Marseille, France

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille, France

By some long way the most distinctive building in Marseille, this impressively situated and rather elegant church stands on the highest point of Marseille.

A small 13th Century chapel, also called Our Lady of the Guard, stood here for centuries next to a 16th Century fortification. The church has always been associated with the sailors of Marseille and their safe return to port.

In 1853 the Bishop of Marseille commission Henri-Jacques Espérendieu to design a new church to replace the 13th Century chapel. Work began in September 1853 and was completed in 1864.

The most obvious feature of the church is the 197 foot belfry topped by the gleaming Madonna and child statue which has become the unofficial emblem for Marseille.

Even if you are not interested in the church and its rather gaudy interior, it is worth taking a taxi or bus up to the church for the unrivalled views across France’s second City.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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