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Remains of Saint Mary’s Cathedral

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The Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) is Nice’s oldest site, dating back to 2100 BC. The ancient Greeks established a colony there before it fell under Roman domination. The earliest Christians established a church there between the 5th and 6th centuries and dedicated it to Saint Mary. 

(See more about the history of and things to do on Castle Hill)

Although those early remains have been excavated, todays excavations focus on the medieval cemetery associated with the Cathedral of Saint Mary. Archaeologists are now trying to understand the organization of the site beginning in the 9th century and ending in the 18th century. The cemetery has also undergone several complete redevelopments of its funerary space, mainly linked to the restructuring and modifications of neighboring buildings (cathedral and quadrangular building). Several modes of burial are present there: burials in the ground, saddlebacks, formwork. Nearly 300 individuals have been studied since the start of the excavation campaigns.

It’s a fascinating project and anyone wanting to get in touch with their inner Indiana Jones can have the Nice archaeology department take you through the site and explain their work. Plus, it’s free!

The program runs from July 4 to 28. English visits are available on request (I suspect these archaeologists are fluent in our tongue) and French visits are available from Monday to Friday at 9.30am, 11am, and 2pm. The visit lasts 45 minutes.

Reservations are essential. Contact or text 07 77 34 20 50.

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