Palais Longchamp, Marseille: an ode to water, turned into a monument

The capital of the Provence-Alps-Côte d'Azur region is a trunk full of surprises. Its privileged location allows visitors to enjoy their time at any time of the year, sheltered from the pleasant Mediterranean breeze. Marseille is a port destination with a true maritime lifestyle, but which is also known for its historical and cultural heritage. Palais Longchamp is a beautiful building with a long story, in which you will find the Natural History and Fine Arts Museums.

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History of Palais Longchamp

This charming palace opened its doors in 1869 to celebrate the end of the problems arising from the shortage of water that ravaged the city at that time. Not surprisingly, drought was a scourge of the nineteenth century that needed to be tackled. It is for this reason that a structure had to be built to carry water from Durance River to Marseille. It took more than 30 years of work to manufacture a complex network made up of 85 kilometres of canals and underground pipes that would bring drinking water to homes.

Palais Longchamp was built at the end of the avenue of the same name, in the neighbourhood of Les Cinq Avenues, to commemorate the arrival of water in Marseille. Architect Henri Jacques Espérandieu was responsible for erecting this impressive monument.

The monument was created as a true ode to water, as attested by the allegorical sculptures that symbolise fertility and abundance. The set has a baroque inspiration and is made up of a huge colonnade and a very colourful central fountain, the Château d'Eau or Water Castle. The fountain stages a cart pulled by bulls that carry grapes and wheat and on which three female figures stand, representing fertility and life.


Outside of Palais Longchamp

The Palace: two museums, a botanical garden and an observatory

Currently, Palais Longchamp houses the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the botanical garden and an observatory.

The Natural History Museum of Marseille is located in the right wing of the palace. The museum was inaugurated in 1869 and is considered one of the best in Europe in its field. One of its rooms exhibits a huge zoological collection that helps visitors understand the evolution of living beings from the origins. But that's not all, the museum also has another amazing collection dedicated to palaeontology, with more than 40,000 fossils.

The Museum of Fine Arts is located in the left wing of Palais Longchamp and dates back to 1801, making it the oldest museum in the city. It exhibits paintings and other works of art from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Some of the authors include great Italian and French painters, such as Perugino, Vernet or Rubens.

Finally, in the vicinity of the palace there is also a botanical park, which used to be a zoo, as well as an astrological observatory that is more than three centuries old.


Outside of Palais Longchamp

Travel to Marseille by train

Discover every corner of Palais Longchamp and don't miss anything, a building full of history and knowledge! You can travel to Marseille on our Alta Velocidad (high-speed) trains, AVE (high-speed) International to France, to discover this and the city's other monuments. You only have to pack your bags.

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