Monday, December 04, 2006

Marseille: The Abbey of Saint Victor

The Abbey of Saint Victor has been standing on the same place since 416. At that point Marseille had seen the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman empires, and was close to a new important epoque, the Merovingian era.

That year, the mysterious monk John Cassian, founded a church dedicated to the patron saint of the seafarers, St. Victor of Marseille. The remains of the patron saint and the skull of the abbeys founder John Cassian still rest in the church.

The Abbey looks more like an old medieval fortress than a church, as it is situated on a hill overlooking the fortifications protecting the old harbour. Only a small part of the current structure, close to the old doorway, goes back to 5th century. The church as it is today, dates back to the early 11th century. Part of the old church was demolished during the French revolution.

It is a wonderful experience to enter the darkness in this small mysterious basilica, built in the romanesque style. It is probably the oldest piece of archictecture left in Marseille from a turbulent and important time in European history.

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