Notre-Dame de la Garde, in French for Marseille’s citizens “la bonne mère” (the good (holy) mother), is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France, and the city’s best-known symbol. The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage, it was the most visited site in Marseille. It was built on the foundations of an ancient fort at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 149 m (489 ft) limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille.
Construction of the basilica began in 1852 and lasted for 21 years. The basilica consists of a lower church or crypt in the Romanesque style, carved from the rock, and an upper church of Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics. A square 41 m (135 ft) bell tower topped by a 12.5 m (41 ft) belfry supports a monumental 11.2 m (37 ft) statue of the Madonna and Child made of copper gilded with gold leaf.
The climb isn’t to be taken lightly in the summer, but there’s a tourist train departing regularly from the Old Port.