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Top Rated Attractions in Marseille

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Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica

Topped by a monumental gilded bronze statue of the Virgin and Child-- added in 1870-- Marseille's distinctive basilica dominates the city from its highest point of 154 meters (505 feet). It was formerly used as a look-out post and important city fortification (François I had a fort built here in 1524). The hill on which it stands (Colline de la Garde) became a popular place of worship and pilgrimage with the building of this Romano-Byzantine-style basilica. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica was built on the site of the first chapel erected here in 1214. Today's basilica, designed by Espérandieu, formed part of major building work undertaken during the Second Empire and was consecrated in 1864.

Marseille History Museum

Centrally located, the Marseille History Museum forms the mainstay of the city's historical timeline, besides featuring a handful of archaeological finds that came to the fore during the 1967 excavation. Entry into the building opens to the jardin des vestiges, containing treasured architectural remains such as ramparts, port buildings and a necropolis. Local history of the city is reflected in the remains of a ship hull, potters' workshops from the Middle Ages and artist Pierre Puget's many works, among other things. There is also a library and a visitors' center on-site.

Old Port

The history of the port goes back as far as 600BCE, with the arrival of sailors from Phocaea, a Greek city in Asia Minor. France's oldest city came into being following the union of one of their leaders, Protis, with Gyptis, princess of the Ligurian people already settled in the region, whose territory in ancient times stretched right along the Mediterranean coast. The area, dappled with boutiques and historic landmarks, has since grown into a flourishing port and tourist site. With yachts and fishing boats bobbing by the side, the port beautifully captures the vibrancy of Marseille at the early morning fish market. Tourists and locals are found frequenting the numerous cafés facing the port which is an ideal spot to people watch as the dusk paints the whitewashed port environs in shades of tangerine. With its beauty recorded in several literary works, the port is a timelessly graceful relic of Marseille.

Le Molotov

Previously known as Le Balthazar, Le Molotov is a unique venue quite unlike its competitors. Musicians from the region, as well as from all over the world, bring a wide variety of styles and cultures. Le Molotov is not partial to any particular musical genre; instead, you can enjoy anything from reggae and rock to jazz and hip hop at this venue. Famous bands like Burning Streets and The Aggrolites have performed here in the past.

Marseille Cathedral

The Roman-Byzantine Marseille Cathedral was built in the middle of the 19th Century by Léon Vaudoyer, on the remains of the ancient Roman-Provençal 'Major' building which dates back to the 12th Century. With a capacity of 3000, it is the largest cathedral in France since the Middle Ages. The marble slabs, impressive porphyry columns and mosaics reflect the cathedral's true splendor, complemented by magnificent altars from the 12th and 15th Centuries and earthenware from the Della Robbia workshop are worth seeing.

Roman Docks Museum

Created in 1963, the Musée des Docks Romains harbors the remains of one of the few preserved trading ports in the world. Discovered during the reconstruction of the old port area which was destroyed during World War II, these archaeological remains are testimony to the commercial activity of Marseilles, the Phocaean City, in ancient times. Other exhibits retrace the Greek and medieval period from 6 BCE to 4 CE, giving a revealing insight into the different kinds of merchandise that passed through the city. For instance, you can see an amphora : the ancient Greek two-handled jar, as well as details of how it was made. Moreover, pieces of wreckage, once buried in the depths beyond the harbor, have now been raised for display.

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