A PLACE OF EXCEPTION
HISTORY OF THE VAULTS
The vaults at the heart of the new Marseilles: Three key dates
1893: warehouses in harmony with the Cathedral The history of the vaults is closely linked to that of Holy Mary of the Major, the Cathedral of Marseilles built between 1852 and 1893, under the direction of architects Leon Vaudoyer, Henri Espérandieu and Henri Antoine Revoil. The building of this landmark of Marseilles’ new landscape at the end of the XIX° century gave rise to important work of excavation and backfilling to reclaim extension from the sea at the location of the cove of the Dipper and create new wharves, while supporting the podium on which the cathedral would take place. Quite logically, the City decided to create warehouses and vaults, on the sidewall of the promontory serving as the base of the cathedral, along the docks.
Visually, these warehouses were in the foreground of the cathedral. Their architecture thus became the subject of special care. Vaudoyer Espérandieu then took to heart to harmonize the façade of these “commercial space” with that of the cathedral: the drawing of the arches of each store echoed the arches of the transept of the cathedral while a beautiful double staircase decorated with a freestone fountain connected the podium of the Major and the arches and piers where merchant ships docked. A magnificent piece of architecture as evidenced by the engravings of the time.
1970 under the fast track, forgotten warehouse If the Vaults retained their commercial purpose until the middle of the 1970s, occupied in particular by the corporation of the sworn weighers of Marseilles and by the company Margnat, they went through profound upheavals related to the many construction works carried out in this sector at the beginning of the XX° century: first surmounted by bridges to ensure the junction between the podium and a new hangar won on the sea, they were then literally hidden by the highway … They closed at the end of the 1970s, and their access was condemned.
2013: The new waterfront, an authentic district of Marseilles From the 2000s, as part of Euroméditerranée, the city reclaimed its coastline. In 2002, the creation of a tunnel buries the continuous flow of traffic suffocating the perimeter of the cathedral and launches a pedestrian plaza project with stunning views of the harbor and J4. The vaults came out of their isolation. The city of Marseilles, the owner of the Vaults, launched a call for projects to enhance and consolidate this exceptional historic building and give it a second youth as part of the creation of the Boulevard du Littoral.
Today, the Vaults are the gateway for pedestrians from the Panier to the J4, with a 750-seater car park. At the heart of the new 21st century cultural district and its flagship monuments – Regards de Provence Museum, Mucem, CeReM and the renovated fort Saint Jean – the Vaults live a new adventure by becoming a pole of conviviality, with a breathtaking view of the sea!