Abbaye Saint-Victor

Abbey in Marseille

Abbaye Saint-Victor, Marseille France
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Philippe Alès

South of the Old Port, perched above the sea, stands the historic Abbaye Saint Victor, a site that has been spiritually significant since around 415 AD. Tradition holds that the abbey was established by the monk John Cassian, who is said to have founded separate monasteries for men and women across the old harbor. These were later destroyed by Saracen raiders in the 8th or 9th centuries. Monastic life was revived in 977 and flourished until it was despoiled of its treasures in 1794 during the aftermath of the French Revolution.

Over the years, the abbey has served various roles—a warehouse, a prison, and barracks—before being restored and designated a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Visitors to the abbey today can descend into the ancient crypt, where tombs of saints, bishops, and even ancient pagan sarcophagi lie, all set against a backdrop of soft, ambient music. Climbing to the crenelated towers offers breathtaking views of the harbor and the sea, with strategic positioning near Fort Saint Nicolas that allowed monks to spot incoming Saracens and Vikings.

An annual highlight is the Candlemas pilgrimage. It begins at dawn with a procession from the Old Port to the abbey, where the black Madonna, cloaked in green, is presented to the public and blessed by the Bishop.

Why You Should Visit: The abbey, particularly its crypt, transports visitors deep into Europe’s formative past.

Tip: Don’t miss the chance to explore the remarkable crypt for a modest fee—it’s like stepping into another world!

The Abbaye Saint-Victor appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Marseille!

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Visiting Abbaye Saint-Victor


Daily 09:00 – 18:00


€2 to visit crypts

Address: Abbaye Saint-Victor, Place Saint-Victor, Marseille, France
Duration: 1 hours

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