Perched on the high point of Marseille, and overlooking one of the ports, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde commands a spectacular view of all of Marseille. From here, you can see for miles, taking in both amazing sunrises as well as sunsets.
The Basilica was completed in 1864 to replace a church having the same name that had been built in 1214. However, the Basilica is actually built on the location of a fort dating to the 16th century. The location, being the highest elevation in Marseille, was a perfect location for a fort, but you could say that the emphasis moved from military protection to spiritual protection. It certainly is inspiring being elevated above the rest of the city.
Marseille is the second largest city in France, with a history dating back to 600 BC when Phoenicians. There is evidence in cave paintings that humans have lived here for nearly 30,000 years.
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.Text by Steve Smith.