Marseilles - From Massalia to Vieux Port & Quai des Belges

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According to ancient legend, the city was founded when Greek sailors from Phocaia explored the Mediterranean coast. They landed on the coast of what is now Marseille on the day when a Celtic king named Nann was looking for a husband for his daughter Gyptis. Gyptis was to give a cup to the one she wished to marry from among all the young men gathered. Surprisingly, it was Protis, the leader of the newcomers, to whom she gave the vessel. The two married, and Greeks and Celts founded the settlement of Massalia together.

South of the city center is the Notre-Dame de la Garde, designed by Henri-Jacques Espérandieu in the neo-Byzantine style and built between 1853 and 1864 on the site of a medieval pilgrimage chapel. It is located on a 147 m high limestone cliff and, along with the Château d'If in front of the harbor, is the landmark of Marseille. “La Bonne Mère”, as it is popularly known, contains a monumental collection of votive images. The viewing platforms offer a spectacular view of the city.

In the center of the city lies the old harbor Vieux Port. There is a fish market at the Quai des Belges. Approximately halfway along the route to the Cours Saint-Louis is the Stock Exchange (Palais de la Bourse), where the Musée de la Marine et de l'Économie de Marseille is housed. The Musée des Docks Romains housed the harbor facilities from the first century of our era. The Musée d’Histoire de Marseille was built around some of the remains of the ancient port. From the Old Port, small transport ships and tourist boats sail to the Frioul Islands, consisting of the islands of Ratonneau, Pomègues and If with the Château d'If. Some ships sail past the Calanques to Cassis, about 15 kilometers away, with Europe's highest cliff.

Marseille Cathedral – an impressive building

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Marseille Cathedral – an impressive building

Right at the beginning of our stay in Marseille, we set off from our accommodation for an initial exploration tour towards the Vieux Port and passed the Marseille Cathedral, which was hard to miss.

Notre-Dame de la Garde – “The Good Mother”

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Notre-Dame de la Garde – “The Good Mother”

Today began with a decision that, in retrospect, turned out to be quite the right one: taking the tourist train up to the La Garde hill, which is only 161 meters high, where there is said to be such a perfect view of Marseilles and of course the St. Mary's pilgrimage church Notre Dame de la Garde is worth visiting.

Street Art – Colourful Quartier du Panier

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Street Art – Colorful Quartier du Panier

The pure curiosity of discovery led us to explore the narrow side streets at the Vieuw Port, some of which lead quite steeply and narrowly up into the old town of Marseille.

Marseille Commandery – opening of a Templar church?

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Marseille Commandery – opening of a Templar church?

On the way to the port of Marseille via the fortress, we saw the church of St. Laurent and right at the entrance two gentlemen dressed like Templars (although without a sword like the Knights of the Templar Order) received the seemingly few visitors.

Savon de Marseille – the soap makers of Marseille

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Savon de Marseille – the soap makers of Marseille

In France, more precisely in Marseille, there is a so-called purity law that does not apply to beer like in Germany, but also to a very important product: soap made from olive oil.

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