Notre Dame de la Garde

If Berlin is symbolized by the Brandenburg Gate and Rome's distinguishing landmark is the Colosseum, then the emblem of Marseille has got to be the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica. It was consecrated in 1864 and towers above the old harbor. There is hardly a spot in Marseille from where it cannot be seen, yet in spite of having been to Marseille several times, I had never made the climb up tp the Bonne Mère, as the Marseillais affectionately call it.

I managed to remedy this on January 30, 2017, when I took a train from Cannes to Marseille just to see and photograph the basilica. It is a bit unusual in that it consists of a lower and upper church. The lower church is above ground, yet also called the crypt. Part of it is completely windowless and therefore very dark, though one section actually has a few stained glass windows. Sometimes, the lighting (just candles) was a bit challenging, to say the least.

The upper church is more conventional: a nave crossed by a transept. There are magnificent mosaics and the choir features a beautiful silver Madonna. Stepping outside, one has a wonderful view of vast parts of Marseille and of the Frioul archipelago. For more photos of this beautiful city, check out our May 6, 2015 and April 21, 2016 pages.

Click on any image to see a larger (2100 x 1400 pixel) version!

'Notre Dame de la Garde' seen from the boat from Frioul to Marseille, April 22, 2016

Notre Dame de la Garde seen from the boat from Frioul to Marseille, April 22, 2016


Ascending the steps to the basilica View from the 'Montée de l'Oratoire' The statue of Virgin and Child

Ascending the steps to the basilica

View from the Montée de l'Oratoire

The statue of Virgin and Child


The basilica seen from the west The 'Passion of Christ' statue in front of the basilica

The basilica seen from the west

The Passion of Christ statue in front of the basilica


Looking north-northeast from the basilica Zooming in on the 'Saint Charles' railway station

Looking north-northeast from the basilica

Zooming in on the Saint Charles railway station


The Frioul archipelago seen from the basilica Looking across the old port to the commercial harbor

The Frioul archipelago seen from the basilica

Looking across the old port to the commercial harbor


Inside 'Notre Dame de la Garde' A closer look

Inside Notre Dame de la Garde

A closer look


The silver Madonna Looking up at the cupola of the transept The front of the basilica

The silver Madonna

Looking up at the cupola of the transept

The front of the basilica


Zooming in on a detail The middle one of the nave's three cupolas

Zooming in on a detail

The middle one of the nave's three cupolas


The mosaic floor Messages for the Madonna

The mosaic floor

Messages for the Madonna


Looking up at the ceiling of the nave Zooming in on the menorah The 11.2 meter (36.7 foot) gilded statue

Looking up at the ceiling of the nave

Zooming in on the menorah

The 11.2 meter (36.7 foot) gilded statue


The basilica from the west The transept from the outside Visitor

The basilica from the west

The transept from the outside

Visitor


The lower church (crypt) In the crypt

The lower church (crypt)

In the crypt


The Virgin with the Bouquet Stained glass window

The Virgin with the Bouquet

Stained glass window


Candles in the lower church Looking towards the Frioul archipelago

Candles in the lower church

Looking towards the Frioul archipelago


Looking down onto the 'Fort Saint-Jean' with the MuCEM behind it Looking towards the commercial harbor

Looking down onto the Fort Saint-Jean with the MuCEM behind it

Looking towards the commercial harbor


Marseille rooftops By Above the drawbridge

Marseille rooftops

Above the drawbridge


Unless otherwise noted, the photos on this page were taken on January 30, 2017.




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