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Notre-Dame de la Garde

A Roman Catholic basilica, this ornate Neo-Byzantine church is situated at the highest natural point in Marseille, a 162m limestone outcrop on the south side of the Old Port. It is built on the walls and foundations of a 16th century fort, and is made up of two parts: a lower church, or crypt, dug out of the rock and in the Romanesque style; and an upper church of Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics. A square bell-tower of 41m is surmounted by a belfry of 12.5m which itself supports a monumental, 11.2m tall statue of the Madonna and Child made out of copper gilded with gold leaf. As well as being a major local landmark, it is the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every Assumption Day. Local inhabitants commonly refer to it as la bonne mere ("the good mother") and it is traditionally regarded as the guardian and the ‘protectress of the city’.

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