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Basilique | by Mat Distef
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Canon EOS 550D

EF-S 70-300mm


Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard), is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France. This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of an ancient fort located at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 149m (490 feet) limestone outcrop on the south side of the Old Port. It is a major local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year on Assumption Day, August 15.


The basilica was consecrated on June 5, 1864 and replaced a church of the same name built in 1214 and restored in the 15th century. It was built on the foundations of a 16th-century fort built by Francis I of France to resist the 1536 siege of Marseilles by the Emperor Charles V. The basilica consists of a lower church, or crypt, in the Romanesque style carved from the rock, as well as an upper church of Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics. A square bell tower of 41m (135 feet) topped by a belfry of 12.5m (42 feet) supports a monumental 11.2m (27 feet) statue of the Madonna and Child, made of copper gilded with gold leaf.


The green limestone from the area surrounding Florence used to build the basilica, has been discovered to be sensitive to atmospheric corrosion. An extensive restoration took place from 2001 to 2008, including work on the mosaics that were damaged by candle smoke and the impact of bullets during the Liberation of France at the end of World War II.


People from Marseille traditionally see Notre-Dame de la Garde as the guardian and the protector of the city. Local inhabitants commonly refer to it as la bonne mère ("the good mother").


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Taken on May 8, 2013