Cathedrale de la Major
Overlooking Marseilles new port and a short walk from the old port stands Marseilles Cathedral de la Major. Begun in 1852 at the instigation of Napolean Bonaparte, the cathedral was not finished until 1893. Built at a time of French expansion in the orient and looking out over the port which served this, the cathedral was a statement of Frances wealth and power looking eastwards. The buildings byzantine inspired architecture is grand, with high 70m domes and towers ornamenting its lower central nave. Built from local limestones layered in horizontal stripes of dark and light it is a striking large and ornate building said to rival St Peters Basilica in Rome.
Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean
Marseilles “museum on the med” opened in 2013 as part of Marseille’s year as European Capital of Culture. The museum is located in a small dock north of the old harbour and is contained in the new J4 building in the dock and the historic Fort St Jean, the docks old fortifications. The new J4 building is remarkable in appearance, being a massive low cube with two sides and its roof made from a lacy, organic mesh of black concrete, that is both futuristic and alien looking. A high narrow footbridge, 115m long crosses the water connecting the old white fort to the black futuristict cube.
Les Parcs et Palais Longchamp
Built in 1869, the Palais Longchamps is a monumental water park to commemorate the completion of Marseille’s canal. This long awaited engineering feat carries water 81km from the Durance River, via 17km of underground tunnels and 18 viaducts to satisfy the cities summer droughts. So pleased were the Marseillais with its completion that they built this large park with ornamental gardens and a grand Palais in front. The Palais has two wings housing a natural history museum and an art gallery which are centred upon an elaborate fountain. The extensive gardens behind the palais contain; a classic jardin a la francaise, an English landscape garden and picturesque pavilions and animal houses from a 19th Century zoo.