It is not only during Heritage Days that you can discover the treasures of the Phocaean City! Here are 10 unmissable places steeped in history to discover in Marseille.
Our Lady of the Guard
The Good Mother is the emblematic figure of Marseille, it overlooks the city and protects its inhabitants! It is impossible to discover Marseille without going to admire the view offered by this place of worship steeped in history. From there, we discover all of Marseille. It is possible to visit its basilica and its sanctuary and to discover its 800 year history.
Closure of the crypt at 6 p.m., of the basilica at 6.15 p.m.
St Victor Abbey
From this abbey was born a district where life is good in Marseille! So while strolling in the streets which surround it, we push the door of the Saint-Victor abbey founded in the 5th century and we discover its historical richness! This abbey owes its name to Saint Victor of Marseille, buried there with other martyrs. It is possible to discover its crypts where you can discover a rich collection of sarcophagi dating from the end of the 4th century.
The Château d’If
To get there, no other way than to take the shuttle that goes to Frioul (from the Old Port). We discover fortifications from the 16th century and we can even visit several dungeons including that of Dantes and its famous hole still visible ! François Ier used it to protect the coasts from an invasion and to monitor Marseille! But the Château d’If was also a state prison (which limited escapes). In the work of‘ Alexandre Dumas the count of Monte Cristo, his hero Edmond Dantès is detained in this castle!
The Château d’If also offers a unique panorama.
Storming Fort Saint Jean
With ascending origins in the 12th century, Fort Saint Jean is worth a look in Marseille! Symbol of Louis XIV’s mistrust, Fort Saint Jean is steeped in history. He saw the Hospitallers of Jerusalem settle there at the time of the Crusades. Its large square tower was built by King René between 1447 and 1453 and its round tower dates from the middle of the 17th century. Fort Saint Jean was built by order of Louis XIV from 1668 to 1671 after the expulsion of the Hospitallers!
Today, Fort Saint Jean is one of the most visited monuments in Marseille. For several years, it has been linked to MUCEM by a footbridge. In addition to offering exhibitions, it offers a magnificent view of the harbor of Marseille.
A must-see place during a visit to the Phocaean City.
The Palais Longchamp
The Palais Longchamp is a place that deserves a visit during your Marseille getaway. Today it houses two museums (the Fine Arts Museum and the Natural History Museum) but its history dates back to the 19th century, at the time when the city was struck by an epidemic of cholera, due to the lack of water purification. After having dug an 85-kilometer canal which is to carry water from the Durance to Marseille, the Palais Longchamp was created for this arrival of water.
Stroll in its park, games for children and visit its museums, everything is a good pretext for going to the Palais Longchamp.
Visit the Cité Radieuse, Le Corbusier’s unmissable monument
La Cité Radieuse is an essential place to discover in Marseille for all architecture lovers! Made between 1947 and 1951 by the famous Le Corbusier, this apartment building with the particularity of representing an urban liner. In total, the Cité Radieuse houses 337 apartments but also a hotel, a restaurant, an art gallery, shops, a rooftop terrace, a school …
This listed building is part of the 20th century heritage and Unesco World Heritage. Place open to visitors
It contributes to the spirit of sharing advocated by Le Corbusier, the spirit that the inhabitants of the Habitat unit contribute by opening up to everyone, and for many years, their place of daily life.
Visit the Cathedral of the Major
In front of the Mucem, impossible to miss “la Major”. So called by the Marseillais, this majestic cathedral was built by Léon Vaudoyer between 1852 and 1893 in Roman-Byzantine style. It is the largest cathedral built since the Middle Ages.
Open every day except Monday, the interior of the cathedral is worth a look!
Then after your visit to the Major, at its feet are a café, covered market and shops. A lunch in the halls to pick from a dozen stalls, a café on the terrace, a little shopping … all facing the sea.
The Old Charity
Not far from the Major, the visit continues with the center of the Vieille Charité. To get there, a nice walk in the Panier district allows you to immerse yourself in this typically Marseille district.
For the record, the construction of Vieille Charité dates from a decision taken in 1640 by the city to lock up the poor and beggars. It was not until 1670 that its construction began. This is one of the most beautiful works of Pierre Puget!
Over the course of history, the Vieille Charité was transformed into a hospice and then into a barracks, before being abandoned until the day when Le Corbusier drew attention to this building which had fallen into ruin. Today, listed as a historical monument, it hosts the mediterranean archeology museum, the Museum of African, Oceanian and Native American Arts, temporary exhibitions and a cinema, Le Miroir.
Another important site of Marseille’s heritage, Château Borély was built from 1767 to 1778 according to the plans of Marie Joseph Peyre, director of the king’s buildings and Esprit-Joseph Brun, the architect for the merchant Louis Borély.
After having belonged to the Marquis de Panisse, the castle was bought in 1856 by Paulin Talabot who ceded it to the city in 1860. The Borély castle and its vast 17-hectare park, much appreciated by Marseilles, bear witness to past splendours.
Closed to the public in 2004, the castle required major works and was able to reopen in June 2013 with its Museum of Decorative Arts of earthenware and fashion, from the 17th century to contemporary times.
The Château de la Buzine
Built at XIXth century by the famous Marseille architect-entrepreneur Pierre-Hilaire Curtil, the Château de la Buzine is located in the 11th arrondissement of Marseille. Many families succeeded each other until 1941, when the famous native of the country Marcel Pagnol buys it back to make it a city of cinema.
As a child, little Marcel Pagnol passed through these properties to go with his family to La Treille. A memory that we find in his film The Castle of my mother.
In 1942, the Château de la Buzine was requisitioned by the German army
After some time of vacancy, the castle was unsanitary and Marcel Pagnol sold it with his estate in 1973 and housing was built in part of its park. To save what remains of the castle, an association created in 1991. The Castle is bought by the city of Marseille and restores it
Since 2011, the Château de la Buzine houses a cinema room, an exhibition hall, a restaurant. We can therefore discover it and enjoy its park.