"Marseille, 2,500 years of history" Top 5 Page for this destination Marseille by JLBG
Marseille Travel Guide: 784 reviews and 1,790 photos
Marseille is together with Lyon the second town of France with over 1,000,000 inhabitants (the city : 800,000)
The history of Marseille goes as far back as 600 BC. Sailors from the Greek Phocea, 2,600 years ago landed in a small inlet, the Lacydon. King Nann offered Gyptis, his daughter as a bride to Protis, the Greek's captain. The Greeks settled and created the new Phocea, called Massilia, while the old Phocea was destroyed in 545BC by the Persians.
Along the Vth and IVth century BC, several sailors from Marseille explored the world : Euthymènes sailed south, along the coasts of Africa, Pythéas sailed north and reached the polar circle. The Romans took progressively control of the region and Cesar, in charge of the Narbonnaise province since 58 BC, took Marseille in 49 BC. The harbor began to be built in the first century AD, the first cathedral in the Vth century.
The Provence region and Marseille were coveted and successively taken by the Visigoths of Alaric, by the Ostrogoths of Theodoric, by the Francs. It suffered several plague epidemics (590, 599, 650), was plundered in 736 by Charles Martel who united it to the kingdom of the Francs. The Sarrazins plundered it in 838 who more or less stayed there for 150 years. In 972, Guillaume le Libérateur ousted the Sarrazins. For centuries, the history of Marseille was torn apart between the Counts of Toulouse and the Counts of Barcelona. Following disputes between the citizens of the city and the bishop, the Popes several times excommunicated the town.
In 1252 Charles d'Anjou, later king of Naples and of Sicily becomes the ruler of the city. He is followed by Robert d'Anjou and by queen Jeanne. After a lot of turmoil, in 1482 the "États de Provence" (Provence Assembly) agree for the union between Provence and France. Beginning in 1488, Marseille became the main military harbor of the kingdom of France.
Plague devastated the city in 1580,1582, 1649-1650 and the last one in 1720.
The soap industry began in Marseille in 1577, the sugar industry in 1671.
On July 2nd, 1792, the "fédérés" of Marseille walked to Paris for the defense of the Revolution. On the way, they sing a war song written by Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg. It is soon named "La Marseillaise"
The railway from Paris to Marseille was finished and worked in 1857.
In 1888 the famous Canebière avenue was light by electricity. It is on this avenue that in 1934 king Alexander of Yougoslavia was slaughtered together with Louis Barthou, French minister of foreign affairs.
In 1967 : Digging behind the "Bourse de Commerce" reveals the ancient harbor. In 1993 : Digging under place Jules Verne to build a subterranean parking, allows discovering 2 ships 2500 years ago. A museum was built…
OK, Marseille is 2,500 years old and has a famous football team but it is worth the visit ? I will let Joseph Méry, a citizen from Marseille answer, as he wrote in 1860 : "when Marseille has not stripped herself of her ornaments, she has been spoiled by others. Marseille is an antic city that has no antics, a beautiful city that has no beauties. She has sailed 2,500 years across history and has saved nothing but her name, as Argo boat did". This can be said in fewer words : Marseille is an antic city without any antiques.
Actually, this is a bit exaggerated, but it is true to say that Marseille is a pleasant city to live in, is a pleasant city to visit but it has more an atmosphere than great sights to visit. However, I hope that you will enjoy this page on Marseille as I have discovered it.
- Pros:a 2,500 years old city with a long history
- Cons:few remaining of the past
- In a nutshell:a nice place to live in
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