to the municipality. In the years 1963-2002, the Bellanda Tower housed a maritime museum.
As part of the city beautification in 1885, on the ruins of the old dungeon, this decorative waterfall was built. It also served as an overflow for the basins of Nice’s first modern water supply built in 1867 and located in Peillon approx. 12 miles northeast of Nice.
The cemeteries, memorials & chapel
There are two cemeteries, a memorial to the Holocaust as well as a chapel at the north end of the park area. A Christian and a Jewish cemetery, built in 1783, and the chapel from 1935. The latter was built by Nice’s chief architect Francois Aragon, in a beautiful ocher color with baroque accents and frescoes signed by Aragon.
The small avenue leading up to the chapel from Montée Eberlé is named after the architect – Allée Francois Aragon.
By Tommy Sverre / 2021