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Little histories about Place Garibaldi in Nice

The square | Mirej / CC-BY-SA
Street District Place Garibaldi in Nice

A statue and its square

We see on the square the church belonging to the Blue Penitents brotherhood (an order founded in 1431): the chapel of Saint-Sepulchre, raised in 1543.

A real Italian square! It was laid out at the end of the 18th century, inspired by Turin’s squares, in Italy. In 1869, they transformed the square into a public garden, destroyed in 1891 in order to put the statue of Garibaldi.

Oh, let’s talk about that statue! A great contest began in 1885: several sculptors suggested their own creations: Antonio Pandiani, Fabio Stecchi... sorry, misters! They finally preferred Antoine Etex, from Paris.

He designed the low-reliefs on the famous city Arc de Triomphe but also Géricault’s tomb in Père-Lachaise cemetery (Paris) or the statue of king saint Louis on place de la Nation's column (Paris).

Etex was pretty old when he started to work on Garibaldi's effigy. So he appointed in his will the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Deloye to succeed him.

So this is statue made of white marble.

We have a boat bow (Garibaldi was a sailor’s son) and Nice coat of arm. Under the statue, a little child in his cradle: Garibaldi who brings France and Italy's allegories closer!

On each side of the pedestal, two lions echo battles in 1860 (Mille expedition) and in 1870 (battle of Dijon). The statue was inaugurated in 1891.

But let’s get back to the point! It was the old campus Martius of the Romans, or Camas, champ de Mars in French ("Mars' field"). It afterwards became place Victor, place de la République then place Napoleon.

Cannon balls, Bonaparte and Co

Oh, by the way... On this square, Napoleon, before he went to Italy in May 1796, said this famous sentence: "Soldiers, you are naked, poorly fed! Government owes you a lot, but we can’t give you anything. I’ll take you in the world’s richest meadows: rich provinces, big cities will be your reward."

On this square, too, on September 12th 1860, Nice mayor, Mr. Malaussena, gave the city’s keys to emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugenia, when France annexed Nice county.

Oh, just notice that: we still can see a cannon ball hanging on a wall! A Turkish ball thrown during the siege of 1543...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!