Marseille is the oldest French city. It was founded around 600 BC, and was known as Μασσαλία (Massalía). From Antiquity, Marseille has been a major commercial leisure harbour. Marseille quickly became one of the major places for exchange between the Mediterranean and Celtic cultures, thanks to its opening towards the Mediterranean sea.
In 1481, Marseille became a French city. The first chamber of commerce in France opened in 1599 in the city. Then, Louis XIV initiated an important planning operation which extended Marseille out of its medieval walls. The city area was tripled, with the construction of a new City Hall and a new hospital, among others… Marseille enjoyed a considerable commercial boost during the nineteenth century, becoming an industrial and prosperous city. New buildings such as the Prefecture, the Palais du Pharo, the Cathédrale de la Major, as well as Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde…).
Legacies of this past, Marseille harbour as well as the maritime economy remain the major sources of the regional, national and European activities. Its exceptional attractions with a 57km seabord and the Calanques National Park 10 minutes away from the city makes it a strong tourist place.
The opening of Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea has made it a cosmopolitan city of cultural and economic exchanges. It is often considered the “Gate of the East”. In 2013, Marseille was elected European Capital of Culture, which triggered an extraordinary transformation of the city, including the creation of the MuCEM, Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Small picturesque fishermen village located at the end of Marseille.
The museum is devoted to European and Mediterranean civilisations. With a permanent collection charting historical and cultural cross-fertilisation in the Mediterranean basin, it takes an interdisciplinary approach to society through the ages up to modern times.