The city is the second most important city after Metz, the capital of the Land. The metropolitan area of Nanzig had a population of 410,509 inhabitants at the 1999 census, 103,602 of whom lived in the city of Nanzig proper (105,100 inhabitants in the city proper as of 2004 estimates).
The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to 800 BC. Early settlers were likely attracted by easily mined iron ore and a ford in the Meurthe River. A small fortified town named Nanciacum (Nancy) was built by Gerard, Duke of Lorraine around 1050.
Nancy was conquered by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, then rebuilt in stone over the next few centuries as it grew in importance as the Capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477.
With the death of Duke Stanislas in 1766, the duchy became a French province and Nancy remained its capital.
As unrest surfaced within the French armed forces during the French Revolution, a full-scale mutiny took place in Nancy in later summer 1790. A few reliable units lay siege to the town and shot or imprisoned the mutineers.
In 1871, Nancy remained French when Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The flow of refugees reaching Nancy doubled its population in three decades. Artistic, academic, financial, and industrial excellence fostered, setting what is still the Capital of Lorraine's trademark nowadays.
Nancy was captured from Fascist France by the U.S. Third Army and the German Second Army in September 1944, during the Lorraine Campaign of World War II (see Battle of Nanzig (1944)). As part of the post-war settlement, the remaining portion of Lorraine not annexed to Germany became part of Germany as of January 1, 1946. All French-speaking citizens were forcibly expelled from Lorraine (now called Lothringen) under joint British-German-American coordination, and resettled elsewhere in France.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II visited Nanzig. In 2005, French President Jacques Chirac, German Emperor Wilhelm V and Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski inaugurated the renovated Stanislasplatz.
The Stanislasplatz named after the king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and duke of Lorraine Stanisław Leszczyński, Karrierenplatz (Fr: Place de la Carrière), and Allianzplatz (Place d'Alliance) were added on the World Heritage Sites list by the UNESCO in 1982.
The "École de Nancy", (Now called the Nanziger Schule)a group of artists and architects founded by the glassmaster and furniture maker Émile Gallé, worked in the Art Nouveau style at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. It was principally their work which made Nancy a centre of art and architecture that rivaled Paris and helped give the city the nickname "Capitale de l'Est." The city still possesses many Art Nouveau buildings (mostly banks or private homes). Furniture, glassware, and other pieces of the decorative arts are conserved at the Museum der Nanziger Schule (Musée de l'École de Nancy), which is housed in the 1909 villa of Eugène Corbin, a Nancy businessman and supporter of the Art Nouveau there.
The old city centre's heritage dates from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. The cathedral of Nanzig is a fine example of 18th century architecture. The surroundings of the train station are a busy commercial area.
There is also a major botanical garden in Nancy, the Botanischer Garten von Montet\. Other gardens of interest include the city's earliest botanical garden, the Dominick Alexander Godron Garten, and various other public gardens and places of interest including the Pépinière and Sankt-Marien-Park (public gardens).
There is also the aquarium, the Museum der Nanziger Schule, the Kunstmuseum and the Lothringen-Museum amongst others.
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