1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aix

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AIX, a city of south-eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, 18 m. N. of Marseilles by rail. Pop. (1906) 19,433. It is situated in a plain overlooking the Arc, about a mile from the right bank of the river. The Cours Mirabeau, a wide thoroughfare, planted with double rows of plane-trees, bordered by fine houses and decorated by three fountains, divides the town into two portions. The new town extends to the south, the old town with its wide but irregular streets and its old mansions dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries lies to the north. Aix is an important educational centre, being the seat of the faculties of law and letters of the university of Aix-Marseille, and the north and east quarter of the town, where the schools and university buildings are situated, is comparable to the Latin Quarter of Paris. The cathedral of St Sauveur, which dates from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, is situated in this portion of Aix. It is preceded by a rich portal in the Gothic style with elaborately carved doors, and is flanked on the north by an uncompleted tower. The interior contains tapestry of the 16th century and other works of art. The archbishop's palace and a Romanesque cloister adjoin the cathedral on its south side. The church of St Jean de Malto, dating from the 13th century, contains some valuable pictures. The hôtel de ville, a building in the classical style of the middle of the 17th century, looks on to a picturesque square. It contains some fine wood-work and a large library which includes many valuable MSS. At its side rises a handsome clock-tower erected in 1505. Aix possesses many beautiful fountains, one of which in the Cours Mirabeau is surmounted by a statue of René, count of Provence, who held a brilliant court at Aix in the 15th century. Aix has thermal springs, remarkable for their heat and containing lime and carbonic acid. The bathing establishment was built in 1705 near the site of the ancient baths of Sextius, of which vestiges still remain. The town, which is the seat of an archbishop and court of appeal, and the centre of an académie (educational circumscription), numbers among its public institutions a Court of assizes, tribunals of first instance and of commerce, and a chamber of arts and manufactures. It also has training-colleges, a lycée, a school of art and technics, museums of antiquities, natural history and painting, and several learned societies. The industries include flour-milling, the manufacture of confectionery, iron-ware and hats, and the distillation of olive-oil. Trade is in olive-oil, almonds and stone from the neighbouring quarries.

Aix (Aquae Sextiae) was founded in 123 B.C. by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus, who gave his name to its springs. In 102 B.C. its neighbourhood was the scene of the defeat inflicted on the Cimbri and Teutones by Marius. In the 4th century it became the metropolis of Narbonensis Secunda. It was occupied by the Visigoths in 477, in the succeeding century was repeatedly plundered by the Franks and Lombards, and was occupied by the Saracens in 731. Aix, which during the middle ages was the capital of the county of Provence, did not reach its zenith until after the 12th century, when, under the houses of Aragon and Anjou, it became an artistic centre and seat of learning. With the rest of Provence, it passed to the crown of France in 1487, and in 1501 Louis XII. established there the parlement of Provence which existed till 1789. In the 17th and 18th centuries the town was the seat of the intendance of Provence.