Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Marseilles (French Marseille), the third town of France and its chief port, is the capital of the department of Bouches du Rhone. A colony was founded here and called Massalia by the Phocsean Greeks in the 7th century B.C., and soon became an important trading centre, which founded colonies of its own on all the shores of the Mediterranean. In return for its assistance against Carthage the Romans left it as a civitas fcederata, or nominal ally but not subject of Rome. In 1112 the town became a free republic, and during the Crusades it regained its early importance. It played an important part during the French religious wars and during the French Revolution. It lost its ancient liberties when taken in 1660 by Louis XIV. In 1871 it continued its revolutionary traditions by proclaiming the Commune. Marseilles is almost equally important as a commercial and a manufacturing city. More than 8,000 vessels enter its harbour every year, and it is the headquarters of the Messageries Maritimes and several other great trading companies. The old harbour has an area of nearly 70 acres; and, besides this, there are numerous new docks and quays farther west covering even a greater surface, and an outer roadstead. Great quantities of soap and oil-cake are made, and there are important leather manufactories, large flour-mills, and extensive wine-vaults. Other important industries are metal-working and sugar refining. The chief imports are cereals and silk. The most interesting buildings in Marseilles are the church of Notre Dame de la Garde, built in 1864. on the site of a 13th-century building, and containing an image of the Virgin, the special protection of sailors; that of St. Victor, built in 1200, having 11th-century catacombs; and the Longchamps palace, a fine modern building.