Porte d’Aix Marseille, which is also known as ‘Porte Royale‘, is a triumphal arch from 1839, built to commemorate French military victories.
An idea for the triumphal arch was brought forward in 1660, as ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV arrived in Marseille with his army, to calm down the restless political situation there.
As the situation calmed down, the new administrators of the city got orders to both beautify and modernize the Marseille cityscape.
This project included the building of the triumphal arch within Place d’Aix, to the area between the ancient city entrance gates, Porte Royale and Porte d’Aix.
PHOTO: The triumphal arch’s northern facade. Highlights within the northern facade include the allegorical statues by David d’Angers on its attic section, symbolizing virtues of ‘dedication‘, ‘practical wisdom‘, ‘patience‘, and ‘courage‘.
PHOTO: The memorial is a monument to those who have fought for France, which is also referenced by the golden lettered dedication — on both sides of the triumphal arch: “A LA REPUBLIQUE MARSEILLE RECONNAISSANTE”, in English “MARSEILLE GRATEFUL TO THE REPUBLIC”.
PHOTO: Southern facade of the triumphal arch, which is a ‘point de vue‘ highlight as you come towards the attraction from Marseille’s central street, Canebière, via Rue d’Aix.
PHOTO: Highlights within the triumphal arch facade include its four bas-relief sculptures, portraying battles at Fleurus (1794), Héliopolis (1800), Marengo (1800), and Austerlitz (1805).
PHOTO: Under the triumphal arch, you can also find two massive bas-reliefs by David d’Angers and Etienne-Jules Ramey. Of these two artworks, pictured is Étienne-Jules Ramey’s “La Patrie Appelant ses Enfants à la Défense de la Liberté”, in English “Homeland Calls Its Children to Defend Liberty”.
Actual construction work on the triumphal arch got underway only from1784, when the city of Marseille decided to build a royal triumphal arch to the d’Aix square to…
- honor King Louis XIV and
- to celebrate the ending of the Revolutionary War in the United States.
However, the project was temporarily abandoned due to the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign.
Construction work continued only from 1823, as commissioned by King Louis XVIII.
The triumphal arch was completed in 1839, and it was dedicated to the historical French military victories in general.
Plans for the monument came from Michel-Robert Penchaud, who took inspiration especially from the triumphal arch of Titus, located at Via Sacra in Rome, Italy.
Porte d’Aix’s decorative details, on the other hand, were designed by Parisian sculptor Antoine-André Marneuf, who, in turn, took inspiration to his work from the ancient Roman triumphal arch of Orange.
- David d’Angers, whose works can also be found from Pantheonand Louvre in Paris, as well as
- Etienne-Jules Ramey, who did sculptures also to the Église de la Madeleine church and for the Luxembourg gardens, also in Paris.
You can easily get to the Porte d’Aix from surrounding areas in Marseilles, as it is located only a short walk from Marseille subway stations “Jules Guesde” and “Colbert“…and it is also close to the Gare de Marseille Saint Charles train station.