Marseille


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Marseille

a port in SE France, on the Gulf of Lions: second largest city in the country and a major port; founded in about 600 bc by Greeks from Phocaea; oil refining. Pop.: 798 430 (1999)

Marseille

 

a city in southern France, on the Gulf of Lions on the Mediterranean Sea. The country’s second largest city after Paris; administrative center of the department of Bouches-du-Rhone. Population, 890,000 (1968); 964,400 in the conurbation.

Marseille is France’s largest port, located near the mouth of the Rhône River, with which it is connected by a canal. It has a vast port complex, including the old port, a new port built in the northwest of the city, and a series of satellite cities, mainly on the Etang de Berre and the Gulf of Fos. The freight turnover of the port was 75 million tons in 1971 (about one-third of the freight turnover of all French ports). Its freight turnover includes 50 million tons of petroleum, part of which is shipped in crude form along petroleum pipelines to the cities of Lyon and Strasbourg, as well as Karlsruhe in the Federal Republic of Germany. Marseille is a hub of railroad, highway, and air communications (there is an airport in the city of Marignane) and an important tourist center.

Marseille is one of the leading industrial centers of France. Its most important industries are petroleum refining (capacity of the refineries, more than 20 million tons a year), petrochemistry and the chemical industry (including synthetic rubber, plastics, and fertilizers), and machine building (including shipbuilding and ship repair and aircraft construction); the food-and-condiment and the building-materials industries are well developed. The industrial enterprises are located mainly in the region of the port facilities. New port and industrial construction is concentrated in the satellite city of Fos (where, in particular, a metallurgical complex is under construction with the participation of the USSR).

A. E. SLUKA

The main thoroughfare of Marseille is the street La Canebiere; a picturesque embankment, called Corniche, runs into a highway that connects Marseille with the resorts of the Cote d’Azur. The old city forms an amphitheater around the old port. Architectural remains include ruins of Roman fortifications, the Gothic Romanesque St. Victor’s Church (llth through 15th centuries; the crypt dates from the early fifth century), the former cathedral of La Major (begun in the 12th century; remains of a fifth-century baptistry; sculptures in the chapel of St. Lazare by F. Laurana, late 15th century), the baroque city hall (late 17th century), a triumphal arch (1825), and the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (eclectic style; 1864).

Construction after World War II (1939-45) includes the reconstructed old harbor (1951; architect A. Perret), an apartment house (1947-52; architect Le Corbusier), the faculty of medicine and pharmacology of the university (1959; architect R. Egger), an army hospital (1960-63; architect P. Forestier), and groups of 17- to 20-story buildings (1965; architects Valmont and Rouviere). The central park ensemble (architect P. Jamot) and an autonomous port on the Gulf of Fos (architect G. Jaubert) were built in the late 1960’s.

Located in Marseille are the Academy of Sciences and Arts, a university (a division of the University of Aix), a conservatory, museums (including museums of the history of Marseille and of fine arts), an aquarium, a zoo, and a botanical garden. A fortress (1526-1600; now a museum) is located on the island of If, near Marseille.

Marseille was founded circa 600 B.C. as the Greek colony of Massalia. Later Marseille itself founded a number of colonies on the Mediterranean coast and became a trade rival of Carthage. The Roman conquest in the first century B.C. put an end to Marseille’s importance as a large trade center. The Crusades contributed to the growth of the commercial importance of Marseille, which became an important transit port. The city acquired the rights of a commune between the late 12th century and the early 13th. In 1481, Marseille came together with Provence under the rule of the French kings.

During the Great French Revolution volunteers of a Marseille battalion brought their anthem the “Marseillaise” to revolutionary Paris. In 1793 the bourgeoisie of Marseille staged a revolt against the Jacobin dictatorship, but it was quickly suppressed. The Continental Blockade greatly undermined Marseille’s economy. In the second half of the 19th century the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) and the French expansion in North Africa caused a new economic upswing in Marseille. The Paris Commune of 1871 spurred the proletariat to great revolutionary actions. A workers’ congress held in Marseille in 1879 adopted a decision on the founding of the Workers’ Party. The first congress of the French Communist Party was held in Marseille in 1921.

In World War II (1939–45), Marseille was occupied by fascist German troops in November 1942. During the occupation the city was one of the most important centers of the Resistance Movement, and systematic strikes, including a general strike in May 1944, virtually paralyzed the port. An uprising against the occupation forces started on Aug. 19, 1944, and Marseille was liberated on Aug. 28, 1944.

REFERENCES

Odessa-Marsel’: Druzhba. (Collection of articles.) Odessa, 1960.
Busquet, R. Histoire de Marseille, 5th ed. Paris, 1945.
Histoire du commerce de Marseille, vols. 1-7. Paris, 1949-66.
Bouyala d’Arnaud, A. Evocation du vieux Marseille. Marseille, 1959.
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