Interesting facts about Marseille


Marseille is a city in the south of France.

It is the capital of Bouches-du-Rhône département and also the administrative and commercial capital of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, one of France’s fastest growing régions.

The city is located on the Mediterranean coast near the mouth of the Rhône.

As of October 2019, the population of Marseille is about 880,000 people. It is the 2nd largest city in France after Paris.

Marseille covers a total area of 240 square kilometers (93 square miles).


The city has a history of vigorous independence asserted against central authority in a variety of forms.

Around 600 BC Greek mariners founded Massilia, a trading post, at what is now Marseille’s Vieux Port.

It retained its status as a free city even after falling to Julius Caesar’s troops in the 1st century BC, and after centuries of decline it was revived and allowed great independence under the local control of the viscounts of Provence in the 10th–14th centuries.

After Provence joined the Kingdom of France in the 15th century, Marseille retained a separate administration and continually engaged in spirited revolt against kings or governments that threatened its liberties.

marseille history

It was for this reason that in 1800, when France was divided into the present administrative départements, Marseille was only reluctantly granted its status as capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône.

The Industrial Revolution and establishment of the French Empire during the 19th century allowed for further expansion of the city, although it was captured and heavily damaged by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Today, Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France and one of the major ports of the Mediterranean Sea.


Notre-Dame de la Garde is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France, and the city’s best-known symbol. The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage, it was the most visited site in Marseille. It was built on the foundations of an ancient fort at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 149 meters (489 feet) limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille.

Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France, located in Marseille. It has been a basilica minor since 1896. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Marseille.

marseille cathedral

The Abbey of Saint-Victor is a former abbey that was founded during the late Roman period in Marseille. It is named after the local soldier saint and martyr, Victor of Marseilles. The abbey is certainly one of the oldest buildings in Marseille. It was founded in the 5th century nearby tombs of martyrs, including Saint Victor of Marseilles. Its crypts contain a collection of sarcophagi from the third to the 6th century AD which makes it a very popular Christian art museum.

Abbey of Saint Victor

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations is a national museum located in Marseille, France. It was inaugurated on 7 June 2013 as part of Marseille-Provence 2013, a year when Marseille was designated as the European Capital of Culture. In 2015, it won the Council of Europe Museum Prize.

museum of european and mediterranean civilisations

The Vieux Port or Old Port is the birthplace of Marseilles. This is where the city began as a Greek port around 600 BC. The Old Port is a thriving harbour for fishing boats, pleasure yachts and tourist boats. Guarded by the forts St-Jean and St-Nicolas, both sides of the port are dotted with bars, brasseries and cafes, with more to be found around place Thiars and cours Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves, where the action continues until late.

old port of marseille

Le Panier (Old Town) is situated on a hillside above the Old Port , this colorful neighborhood is the historic center and cultural heart of Marseille. Le Panier is Marseille’s oldest quarter, inhabited since antiquity when the ancient Greeks settled here around 600 BC. Le Panier is named after a hotel called “Le Logis du Panier” which was based here in the 17th century.

le panier

La Vieille Charité is a former almshouse, now functioning as a museum and cultural centre, situated in the heart of Le Panier. Constructed between 1671 and 1749 in the Baroque style to the designs of the architect Pierre Puget, it comprises four ranges of arcaded galleries in three storeys surrounding a space with a central chapel surmounted by an ovoid dome.

La Vieille Charité

The Palais Longchamp is a monument in the 4th arrondissement of Marseille. This charming little palace opened its doors in 1869 to celebrate the end of the difficulties caused by the lack of water in the city during this time. In the nineteenth century, drought was a problem that needed to be resolved. This was the reason why it was decided to build an engineering project to transport the water from the Durance River to Marseille. It took more than 30 years of work to build a complex network of 85 kilometres of underground canals and pipes that would bring drinking water to everybody.

palais longchamp

Parc Borély is a public municipal park in Marseille,. It is classified by the Ministry of Culture as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France. The park is 17 hectares (42 acres) in size. It adjoins the Jardin botanique E.M. Heckel.

parc borély

Marseille has the oldest chamber of commerce in France, established in 1599.

Marseille was one of the first places that early Christianity landed in the West. A misty layer of legend surrounds the exact date of Christianity’s arrival – and the question of who, exactly, brought it.

Marseille is officially the sunniest major city in France with over 2,900 hours of sunshine while the average sunshine in the country is around 1,950 hours.

The city was European Capital of Culture in 2013 and European Capital of Sport in 2017.