Notre-Dame de la Garde is a basilica located in Marseille, France. This ornate Neo-Byzantine church is situated at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 532 ft limestone outcrop on the south side of the Old Port. As well as being a major local landmark, it is the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every Assumption Day. Local inhabitants commonly refer to it as la bonne mère (“the good mother”).
A minor basilica of the Catholic church, it is situated on a limestone peak of 490 ft, on the walls and foundations of an old fort. Built by architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu in the Neo-Byzantine style, the basilica was consecrated on 5 June 1864. It replaced a church of the same name built in 1214 and reconstructed in the 15th century. The basilica was built on the foundations of a 16th-century fort constructed by Francis I of France to resist the 1536 siege of the city by the Emperor Charles V.
The basilica is made up of two parts: a lower church, or crypt, dug out of the rock and in the Romanesque style, and an upper church of Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics. A square bell-tower of 135 ft is surmounted by a belfry of 42 ft which itself supports a monumental, 27 ft tall statue of the Madonna and Child made out of copper gilded with gold leaf.
In Marseilles, Notre-Dame de la Garde is traditionally regarded by the population as the guardian and the protectress of the city.
Official Website: notredamedelagarde.com
Photo Credit: Mikael