Porte d'Aix is a triumphal arch in Marseille, in the south of France, marking the old entry point to the city on the road from Aix-en-Provence. The classical design by Michel-Robert Penchaud was inspired by the triumphal arches of the Roman Empire; the Porte d’Aix was conceived in 1784 to honour Louis XIV and to commemorate the Peace of Paris that ended the American war of independence. Following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814-15, the project was resumed in 1823, now to commemorate French victories in the Spanish Expedition, notably at the Battle of Trocadero, August 31, 1823, it was completed in 1839, with a more general theme of victory. In 1660 Louis XIV descended on Marseille to bring order to a city in political turmoil, his troops blasted a hole in the old thirteenth century ramparts that ran the length of the rue d'Aix between the city gates of "Porte Royale" and "Porte d'Aix". Part of the subsequent reorganisation of Marseille involved not only an increased military presence, demolition of the old ramparts, new royal shipyards and seaward fortifications, but a new governing body drawn from the merchant class, charged with making plans to expand and beautify the city.
From an early stage these plans included the reconstruction of the Porte Royale and the removal of the unsightly overground aqueduct in the place d'Aix at the end of the rue d'Aix: the original porte d'Aix was formed by the arches of this aqueduct. Numerous projects for city plans were proposed, including one by Pierre Puget, placing a ceremonial Porte Royale in the place d'Aix. In 1784 the city of Marseille decided to use the profits generated by the sale of the royal shipyards to erect a royal triumphal arch in the place d'Aix "to the glory of Louis XIV and to commemorate the peace gloriously achieved, putting an end to the war of independence in America". Delayed by local officialdom, the project was abandoned during the French Revolution and Napoleonic rule. Following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, the project was resumed in 1823 by the mayor of Marseille, the Marquis de Montgrand, under royal charter from Louis XVIII; the first stone was laid in 1825 by the Marquis de Montgrand with a dedication to the royal family.
The aqueduct was demolished three years to clear the place d'Aix. The project, was to suffer yet again from changes in regime in France. Although the main construction work started under Charles X, it was only completed under Louis-Philippe in 1839. Michel-Robert Penchaud, the architect of the monument took as his model the Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra in Rome, although elements are present from other Roman triumphal arches such as the Arches of Trajan and the Arch of Constantine. Responsibility for the stonework was put in the hands of the Italian mason Gaétan Cantini, father of the sculptor Jules Cantini; the ornamental sculpture was entrusted to the Parisian sculptor Antoine-André Marneuf who took his inspiration from the Roman triumphal arch at Orange. The main facades depict the battles of Fleurus, Héliopolis and Austerlitz; the two bas-reliefs under the portico depict the call to the defense of liberty and the return of the victorious heroes. Eight giant allegorical statues 3m high, were placed in the attic representing the Virtues.
On the north facade David d'Angers completed Devotion, Prudence and Fortitude in 1835. Because the stone was not properly weather-proof, the statues started to erode. In 1921 they were repaired using reinforced concrete. In restoration of the arch in 2003, only four of the statues were kept, those of David d'Angers, on the north facade; because of its location, the triumphal arch is a monument, undeservedly overlooked. Composed of a single arch and an attic supported by four corinthian columns, its harmony is inspired by the monuments of antiquity, its height and width are identical, just under 18m, fitting it with a square, one of the "perfect" geometric forms. It is easy to reach from two metro stations Jules Guesde and Colbert and is in walking distance from the main railway station, Gare de Marseille Saint Charles. De la porte royale à la porte d'Aix: Projets successifs de l'Arc de Triomphe à la Porte d'Aix, à Marseille, Musée d'Histoire de Marseille, 1989, 55 pages, ISBN 2-907437-01-1 Arc de Triomphe de la Porte d'Aix French history in French
The Musée Cantini is a museum in Marseilles, open to the public since 1936. The museum specializes in modern art paintings from the first half of the twentieth century; the musée Cantini building was built in 1694 for the Compagnie du Cap Nègre. The company ran into financial difficulties and the building was sold in 1709 to Dominique de Montgrand great-grandfather of Jean-Baptiste-Jacques-Guy-Thérèse de Montgrand, future Mayor of Marseille; the building was sold to Louis Joseph Chaudoin in 1801 and to Dieudonné Bernadac in 1816. In 1888, it was acquired by Jules Cantini who bequeathed it to the City of Marseille in 1916, with the stipulation that it was to become a museum of decorative arts; the museum was opened in 1936. The Musée Cantini has one of the largest public collections in France of the 1900-1960 period. A wide variety of artists are represented, including Charles Camoin, Raoul Dufy, Albert Gleizes, Henri Laurens, Wassily Kandinsky, František Kupka, Jean Hélion, Alberto Magnelli, Amédée Ozenfant, Max Ernst, André Masson, Simon Simon-Auguste, Victor Brauner, Joan Miró, Jean Arp.
