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Pau also plays the role of cultural capital with many events, including sports.
Pau's heritage extends over several centuries, its diversity and its quality allowed it to obtain the label of City of Art and History in 2011.
The history of Pau is marked by the birth of Henry of Bourbon 13 December 1553 in the castle of his grandparents.
He gained access to the throne of France in 1589 under the title of Henry IV.
It was home to the Parliament of Navarre and Béarn which wrote its texts in Occitan until the Revolution and its dismantling to create the Department of Basses-Pyrénées (becoming Pyrénées-Atlantiques in 1969).
It was during the 18th century when another famous person was born in Pau, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte who became Marshal of the Empire and King of Sweden (today, still the ruling dynasty) and Norway from 1818 until his death in 1844.
It was at this time that Pau became one of the world capitals of the nascent aerospace industry under the influence of the Wright brothers, crowned heads then pressed there to observe the flight of the first flying school in the world.
Pau became the capital of Béarn in 1464, thus becoming the political, cultural and economic centre of this small State which continued to defend its independence from the neighbouring French, English and Spanish peoples.The Belle Époque marked a resurgence for the Béarnaise capital with a massive influx of wealthy foreign tourists (including English but also Russian, Spanish and American), they came to spend the winter to take advantage of the benefits of Pau's climate described by the Scottish physician Alexander Taylor.Pau turned widely with the construction of many villas and mansions to accommodate these wintering rich people, the city also developed all elements of modernity for their comfort: baths, funicular and railway station.The image of the city is since widely associated with that of this monarch made famous for his willingness to put an end to the seemingly endless Wars of Religion.With the end of Béarnaise independence in 1620, Pau lost its influence but remained the same at the head of a largely autonomous province.