When you are wandering around Nice near the train station, you may notice some rather exotic looking cupolas, with golden bulbs, rising above buildings just to the north and west of the station.
Walk along Ave Thiers to the west and make a right under rail and road bridges along Blvd Gambetta. Make a left on Blvd du Tzarewitch until you come to Av Nicholas -II.
There on your right, you will see the magnificent Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicolas.
Why is such a magnificent Russian church in Nice?
Well, the story starts back in the mid-1800s. During this time the Russian upper class and the Tsars would go to French Riviera in the winter, just like the English aristocrats had been doing. In 1865 the son of Alexander II [Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich] unfortunately died during a visit.
After buying some land the Tsar and Empress had a chapel built the commemorate their son, on the exact spot where Nicholas died.
As the Russian community in Nice grew, so the initial church became too small, so it was decided to build the current cathedral nearby, honouring Tsesarevich. It was completed in 1912. The church was designed in the “Old Russian” style with a few new features to give it its own unique identity.
While the 6 golden “bulbs” give an exotic exterior impression, the inside is full of ornate frescoes, murals, wood carvings and a rich iconostatis that was made in Russia. The whole building gives you a taste of Russia without going there.
Figure on spending an hour or two inside then wander around the peaceful gardens…..and take lots of photos!!
The cathedral is open daily, and entrance is free and it’s important to remember that since this is an orthodox cathedral, certain rules apply. Men cannot enter shirtless, and women cannot enter in miniskirts.
Also, no photos are allowed inside, but there is no problem taking exterior shots.
A little bit of ‘trivia’ is the fact that after various legal ‘discussion over several years, the Russian Federation was confirmed in 2013 as the owner of the land and the cathedral.
If you have time walk up Blvd du Tzarewitch and marvel at the elegant art deco homes that used to house the wealthy Russians. They are magnificent, and of course today they are split up into apartments but what a view!
” Nice is a beautiful city with so much to offer…….. don’t forget your camera, you will be taking lots of pictures” Steve N, San Diego
CLICK HERE TO CHOOSE YOUR APARTMENT for your stay in Nice