Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Notre-Dame de la Garde

One of the places I visited while in France was Notre-Dame de la Garde. The pictures you see in the slide show show some of the inside of the church and some of the view from the hill the church is on. I will now copy and paste from Wikipedia so that I get all the info right! For some reason I didn't get any pictures of the whole thing so if you are interested in seeing that visit wikipedia.

Notre-Dame de la Garde is a basilica located in Marseille, France. This ornate Neo-Byzantine church sits atop the signal hill of La Garde, the highest natural point in Marseille, being a 162 m (532 ft) limestone outcrop on the south side of the Vieux Port. As well as being a major local landmark, it is the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every August 15th (Assumption). Local inhabitants commonly refer to it as la bonne mère (the good mother).

Statue of the Virgin and Child on the belfry
Commissioned by Saint Charles Eugene de Mazenod, then bishop of Marseille, and designed by the architect Jacques Henri Esperandieu (1829-1874), the church was built between 1853, when the foundation stone was laid on September 11, and 1864. The site was a 13th century chapel also dedicated to Our Lady of the Guard, filled with the ex-votos of safely returned sailors. It shared space atop the hill with a 16th-century fortification established for Francois I, built in 1525, whose own salamander badge is to be found within the present basilica's north porch.
The basilica is surmounted by a 60 m (197 ft) belfry topped with a huge statue of the Virgin and Child, visible across much of the city and from miles out at sea. The basilica took five years to build and required 170,000 tons of material, including 23 shiploads of marble and porphyry from Italy.

In the nave, facing the altar
The interior is decorated with inlaid marble, mosaics and murals. Many of the walls are covered with hundreds of ex-votos, including paintings, plaques, model boats, war medals and even football shirts given by players and supporters of Olympique de Marseille, the local football team

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