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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the city's oldest districts, the Panier (literally translated meaning "basket") is where the ancient Phocaeans first settled and founded the city of Massilia. Using the 18th-century Hôtel-Dieu and Notre Dame des Accoules church bell tower (17th-19th century) as reference points, these lead to the foot of Montée des Accoules - a series of steep flights of steps typical of old Marseilles - which lead right to the heart of the district and pedestrians' paradise. Once home to the ancient city's Greek agora (a public open space used for assemblies and markets), Place de Lenche still bustles with life and has its own market, restaurants and theater. At the summit of the old town is Place des Moulins, which in the 16th Century lived up to its name with no less than fifteen flour mills. These days its fountain and school help maintain its village square's tranquility and charm.
This Protestant church is situated in the centre of town on the famous La Canebière main road which leads to the Vieux-Port. Meetings, services, prayer sessions, children's group gatherings, family association meetings are held throughout the week. Call ahead for further details.
Gymnase Theater, an Italian-style theater has established itself as a renowned theater in the cultural scene of Marseille. The interiors are embellished and accentuated in gold and this grand and elegant theater is well-equipped with the state-of-the-art technology and excellent acoustics.The theatre celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2004, making it one of the oldest theaters in the city. The production season includes classics of French theatre, as well as more modern fare.
L' Odéon was built in 1928, which was once at the beginning of the century the site of the local transport of Marseille: the horses' stables. Open from October until May, this place offers 4 auditoriums. The shows are varied and alternate from vaudeville, boulevard theater, one man shows, light opera, and concerts. This year chamber music, recitals, and even musical productions are strengthened.
La Canebière is Marseille's most famous street, opening directly onto the Old Port (Vieux Port). Its name originates from the Provençal term canébé, meaning "hemp," and can be traced back to the 11th Century when the street was home to rope-makers and hemp merchants. With the destruction of the dockyard in the late 18th Century, it gained free access to the port. Its lively hotels, luxury shops, theaters, and cafes earned it an international reputation.
Situated in the very heart of the city, the house boasts a striking façade of diamond-shaped stones and a beautifully sculptured staircase. Built by a wealthy Marseilles merchant between 1570 and 1576, it is a fine example of 16th Century civil architecture. It was inspired by the palaces of the Renaissance, in particular the Diamond Palace in Ferrare, Italy. Today the building houses a museum dedicated to the old town of Marseilles.
Marseille is one of the oldest and largest cities in France. This city is a cultural and entertainment hub boasting of prominent opera houses, historical museums, art galleries, theaters, restaurants and bars. This vibrant place has been the location for some of the most famous films of Hollywood including The French Connection, The Bourne Identity and many more classics.