By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Marseille is the oldest city in France, with the country’s second-largest population behind only Paris.
In 1792, Marseille sent 500 volunteers to Paris to support the French Revolution. The song they sung on their march from Marseille to Paris, a call to arms that became known as La Marseillaise, now the national anthem of France.
A MARSEILLE ALBUM
The Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde stands watch over Marseille, offering a great vantage point from its perch at the highest point in the city to the south of the Old Port, and some striking architecture.
Ornamented with an ornate Neo-Byzantine design, it was begun in 1853 and completed in 1864. Locals commonly call the church la bonne mère (“the good mother.”)
The church was built on the site of a 13th century chapel, also dedicated to Notre-Dame de la Garde: Our Lady of the Watch, the traditional guardian of seafarers.
The 200-foot-tall belfry and statue can be seen across much of the city and for miles out at sea.
The interior is decorated with inlaid marble, mosaics and murals. Many of the walls are covered with ex-votos, including paintings, plaques, model boats, war medals and even football shirts given by players and supporters of Olympique de Marseille, the local football team.
Along the lively waterfront, a grand mirror designed by architect Norman Foster brings sea, land, and people together in a new dimension.
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