Palais Longchamp Marseille is a palace and its gardens, containing one of the best fountains in Europe, as well as Marseille’s art and natural history museums.
The palace is located within Boulevard du Jardin Zoologique, not too far from the city center.
Construction work on the building was completed in 1869, twenty years after the completion of Marseille canal and in honor of that accomplishment.
Commission to build the Longchamp palace was given in 1861 to architectHenri Espérandieu, who had previously gained fame for designing the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica.
PHOTO: A view to Palais Longchamp’s central section, which contains Chateau d’Eau water tower, build as a monument to the completion of the Marseille canal.
PHOTO: A closeup of the monumental fountain’s central statue, which portrays three women (statue in the middle allegorical to ‘Durance river‘, with allegories to ‘wine‘ and ‘wheat‘ next to it) and four big bulls.
PHOTO: Gates leading to the palace fountains includes four animal statues by Antoine-Louis Barye, portraying hunting lions and tigers.
PHOTO: Part of the palace complex is the Parc Longchamp gardens, build in “garden à la française” style. Within the gardens, you can still find remaining building for the 19th century zoo that used to be here.
PHOTO: Parc Longchamp contains many statues and other highlights, of which one, a Wallace fountain in the picture.
The complex consists of…
- Chateau d’Eau water tower (visible from Boulevard Longchamp and surrounded by fountains),
- a natural history museum,
- an art museum, and
- two gardens: one for public use and one reserved to be used as the natural history museum’s botanical gardens.
The main highlight within the palace has become its ‘Chateau d’Eau’ watertower and fountains.
Behind the water tower, you can see a triumphal arch (with statues byEugène-Louis Lequesne), crowned by a sculpture in the shape of a flower basket.
Central to the water tower is a 10-meter-tall (32 feet) monumental sculpture, an artwork by Jules Cavelier.
The artworks’ central female figure is allegorical to Durance river, with female figures allegorical to ‘wine’ and ‘wheat’ next to the central figure, looking gratefully at ‘Durance river’ and taking support from it.
This monumental sculpture artwork is also symbolical to the importance of Marseille canal (which is derived from Durance river) to the everyday life at the city and its residents.
Of the other sections within Palais Longchamp Marseille, the right wing contains the city’s Natural History Museum (www.museum-marseille.org).
Collections at the Natural History Museum, which has beed divided into four different exhibitions, include…
- samples of 83,000 different animals,
- 200,000 plants,
- 81,000 paleontological objects, and
- 8,000 samples of minerals from around the world.
Marseille Musee Beaux-Arts, on the other hand, is located on the left wing of the palace.
The art museum’s collections contain…
- sculptures, and
- drawings (especially from the French School and from Northern Italian masters, with emphasis on the periods between 16th and 19th centuries).
The palatial gardens had its own zoo from 1898 to 1987.
- oriental pavilions for giraffes & elephants, and
- animal cages decorated with Turkish tiles.
To get to the palace, one of the easiest ways is to use the city’s subway system, with the closes subway exit being at “Cinq Avenues – Longchamp“.