Aix in Provence is a living book of history. Rich and alive with heritage, thousands of years old, the Aix-En-Provence combines elements of all times from the Celto-Ligurian Oppidum of Entremont to the new Sextius-Mirabeau Quarter.
Being the political capital of the Confederation of the Celto-Ligurians, it was a city open to trade and exchange. The witness of the advanced civilization of the city can be watched through the archaeological excavations and the statuary exhibited at the Granet Museum.
In 122BC, the Romans decided to give up the plate of Entremont to settle on-site rich in resources. So, the Aquae Sextiae (Water of Sextius) was founded by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus. He gave his name to its springs. The city was a staging point between Italy and Spain and developed as an urban center and spa.
The diffusion of Christianity turned the new page of history. As the seat of the archbishop's palace of the ecclesiastical province, Aix was affirmed as capital from the beginning of the 5th century.
In 1182, Aix became the residence of the Counts de Provence. The city flourished around the three major poles namely the Palace of the Counts, the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, and several newly formed districts of artisans and merchants.
The city overflowed of its old ramparts with the installation of many convents of which most famous is that of Hospital of Jean Saint of Malta, the future burial of the Counts. By this time, the city had conserved its outer wall that starts from the old Holy Bourg Saint Sauveur i.e. the market town.
In 1409, the University was founded in the city by Louis II of Anjou. When the city was under the control of his son Rene (1409-1480), Aix got hold as an efficient administration and the city turned out to be a heart of artistic creation. These golden days were contributed by the legend of Queen Jeanne and King Rene. The statue of King Rene at the far end of the Cours Mirabeau still reminds of those thriving days.
One year after the death of King Rene, the Provence was attached to the Kingdom of France. Though it was annexed in the Kingdom, the Aix city strongly declined the centralizing policy of monarchy for about two centuries. The town then expanded and changed to a courtesan city organized around judicial and religious power. After these changes, it came under the rule of Louis XIV.
Since 1646, the Architectural space of the city developed significantly. The new Mazarin district was founded by the brother of the Cardinal, where renowned aristocrats, advisers, and magistrates came to settle down by leaving their homes in the medieval town.
In 1650, a street for horse-driven carts was opened in the place of collapsed ramparts. By the 19th century, this place became the Cours Mirabeau that was named after the "idol of Provence", a Member of Parliament of the Third Estate in 1789. The successful people were easily noticed by the richly adorned facades and monumental gates of their mansions. A large number of religious foundations were established in the city. Most of them were educational and medical foundations.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Aix experienced demographic and economic strides without any precedent. The city never lost its dynamism and continued to develop its universities and culture. The renovation and rebirth works and the future plans of the city testify to its cultural vocation open to the world. Now a day, tertiary activities and high-technology companies are playing a vital role in the economic expansion of the city in turn keeping the town steady in the third millennium.
Today, Aix is a city with human dimensions where a preserved inheritance and the town of tomorrow live together in perfect harmony! The district Sextius Mirabeau, the last "link" which connects the city to its new history, is the best example found here of this dynamism.