Paul Signac, La Corne d'or, Matin, 1907 et Entrée du Port de Marseille, 1918 André Derain, Pinède, Cassis, 1907 Raoul Dufy, Landscapes of l'Estaque, 1908 Albert Gleizes, L'Ecolier and Etude pour Femme assise, c.1920 Emile Othon Friesz, Auguste Chabaud, Charles Camoin, Alfred Lombard Oskar Kokoschka, Le port de Marseille, 1925 Jean Hélion, Composition verticale, 1936 Alberto Magnelli, Pierres n°2, 1932 Jeanne-Laure Garcin, Les Hommes et la machine, 1932 Julio Gonzalez, Danseuse à la palette, vers 1934 Wassily Kandinsky, František Kupka, Jacques Villon... Max Ernst, Monument aux oiseaux, 1927 Jacques Hérold, Les Têtes, 1939 André Masson, Antille, 1943, Le Terrier, 1946 Jean Arp, Genèse, 1944 Joseph Cornell, Flat sand box, vers 1950 Roberto Matta, Contra vosotros asesinos de palomas, 1950 Wifredo Lam, Francis Picabia, Victor Brauner... Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme souriante, 1943. Jean-Charles Blais, s.t, huile sur bois et collage, 1986. In 2009 the museum was exhibiting Edgar Degas's pastel on monotype Les Choristes, on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
It was stolen at the end of the year. Régis Bertrand, Lucien Tirone, Le guide de Marseille, édition la manufacture, Besançon, 1991, ISBN 2-7377-0276-3 Musée Cantini
Notre-Dame de la Garde
Notre-Dame de la Garde is a Catholic basilica in Marseille and the city's best-known symbol. The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage, it is the most visited site in Marseille, it was built on the foundations of an ancient fort at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 149 m limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille. Construction of the basilica lasted for 21 years, it was an enlargement of a medieval chapel, but was transformed into a new structure at the request of Father Bernard, the chaplain. The plans were developed by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu, it was consecrated while still unfinished on June 5, 1864. The basilica consists of a lower church or crypt in the Romanesque style, carved from the rock, an upper church of Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics. A square 41 m bell tower topped by a 12.5 m belfry supports a monumental 11.2 m statue of the Madonna and Child made of copper gilded with gold leaf. An extensive restoration from 2001 to 2008 included work on mosaics damaged by candle smoke, green limestone from Gonfolina, corroded by pollution, stonework, hit by bullets during the Liberation of France.
The restoration of the mosaics was entrusted to Marseille artist Michel Patrizio, whose workmen were trained in Friuli, north of Venice, Italy. The tiles were supplied by the workshop in Venice; the rocky outcrop upon which the basilica would be built, is an urgonian limestone peak dating from the Barremian and rising to a height of 162 metres. Due to its height and proximity to the coast, the hill became an important stronghold and lookout point, as well as a landmark for sailing. In 1302 Charles II of Anjou ordered one of his ministers to set beacons along the Mediterranean coast of Provence. One of these beacon sites was the hill of Notre-Dame de la Garde. In 1214 maître Pierre, a priest of Marseille, was inspired to build a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the hill known as La Garde, which belonged to the abbey of Saint-Victor; the abbot granted him permission to cultivate a garden and build a chapel. The chapel, completed four years appears in an June 18, 1218 papal bull by Pope Honorius III listing the possessions of the abbey.
