Dijon was first established as a settlement under the Romans, but was only ever of minor importance and had no established trading reputation. But in 1032, Robert the Old became the first Duke of Burgundy, and proclaimed Dijon as his capital. In this privileged position, the city enjoyed vast wealth and power and developed a rich cultural heritage. Dijon was then situated on the 'spice route', and became known for its popular gingerbread produced as a result. As the gateway to a number of vineyards, Dijon was also famous for the many wines produced in the Burgundy region.
Monarchies and mustard
Along with the rest of Burgundy, Dijon was absorbed into the Kingdom of France in the late 15th century. The city continued to prosper, and the 17th and 18th centuries are generally seen as Dijon's golden era, due to the number of lavish buildings constructed during this period. The French Revolution transformed certain cities, but Dijon remained largely unchanged.
In fact, the changes only really began when the railway arrived in 1850. Dijon's position in France enabled it to become a major railway hub, and by 1852 the city's population had doubled - priming it for the Industrial Age. However, one of Dijon's most famous moments was yet to come. In 1856 Jean Naigeon developed a recipe for a 'Dijon Mustard'.
The mustard was not as strong as many others available, but because of this it was a tremendous success. Today much of Dijon's wealthy past is reflected in its architectural splendour, and the narrow streets that characterise the centre lend themselves to idle wandering.