Cathédrale de la Major (Marseille Cathedral), Marseille

Cathédrale de la Major (Marseille Cathedral), Marseille (must see)

Also known as Cathedrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille, it is actually two cathedrals, old and new. In the latter part of the 19th century Napoleon III, Emperor of France, decided to replace the 12th century provencal romanesque cathedral ("Vielle Major"). He had it demolished, all but the choir and one bay of the nave.

He spared the remnant when the outraged population demonstrated against the change. The new cathedral ("Nouvelle Major") is a massive Romanesque-Byzantine Revival structure. Towering over the waterfront, it is 469 feet long, and the main cupola is 231 feet high. It can hold up to some 3,000 souls.

It is located on the Plaza Major. The facade is formed of two different types of stone tile, giving the effect of horizontal bars of color. The locals were reminded of bedtime attire and they often refer to the cathedral as "the Pajamas", no offense intended. The interior features Carrera marble, Tunisian onyx, and Venetian mosaics.

The remains of the old 12th century cathedral huddle alongside La Major. There is not a lot left of it after Napoleon III's smashing venture. There is a chansel and an apse with smaller apses on the side. The vault is cylindrical with an eight-sided cupola above the transept and a seven-sided cupola above the cross of the transept.

Why you should visit:
This is an awesome structure. It declares not so much spiritual glory as it does the past glory of Imperial France. Dominating all around it, it declares power forgotten but never outdone. And besides, admission is free.

Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10am-6:30pm (Apr-Sep); 10am-5:30pm (Oct-Mar)

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Marseille. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Cathédrale de la Major (Marseille Cathedral) on Map

Sight Name: Cathédrale de la Major (Marseille Cathedral)
Sight Location: Marseille, France (See walking tours in Marseille)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Marseille, France

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Create Your Own Walk in Marseille

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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