A preeminent port, Marseille is the oldest city of France. Founded in 600 BC by the Greeks, it is also one of the most populous commune in France. This wonderful city is believed to be a melting pot of cultures and is designated as the 'European Cultural Capital of France'. Marseille has an extensive list of cultural and entertainment attractions that would appeal to anyone. From an opera house to historical museums, art galleries, cinemas, restaurants, it has it all. You name it and Marseille would probably have it. For those who love those ancient buildings and the historical churches, Marseille is a perfect place to visit. In fact many tourists start their Riviera vacation in Marseille.
Notable Attractions in Marseille, France
Built in 1524 by Francois I, this island fortress was used to protect Marseille against enemy attacks and ensure the supplies from the sea. By the 17th century the fort had been converted into a prison, to jail the opponents of the royal power. The popularity of the fort stems from the fact that it was used as the setting for Alexander Dumas's book, The Count of Monte Christo.
Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde
Situated atop the highest point of Marseille, Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde is a Romano-Byzantine basilica built in 1864 and is covered entirely in gold leaf. The key attraction of the basilica is the 36 feet high statue of Virgin Mary on the bell tower overlooking one of the most picturesque sights of the city and the port. The interior of the church is decorated with beautifully colored murals and marble.
The Palais du Pharo
An impressive attraction of Marseille is the Palais du Pharo which was built by Napoleon III as his waterfront residence. It was bequeathed to the city in 1883 by Napoleon's wife, the empress, EugTnie de Montijo. Its spectacular interior and the lush gardens are a treat to behold. The palace is now used as an exhibition and conference venue. To facilitate it, a 900 seater auditorium and several halls have been built beneath the gardens.
The Vieux Port
The Vieux Port, also referred to as the old port is where Greek settlers from Phocaea landed on the shores of Marseille. An important port which is still in use today, the Vieux port is also the sight of several important landmarks of Marseilles. The forts of St Jean and St Nicholas stand at the entrance of the harbor while the beautiful Saint Victor's Abbey is located to the south of the old port.
Musee D'histoire De Marseille: Marseille History Museum
Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Marseille is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, notable among them being the Gallo-Roman pottery, metallurgy and ship building. The Marseille history museum houses some of the most beautiful specimens of the past. The highlight of the museum is the wreck of the Roman cargo boat and the hull of a Greek ship.
Besides these places of interest, this modern cosmopolitan city has much to offer with its exciting nightclubs, some amazing restaurants offering the best of French cuisine, beautiful monuments and nearly twenty museums. So step into this colorful heady city and enjoy the cultural extravaganza!