Notre Dame de la Garde basilica is definitely Marseille emblem. Also called « La Bonne Mère » (« the good mother »), it is indeed a symbol adored by the Marseillais. Its extraordinary panorama of the city, its architecture and its impressive statues attract millions of visitors every year. Surely, if you are in Marseille, you must pay a visit to this famous spot.
This is Marseille mother. Perched on a hill overlooking the city from its 150 metres high, Notre-Dame de la Garde watches and protects Marseille people. Wherever you are in the city, you will see it, rising in the blue sky.
Its story starts in the 13th Century, when a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin is built on the top of the hill. Marseille sailors surviving shipwrecks make the place their main prayer church, abandoning Notre-Dame du Mont church.
Centuries after centuries, Notre-Dame de la Garde is enlarged to welcome pilgrims crowds. A small chapel, it becomes a priory, and finally a church.
A beautiful edifice inspired by Byzantine style, our « Bonne Mère “ was designed by the architect Henry Espérandieu. He is well known for Marseille other grand monuments plans, like the Palais Longchamp or the Major cathedral. Inside the basilica, you can admire a gorgeous décor with mosaics, or visit the austere crypt and the superior church.
But what makes the basilica so popular is the impressive statue of the Virgin Mary, erected in 1869. The statue is made of full brass and is almost 10 metres high and 10 000 kg!
Catch the bus 60 to reach the spot
OUR PHOTOS GALLERY
Tips and anecdotes
If you want to go to Notre Dame by foot and discover an funny street, take boulevard André Aune, at the angle of Cours Pierre Puget. 400 metres long with a hard slope (14%!), it’s a very good exercise!
Between 1892 and 1967, it was possible to reach Notre-Dame de la Garde in two minutes by taking the hydraulic funicular located at the end of rue Dragon. At the time, it got baptised « La machine du malin » (the devil’s machine) because of water and metallic noise producing during the ascent.
Did you know « La Bonne Mère » bronze statue could be visited during the second half of the 20th Century?
Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica is made of:
- A café-snack on the third floor
- A souvenirs shop with religious items
Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille
- From October to March : 7am-6.15 pm
- From April to September: 7am-7.15pm
HOW TO GET TO NOTRE-DAME DE LA GARDE?
- Notre-Dame de la Garde (line 60)