After maître Pierre died in 1256, Notre-Dame de la Garde became a priory. The prior of the sanctuary was one of four claustral priors of Saint-Victor. From the time the chapel was founded, surviving wills show bequests in its favour. Sailors who survived shipwrecks gave thanks and deposited ex-votos at Notre-Dame of the Sea in the church of Notre-Dame-du-Mont. Towards the end of the 16th century they began going to Notre-Dame de la Garde instead; the first chapel was replaced at the beginning of the 15th century by a larger building with a richly equipped chapel dedicated to Saint Gabriel. Charles II d'Anjou mentioned a guardpost in the 15th century, but the present basilica was built on the foundations of a 16th-century fort erected by Francis I of France to resist the 1536 siege of Marseille by the Emperor Charles V during the Italian War of 1536–38. On January 3, 1516 Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis I of France, his wife, Queen Claude of France, daughter of Louis XII, went to the south of France to meet the young king, right after from his victory at Marignan.
On January 7, 1516 they visited the sanctuary. On January 22, 1516 Francis accompanied them to the chapel as well; the king noted during his visit. The need to reinforce its defenses became more obvious in 1524 after constable Charles III, Duke of Bourbon and emperor Charles Quint lay siege to the city and took it. François I built two forts: one on the island of If, which became the famous Chateau d'If, the other at the top of La Garde, which included the chapel; this is the only known example of a military fort sharing space with a sanctuary open to the public. The Chateau d'If was finished in 1531, while Notre-Dame de la Garde was not completed until 1536, when it was used to help repel the troops of Charles Quint, it was built using stone from Cap Couronne, as well as materials from buildings outside the ramparts of the demolished city to keep them from providing shelter to enemy troops. Among these was the monastery of the Mineurs brothers where Louis of Toulouse was buried near the Cours Belsunce and Cours Saint-Louis.
The fort was a triangle with two sides of 75 metres and a third of 35 metres. This rather modest fort remains visible on a spur west of the basilica, restored in 1993 to its original state when a 1930 watch tower was removed. Above the door can be seen a damaged escutcheon of François I, the arms of France, three fleurs-de-lys with a salamander below. Nearby, to the right, is a rounded stone weathered by time which once represented the lamb of John the Apostle with its banner. In 1585 Hubert de Garde de Vins, chief of the Catholic League of Provence, sought to seize Marseille and combine forces with Louis de La Motte Dariès, the second consul of Marseille, Claude Boniface, captain of the Blanquerie neighborhood. On the night of April 9, 1585 Dariès occupied La Garde, but the attack on Marseille failed, leading to his accomplice, Boniface. In 1591 Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy, tried to seize the Abbey of Saint Victor, a stronghouse near the port, he charged governor of Notre-Dame de la Garde, with seizing the abbey.
On November 16, 1591 Méolhon did so but it was retaken by Charles de Casaulx, first consul of Marseille. in 1594. He sent two priests and Cabot, to celebrate mass in the chapel
The Château Pastré known as the Chateau de Montredon, is a nineteenth-century building in the suburb of Montredon to the south of Marseille, France. The property of a wealthy merchant family, as of 2012 it housed the Faïence pottery museum, the Musée de la Faïence de Marseille; the grounds of the chateau are a public park. Eugène Pastré and his wife Céline de Beaulincourt-Marle belonged to a wealthy family of Marseille shipowners and merchants. Between 1836 and 1853 the Pastré family accumulated 120 hectares of land between Pointe Rouge and the Grotte Rolland in the south of Marseille, which they made into a park; the natural vegetation would have been scrub, Aleppo pines, oaks and juniper. Before the Canal de Marseille was constructed to this point, the family had to go to great lengths to obtain water, with which they irrigated and created lawns in the lower levels with gardens of vines and orchards of almonds and apricot; the Pastrés had three large houses built in the park between 1845 and 1865: the Château Estrangin, Château Pastré and Château Sanderval.
The Parisian architect Jean-Charles Danjoy designed the Château Pastré, the largest of the buildings, completed in 1862. The three-story building was designed to meet the needs of its owners for a place where they could hold entertainments for many people; the Nouvelle Revue in its gossip section Chronique de L'Élégance in 1884 described a play being presented at the home of Mme Pastre. The chateau is located between the hills of Marseilleveyre and the Mediterranean Sea, with large windows looking out over the park; the exterior design is warm. Jean Danjoy chose to design a reinterpretation of a building from the Louis XIII period. In the facade he blended bricks from Marseille with blonde stone from Arles; these meet in rhythmic counter-curves. Eugène and Céline's son Ange André Pastré was made a Roman Count, he married Claire Goldschmidt around 1885, they had four children: Odette, Jean André and Louis. Jean Pastré was born on 2 December 1888 in Marseille, inherited the title of "Count". In 1918 he married Louise Double.
The couple had three children. Jean Pastré played on France's polo team in the 1924 Summer Olympic games, he died in Paris on 29 June 1960 at the age of 71. Their daughter Nadia Pastré helped in the escape lines for Allied prisoners during World War II. Countess Lily Pastré was born Louise Double de Saint Lambert in 1891, her mother Véra Magnan was Russian, was granddaughter of Bernard Pierre Magnan, a Marshal of France. Her father was son of Léon Double and Marie Prat. Marie Prat was the daughter of the co-founder of Noilly Prat. Countess Lily Pastre inherited the Noilly Prat vermouth fortune. After Countess Lily and Jean Pastré divorced in 1940, she continued to live at the Chateau de Montredon, she turned it into a refuge for artists fleeing the Nazi regime in occupied France, of whom many were Jewish. Lily Pastré remained on good terms with the authorities, invited them to concerts that she arranged at the chateau. At the same time, she was sheltering Jewish composers and musicians, of whom forty stayed at the chateau at different times.
Norbert Glanzberg, who played piano for Édith Piaf, was hidden at the chateau at the singer's request. The Spanish cellist Pablo Casals and the American entertainer Josephine Baker both stayed at the chateau for a while, as did the pianist Clara Haskil. On 27 July 1942 Pastre arranged for a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the chateau. A young Christian Dior made the costumes from the draperies of the chateau; the Orchèstre National de la Radiodiffusion Française, conducted by Manuel Rosenthal, provided music. The Germans occupied part of the chateau, they killed some of the guests found at the chateau. After the war, Countess Lily contributed to the foundation of the Aix-en-Provence Festival of music and arts, she died in 1974, having spent her entire fortune helping much of it during the war. Between 1966 and 1987, the city of Marseille bought all of the property, including the Château Pastré, Château Sanderval and the bastide Clary, it had the Château Pastré restored. Since May 1995, it has housed the Faïence Museum, displays more than 1,500 pieces crafted during a period spanning more than 7000 years.
Marseille has been chosen as the "European cultural capital" for 2013. As part of the preparation for this, the government plans to transfer the Faïence Museum to the Château Borély, which will be adapted for the planned Museum of Decorative Arts and Fashion; the grounds are now a public park known as the Campagne Pastré. Of this, 12 hectares are formally laid out with lawns and two artificial lakes, while 100 hectares have more natural vegetation; the central avenue from the entrance to the chateau is over 900 metres long. Apart from the lakes, the park includes canal areas and hiking trails; the gardens are decorated with statues. From a steep hill, visitors have a spectacular view of Marseille; the entire forested area of the park is part of the Calanques World Heritage Site. Notes Citations Sources
Bouches-du-Rhône is a department in Southern France named after the mouth of the river Rhône. It is the most populous department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region with 2,019,717 inhabitants in 2016, its INSEE and postal code is 13. Marseille is prefecture. Bouches-du-Rhône is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790, it was created from the western part of the former province of Provence and the principalities of Orange and Lambesc. It lost part of its territory in 1793, including Orange and Apt, when the Vaucluse department was created. Following its creation, the department was strongly and supportive of the French Revolution, containing 90 "Jacobin Clubs" by 1794, it was noteworthy that more than 50% of the priests in the department accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which in effect subordinated the church to the government. During the ascendancy of the Communist Party in the twentieth century election results indicated that support for left-wing politics remained strong in the department, in the northern suburbs of Marseille.
The history of the area is linked to that of Provence. Marseille has been an important harbour since before Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul; the Roman presence left numerous monuments across the department. Notable people born in the area include Romantic painter Camille Roqueplan and his brother and theatre director Nestor Roqueplan; the department is part of the current region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is surrounded by the departments of Gard on the west, Vaucluse on the north, Var on the east, by the Mediterranean Sea on the south; the Rhône river delta forms a vast swampy wetlands area called the Camargue in the southwestern part of the department. Bouches-du-Rhône is bordered by the Rhône to the Durance to the north; the Rhône divides into the Grand Petit Rhône south of Arles. The principal mountains of the department are the Sainte-Baume massif, Mont Sainte-Victoire, the Garlaban massif and Alpilles massif; the department's prefecture and largest city, contains a major industrial harbour and serves as France's largest commercial port.
The Bouches-du-Rhône department is urban, with 28 towns having a population of more than 10,000 as of 2008. Marseille, population 853,000 is the departmental and regional capital Aix-en-Provence, population 142,743, subprefecture, a university town and seat of the regional Court of Appeals Arles, population 52,729, sous-préfecture and site of an ancient Roman city Martigues, population 46,471, the leading city for the European petrochemical industry Aubagne, population 46,093, birthplace of Provençal author Marcel Pagnol Istres, population 42,603, sous-préfecture and home to a military airbase Salon-de-Provence, population 41,411, the home city of 16th-century soothsayer Nostradamus Vitrolles, population 36,610 Marignane, population 33,909, site of Marseille Provence Airport La Ciotat, population 33,790 Miramas, population 25,632, regional railway hub Gardanne, population 21,121 Les Pennes-Mirabeau, population 20,187 Allauch, population 18,728 Port-de-Bouc, population 17,207 Fos-sur-Mer, population 15,448 Châteaurenard, population 14,817 Berre-l'Étang, population 13,881 Bouc-Bel-Air, population 13,437 Tarascon, population 13,340 Rognac, population 12,195 Auriol, population 11,969 Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, population 11,564 Plan-de-Cuques, population 11,096 Saint-Martin-de-Crau, population 10,979 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, population 10,662 Septèmes-les-Vallons, population 10,481 Trets, population 10,239 Rivers include: The Rhône, which forms the border with the Gard department The Durance, which forms the border with the Vaucluse department The Arc The HuveauneLakes include: Étang de Berre Étang de Vaccarès, in the CamargueMountains include: Alpilles mountain range Calanques between Marseille and La Ciotat Corniche des Crêtes Garlaban Mont Puget Montagne Sainte-Victoire Sainte-Baume massif The department of Bouches-du-Rhône is known for its seismic activity: the zone II townships of Lambesc Peyrolles-en-Provence and Salon-de-Provence are the most exposed.
Areas Ib including the cantons of Aix-en-Provence, Trets Eyguières, Berre-Pond, Istres-North and South, Ia areas including the other cantons in the district of Aix-en-Provence, Arles-East, Châteaurenard, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Martigues-East and Roquevaire-West, are least exposed. Zone 0 includes the rest of the department. Since the Bouches-du-Rhône department is one of the most populous and diverse departments, it has long been the scene of fierce political battles; the development of the Marseille-Fos Port, the relationship maintained between France and its colonial empire, the industry around coal mining in Provence, significant immigration coming from Italy, from the end the nineteenth century and during the period between the two wars are all factors that led to the emergence of a large and militant working class. From the late nineteenth century, the socialist movement gained influence, such as by in 1881 by the election of the first socialist member of France, Clovis Hugues. Rural areas, in the region of Aix have tended to favor the influence of right-wing parties, including monarchists
The Unité d'habitation is a modernist residential housing design principle developed by Le Corbusier, with the collaboration of painter-architect Nadir Afonso. The concept formed the basis of several housing developments designed by him throughout Europe with this name; the most famous of these developments is located in south Marseille. Unité d'habitation buildings were designed by French architect Le Corbusier. In 1920, Corbusier started to develop the type apartment which became influential in 20th century modernism and contemporary residential design in Europe; the first full-scale models were built in Paris and Marseille during the planning of the first high rise concrete structure in the 1940s. During completion of the Marseille building a few model apartments were completed and furnished for visitors as an exhibition. In the 1980s a team form ETH Zurich surveyed several apartments in Marseille and a several full-scale models were constructed for exhibitions in Paris, Karlsuhe and New York.
