Viewings of the City Marseille
Marseille is a modern big city with a very well arranged traffic net. There is a subway as also numerous line busses whith which one can comfortably get to any spot of the city. Most of the sightseeings are located in the proximity of the Vieux Port, so that one can get there by foot.
One can also get to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde by public means of transportation or by foot starting from the harbour. By arriving up perspiring, I discover numerous parking places. The famous hill is probably the only place at which one gets more comfortably by car than by foot or by public means of traffic.
The Vieux Port
The old harbour forms the touristical centre of the city. Alongside the three roads, the restaurants and the cafés string together. In the harbour, some posh yachts swarm at the piers. At the north side of the old harbour there is the Quai des Belges. There, the fishermen and their wifes sell every morning he fish they caught during the night. It is good fun to loaf in between the fisher stands and to look at the fishes.
Exactly here is also the original Marseille that was founded more than 2.500 years ago by the Greeks. But despite of the stands of the old fishermen nothing reminds any more on the old flair of the city.
In the mornings, hundreds of small boats and yachts leave the harbour; it is a fascinating to see how the piers get empty within some seconds. At night, the harbour is really beautiful. Both forts a the lower end of the basin are brightly illuminated. And of course, the restaurants shine brightly at night. A walk alongside the old harbour at night is a must during a visit of Marseille. Then, one really gets a Mediterranean and holiday feeling.
By looking across the harbour in southern direction, there is the Fort St. Jean to the right and to the left the Fort Saint Nicolas. It is bout two citadels that practically form the entrance gate into the harbour. But both fortifications were not built in the early medieval times as one might actually guess, but they are of the time of the Sun King. Ludwig XIV. made the two fortifications build, either in order to protects the city all around the ouside as also in order to set a sign of its power to the self-confident, hardheaded inhabitants of the city.
Behind the place Saint Nicolas there is a small park named Jardin du Pharo with the same named castle. From this spot that is a little elevted, one has a wonderful view either to the old harbour as also to the big city harbour. From here, one also sees the big ships navigating into the Bassin de la Grande Joliette einfahren. The city harbour at which some huge Mediterranean ferries land, is very impressive. On a quayside of barely 20 km , about 150 ships string together. From here, one can "rapidly" get transferred to Korsika or, in trips up to 25 hours, even up to Algeria.
Beside the old harbour and the adjacent city harbour, Marseille still haves an industrial harbour of approximately . 50 km that is located at the north. Here, some huge freight ships are unloaded and oil tanks provide the country with the valued prime material.
At the Vieux Port of Marseille, also tourist ships start to Calanques. This tour is highly recommendable; but it is either cheaper and also less time consuming not to book the tour from Marseille but from Cassis.
Cathédrale de la Major
At only a few hundred metres to the north of the harbour there is a huge, monstrous church named Cathédrale de la Major. The church was built in the 11th century and belonged once to one of the most beautiful Roman churches at all. In the 19th century, the catholic church made rebuilt the cathedral.
It is self evident that a growing city also needs bigger churches. But the main reason for the rebuilding was not the increasing number of inhabitants of the city but the wish of the leaders of the catholic church to set a clear sign to the approaching ships coming for far countries, insinuating that Marseille is dominated by the Christendom.
The cathedral is of a length of 140 metres, the cuppola has a height of approximately 70 metres. From the exterior, the church really appears as a giant; one looks respectfully up to the colossus. In the interior, there are some worthwhile seeing sculptures that remained from the original building of the 11th century as also some expandings of the late medieval times.
The church can be also comfortably visited by car, as there are numerous parking places for buses and cars right beside the cathedral. But be careful by driving back: those who are queueing at the wrong lane will involuntarily pass under the basin of the old harbour in order to come out again at the south bank.
Basilika Notre Dame de la Garde
A little outside the city centre of Marseille at approximately one kilometre at the south of the old harbour there is a mountain heighted approximately 162 metres with the emblem of the French Mediterranean metropolis, the Basilika Notre Dame de la Garde. The pilgrimage church was built in the year 1864 and has a tower heighted 60 m with a gold plated madonna that is wonderfuly illuminated at nights.
The church itself is nothing interesting. The reason why every visitor of the city Marseille pilgrimages to the Basilika Notre Dame de la Garde is the imposing view that one can enjoy from the highest elevation of the city. From here, one has a dream view to the old harbour, the city harbour behind it, the whole of the city Marseille and the heartland.
It is highly recommendable to get to the hill in the mornings, not only due to the reson that in the mornings one does not get too exhausted by the rising of more than 15% but also due to the reason that by looking to the city, the sun radiates at one's back so that one can do some nice pictures. From the southern quay side of the Vieux Port, one gets to the Basilika by foot after approximately one hour, but the way is very exhausting. By car, it is possible to get to some big parking places that are located shortly underneath the church.
On the hill there was, by the way, a little chapel already during the medieval times. Of course, the highest elevation of the city Marseille was used in all epoches as a military view and spying point.
Of course there are still numerous further sightseeings in Marseille. There are countless museum in which one can spend the time in case there is bad weather; there are numerous further churches that are worthwhile seeing; there are some interesting places and buildings as the Arc de Triomphe; and there are of course also nice parks where one can relax.
But there is still a very famous and small rock island that made an author named Alexandre Dumas world famous. In the Château d'If, the famous Earl of Monte Christo is supposed to have been in prison. Of course, such an Earl had never been there, but the island is so famous that several thousands of tourists do a small boat trip to this famous spot. The most impressive thing of this boat trip is certainly the view to the metropolis from the sea.
The bare rock island with the Château was a prison island during several centuries, where the rebells against the King and the State were exposed to and taken into prison.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz