Fort Saint-Jean, Marseille

Fort Saint-Jean, Marseille

Fort Saint-Jean, established in 1660 by Louis XIV at the mouth of the Old Port in Marseille, is a formidable fortification. The construction of the fort involved the integration of two pre-existing structures: the twelfth-century Commandry of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem, which once served as a monastic hospice during the crusades, and the fifteenth-century tower of René I, King of Provence.

In April 1790, Fort Saint-Jean fell into the hands of a revolutionary mob who beheaded the commander of the royal garrison. During the subsequent French Revolution, the fort was transformed into a prison, where it held prominent figures such as Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, along with two of his sons, Louis-Charles, Count of Beaujolais, and Antoine Philippe, Duke of Montpensier. Tragically, after Robespierre's overthrow in 1794, approximately a hundred Jacobin prisoners imprisoned within the fort were brutally massacred.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Fort Saint-Jean remained under the ownership of the French Army, serving as a barracks and clearing station for the Army of Africa. However, during World War II, the fort fell under German occupation in November 1942. The liberation of Marseilles in August 1944 saw the fort suffer immense damage when a munitions depot exploded, severely impacting its historic battlements and structures.

Recognized as a historical monument in 1964, the damaged sections of Fort Saint-Jean were meticulously reconstructed between 1967 and 1971. Today, it stands as the home of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, preserving its rich history for generations to come.

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 Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Fort Saint-Jean on Map

Sight Name: Fort Saint-Jean
Sight Location: Marseille, France (See walking tours in Marseille)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Marseille, France

Create Your Own Walk in Marseille

Create Your Own Walk in Marseille

Creating your own self-guided walk in Marseille is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Marseille Introduction Walking Tour

Marseille Introduction Walking Tour

Marseille was created by immigrants from all around the Mediterranean basin even before the Phocaeans. In about 620 BC a Greek Phoenician galley rowed into a small outlet called Lacydon Creek, looking for trade. They found it. Ligurians occupied the land, and being sort of Greek themselves, they didn't mind doing business.

The leader of the galley people was one called Protis. Protis was...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Food and Shopping Walk

Food and Shopping Walk

Shopping in Marseille is a great way to mingle with the locals and immerse in new tastes, scents and customs. As with so much else in this melting-pot of a city, the top-of-the-range stores here rub shoulders with the funky little boutiques, high-street chains with scruffy discount outlets or traditional family groceries and bakeries.

Marseille doesn't have a flagship thoroughfare as such,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

Marseille's religious scene, albeit diverse, is dominated by Christianity. The Christian presence in the city dates back to ancient times, making it an integral part of local identity. The vibrant Mediterranean port city also has been a significant pilgrimage destination.

The majority of Christians in Marseille are Roman Catholics, whose prevalence is manifested in the form of multiple...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Marseille's Old Town

Marseille's Old Town

Marseille's Panier (Old Town) is full of history. The nick "Panier" means "basket" and it comes from the 17th-century inn, Le Logis du Panier, that once stood on today's rue du Panier.

Over the course of centuries the cobblestone streets of Marseille's Old Town had been a haven for refugees, criminals, and prostitutes, as well as Resistance fighters, Jews and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles