Visible from the sea, the Cathédrale de la Major de Marseille is one of Marseille most emblematic monuments. Called « la Major » by the Marseillais, it has recently been renovated and its vaults host now trendy bars and restaurants where the Marseillais love to meet.
Its real name is “Cathédrale Sainte-Marie Majeure”, la Major is the only cathedral to be built after two centuries in France (in the 19th Century)! Its dimensions are quite big, thought to honour France first port and second city.
The cathedral construction works started in 1852 and ended in 1893, and they are part of Marseille edifices construction wave that took place during the Second Empire (along with the Docks, the Palais Longchamp and the Palais du Pharo).
Three different architects (among them Henry Espérandieu who did Notre-Dame de la Garde and the Palais Longchamp) worked on the cathedral plans. It is a unique edifice with an unusual look. If the inspiration is Byzantine, it mixes different Gothic and Roman elements: a very high portico framed by two towers, an impressive nave and a group of sanctuaries.
Inside, there is a rich diversity of elements: marble, porphyry, mosaics, statues… One statue represents the Christ with Sainte-Véronique. Apostles, Provence saints and a bronze statue of Monseigneur de Belsunce, Marseille’s bishop when the plague hit the city in 1720, surround another Christ representation.
Tips and anecdotes
The Cathédrale de la Major reflects Marseille diversity. Materials from other Mediterranean countries were brought to build it, like Florence green stone, Carrare white marble, onyx of Italy and Tunisia, or Venice mosaics.
Go to the Palais du Pharo, the Fort Saint-Jean or the MuCEM footbridge to get the best panorama of the cathedral and take some gorgeous photos.
Place de la Major, 13002 Marseille
- Summer : tuesday to sunday 10am-9pm
- Winter : tuesday to sunday 10am-6pm
HOW TO GET THERE?
- Station Quai du Port
- Station Boulevard du Littoral Mucem
- Station Joliette (ligne 2)
- Station Colbert (ligne 1)
- Station Jules Guesde (ligne 2)
- Station Joliette
- Station République / Dames
- Station Sadi Carnot