Antibes was founded as a 5th-century BC Greek colony settled by Phocaeans from Massilia, called Ἀντίπολις, Antípolis which literally means the “city across” as the city was situated across the sea from “Νίκαια”, the main Greek city at that time. Due to its naturally protected port, the town of Antibes has long been an important trading centre.
Rome gradually increased its hold over the Mediterranean coast and in 43 BC, Antipolis was officially incorporated in the propraetorial (senatorial from 27 BC) province of Gallia Narbonensis in which it remained for the next 500 years. Antipolis grew into the largest town in the region and a main entry point into Gaul. Roman artifacts such as aqueducts, fortified walls and amphoræ can still be seen today.
After the Western Roman Empire disintegrated in 476 AD various barbarian tribes seized Antibes. This resulted in destruction and a long period of instability. In the 10th century, Antibes found a protector in Seigneur Rodoart, who built extensive fortified walls around the town and a castle in which to live. For the next 200 years, the town experienced a period of renewal.
Prosperity was short-lived, as the whole region fell into disarray for several centuries. The inhabitants of Antibes stayed behind their strong city walls as a succession of wars and epidemics ravaged the countryside. By the end of the 15th century, the region was under the protection and control of King Louis XI of France. Relative stability returned, but the small port of Antibes fell into obscurity.
From around the middle of the 19th century the Antibes area regained its popularity, as wealthy people from around Europe discovered its natural beauty and built luxurious homes here.
In 1926, the old Château Grimaldi in Antibes was bought by the local municipality and later restored for use as a museum. Pablo Picasso came to the town in 1946, having visited his friend and fellow painter Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara there in 1923, and was invited to stay in the castle. During his six-month stay Picasso painted and drew as well as crafting ceramics and tapestries. When he departed Picasso left a number of his works to the municipality. The castle has since become the Picasso Museum.
Jaume Plensa in Antibes