In 1986 a full-scale model was constructed at the Badischer Kunstverein by Gernot Bayne based on the survey of Ruggero Tropeano. The same model was on display at Centre Pompidou. A full scale original Kitchen and other parts of the apartments are stored and displayed several museum collections around the world; the Cuisine Atelier Le Corbusier, type 1, designed by Charlotte Perriand in cooperation with the Atelier Le Corbusier. A total of 321 apartments of the Unité were furnished with this kitchen; the Museum of Modern Art acquired a complete kitchen in 2013. In 2007 students built a structurally correct full-scale model inside the Museum Cité in Paris. Unité d'habitation model apartments have been rebuilt in exhibitions or renovated in their historic style; the first and most famous of these buildings known as Cité radieuse and, informally, as La Maison du Fada, is located in Marseille and was built between 1947 and 1952. One of Le Corbusier's most famous works, it proved enormously influential and is cited as the initial inspiration of the Brutalist architectural style and philosophy.
The building is constructed in béton brut, as the hoped-for steel frame proved too expensive in light of post-War shortages. In July 2016, the Unité in Marseille and several other works by Le Corbusier were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is designated a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture. It was damaged by fire on February 9, 2012; the Marseille building, developed with Corbusier's designers Shadrach Woods and George Candilis, comprises 337 apartments arranged over twelve stories, all suspended on large piloti. The building incorporates shops with an architectural bookshop, a rooftop gallery, educational facilities, a hotel, open to the public, a gastronomic restaurant, Le Ventre de l'architecte. Inside, corridors run through the centre of the long axis of every third floor of the building, with each apartment lying on two levels, stretching from one side of the building to the other, with a balcony. Corbusier's design was criticised by US architect Peter Blake for having small children's rooms and some of those rooms lacked windows.
Unlike many of the inferior system-built blocks it inspired, which lack the original's generous proportions, communal facilities and parkland setting, the Unité is popular with its residents and is now occupied by upper middle-class professionals. The flat roof is designed as a communal terrace with sculptural ventilation stacks, a running track, a shallow paddling pool for children. There is a children's art school in the atelier; the roof, where a number of theatrical performances have taken place, underwent renovation in 2010 and since 2013 it hosts an exhibition center called the MaMo. The roof has unobstructed views of the Marseille. According to Peter Blake, members of CIAM held a "great celebration" for the building's opening on the roof on a summer evening in 1953. "Architects from every part of the world attended", including Walter Gropius, who said at the event: "Any architect who does not find this building beautiful, had better lay down his pencil." In the block's planning, the architect drew on his study of the Soviet communal housing project, the Narkomfin Building in Moscow, designed by the architect Moisei Ginzburg and completed in 1932.
Le Corbusier's utopian city living design was repeated in four more buildings with this name and a similar design: Unité d'Habitation of Nantes-Rezé in 1955, Unité d'Habitation of Berlin Westend in 1957, Unité d'Habitation of Briey in 1963, Unité d'Habitation of Firminy-Vert in 1965. All of them were oriented with the building's long axis running north–south, so the units face east-and-west; the replacement material influenced the Brutalist movement, the building inspired several housing complexes including the Alton West estate in Roehampton and Park Hill in Sheffield. These buildings have attracted a great deal of criticism. Other, more successful, manifestations of the Unité include Chamberlin and Bon's Barbican Estate, Gordon Tait's Samuda Estate, Isle of Dogs, Ernő Goldfinger's Balfron Tower, Trellick Tower, all in London. Another valuable complex inspired with the idea was Za Żelazną Bramą Housing Estate in Warsaw, Poland; the Reserve Square Complex in Cleveland, Ohio, built 1969–1973 was influenced by Le Corbusier's project.
The Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis, which opened in 1973 used multi-colored panels and brutalist design, as influenced by the project. A building in Vukovarska street in Z
Marseille is the second-largest city of France. The main city of the historical province of Provence, it nowadays is the prefecture of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, it is located on French Riviera coast near the mouth of the Rhône. The city covers an area of 241 km2 and had a population of 852,516 in 2012, its metropolitan area, which extends over 3,173 km2 is the third-largest in France after Paris and Lyon, with a population of 1,831,500 as of 2010. Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Massalia, Marseille was an important European trading centre and remains the main commercial port of the French Republic. Marseille is now France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast and the largest port for commerce and cruise ships; the city was European Capital of Culture in 2013 and European Capital of Sport in 2017. It is home to Aix-Marseille University. Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris and the centre of the third-largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon.
To the east, starting in the small fishing village of Callelongue on the outskirts of Marseille and stretching as far as Cassis, are the Calanques, a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets. Farther east still are the city of Toulon and the French Riviera. To the north of Marseille, beyond the low Garlaban and Etoile mountain ranges, is the 1,011 m Mont Sainte Victoire. To the west of Marseille is the former artists' colony of l'Estaque; the airport lies to the north west of the city at Marignane on the Étang de Berre. The city's main thoroughfare stretches eastward from the Old Port to the Réformés quarter. Two large forts flank the entrance to the Old Port—Fort Saint-Nicolas on the south side and Fort Saint-Jean on the north. Farther out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago which comprises four islands, one of which, If, is the location of Château d'If, made famous by the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo; the main commercial centre of the city intersects with the Canebière at Rue St Ferréol and the Centre Bourse.
The centre of Marseille has several pedestrianised zones, most notably Rue St Ferréol, Cours Julien near the Music Conservatory, the Cours Honoré-d'Estienne-d'Orves off the Old Port and the area around the Hôtel de Ville. To the south east of central Marseille in the 6th arrondissement are the Prefecture and the monumental fountain of Place Castellane, an important bus and metro interchange. To the south west are the hills of the 7th and 8th arrondissements, dominated by the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde. Marseille's main railway station—Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles—is north of the Centre Bourse in the 1st arrondissement; the city has a hot-summer mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm to hot dry summers. December and February are the coldest months, averaging temperatures of around 12 °C during the day and 4 °C at night. July and August are the hottest months, averaging temperatures of around 28–30 °C during the day and 19 °C at night in the Marignane airport but in the city near the sea the average high temperature is 27 °C in July.
Marseille is the sunniest major city in France with over 2,900 hours of sunshine while the average sunshine in country. It is the driest major city with only 512 mm of precipitation annually thanks to the Mistral, a cold, dry wind originating in the Rhône Valley that occurs in winter and spring and which brings clear skies and sunny weather to the region. Less frequent is the Sirocco, a hot, sand-bearing wind, coming from the Sahara Desert. Snowfalls are infrequent; the hottest temperature was 40.6 °C on 26 July 1983 during a great heat wave, the lowest temperature was −14.3 °C on 13 February 1929 during a strong cold wave. Marseille was founded circa 600 BC as the Greek colony of Massalia and populated by settlers from Phocaea, it became the preeminent Greek polis in the Hellenized region of southern Gaul. The city-state sided with the Roman Republic against Carthage during the Second Punic War, retaining its independence and commercial empire throughout the western Mediterranean as Rome expanded into Western Europe and North Africa.
However, the city lost its independence following the Roman Siege of Massilia in 49 BC, during Caesar's Civil War, in which Massalia sided with the exiled faction at war with Julius Caesar. Marseille continued to prosper as a Roman city, becoming an early center of Christianity during the Western Roman Empire; the city maintained its position as a premier maritime trading hub after its capture by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD, although the city went into decline following the sack of 739 AD by the forces of Charles Martel. It became part of the County of Provence during the 10th century, although its renewed prosperity was curtailed by the Black Death of the 14th century and sack of the city by the Crown of Aragon in 1423; the city's fortunes rebounded with the ambitious building projects of René of Anjou, Count of Proven