Monday, 25 March 2013

Piltup Corner: The Notre-Dame de la Garde

In the comments section recently, Piltup suggested Marseille's Notre-Dame de la Garde as a candidate for my Wonders list. I decided against it in the end, mostly because the church/cathedral genre of Wonders is an intensely competitive one, but he pointed me towards some photos he'd put up on the forum. I thought these, with his comments, were worth sharing here, as the Notre-Dame de la Garde is just the kind of thing I'm looking for and would very easily fit into my "Unofficial Wonders" category.

The original post can be found here (written, originally, January 29th 2013)

Last Sunday I went to Notre Dame de la Garde which is a basilica at the summit of Marseille's highest hill, the result being that it can be seen from quite far away and from many areas of the city.

The above is a photo I took some time ago, however last Sunday was a bit cloudy as you will see from the following pics. The current basilica was built in 1853-'64 in a neo-byzantine style (in honour of Marseille's Greek origins), but there has been a chapel on the site since the 13th century, later fortified in the 16th century under the orders of King Francis I; the current building sits on top of the old fortified base.

Because of the fortifications and its strategic position the basilica was the scene of very heavy fighting in August 1944; this tank ("Jeanne d'Arc") remains there to this day. The basilica is also covered in pock-marks from this event.

 Here you can see WWII-era pockmarks on the walls.

As I mentioned earlier the site offers views on the entire city below.

 The small island in the middle is If, where Alexandre Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo partially takes place (the main character escapes from the chateau d'If prison).

This is the interior:

The flag in the middle is that of General de Monsabert whose troops liberated the basilica:

Also there are plenty of ex-votos, here for example are model ships that mariners presented to the basilica as a thanks to Mary after surviving peril at sea:

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