Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde Marseille, France

Virgin Mary keeps watch

Virgin Mary keeps watch over the city

This 19th-century Romano-Byzantine basilica, informally known as La Bonne Mère, sits atop Marseille’s highest hill, La Garde, and is visible from almost anywhere in the city.

Annunciation of Mary

Annunciation of Mary

The structure is striking, with colored marble, murals and mosaics, wraparound terraces and a tall Virgin Mary crowning the bell tower.

I couldn't stop looking!

So much to take in!

Since Roman times, this site has served as a lookout point over the entire city, the ports and the sea.

Ceiling detail

Ceiling detail

Altar

Altar

The interior is overwhelming and colorful with ornate gold leaf, anchor and boat motifs and floor and ceiling mosaics depicting palm trees, vines, olives and birds.

Silver Virgin

Silver Virgin

Boats hang from the ceiling

Boats hang from the ceiling

A church was first constructed here in the 13th century. Sailors would climb to it and pray for a safe voyage.

Looking over the city

Looking over the city

Views toward the water

Views toward the water

Staircase

Staircase

The architect, Henri-Jacques Espérandieu, also designed the Palais Longchamp and the Cathedral de la Major.

Crypt

Crypt

We took a bus from the Vieux Port and walked down.

Open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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