Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

Cathedral in Marseille

Notre Dame De La Garde, Marseille
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ajay K

Also known as Cathedrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille, this site comprises two distinct cathedrals, old and new. In the late 19th century, Napoleon III, Emperor of France, chose to replace the 12th-century Provencal Romanesque cathedral known as “Vielle Major.” Most of it was demolished, except for the choir and a section of the nave, preserved after public outcry halted further destruction.

The new cathedral, “Nouvelle Major,” is a grand Romanesque-Byzantine Revival building that dominates the waterfront. It stretches 469 feet in length, with the main cupola rising 231 feet high and has a capacity to accommodate around 3,000 people.

Situated on Plaza Major, the facade features a mix of stone tiles that create horizontal color bands, playfully nicknamed “the Pajamas” by locals. Inside, the cathedral boasts Carrara marble, Tunisian onyx, and Venetian mosaics.

Only fragments remain of the old 12th-century structure, featuring a chancel, an apse with smaller side apses, and a cylindrical vault topped with octagonal and heptagonal cupolas over the transepts.

Why You Should Visit: This magnificent cathedral is a testament to the historical grandeur of Imperial France, embodying power and majesty. It stands as a bold reminder of a regal past, and it offers free admission, making it an essential stop for anyone visiting Marseille.

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Marseille!

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Visiting Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde


Daily 07:00 – 18:00



Address: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, Marseille, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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