A strategic military point

History of Fort Saint Nicolas

It is the Fort on the left when facing the Old Port. Fort Saint Nicolas is a military building used not so much to protect the city from invasions, but above all to protect itself from the people of Marseille and their independent and rebellious spirit. It faces Fort Saint Jean, located on the other side of the Old Port. He is a witness of Marseille's history.

Thus, in 1660, following a series of political unrest followed by revolts, Louis XIV ordered the deployment of troops and the construction of a citadel "at the place in the city that would be considered the cleanest", i. e. to allow the surveillance of the city but also its defence against an attack coming from the sea.

The current location was therefore chosen, behind the Saint-Victor Abbey. On March 2, 1660, the construction site was launched during the King's visit. Given the size of the project and the nature of the building, the construction was completed in record time, in only 4 years.
During the French Revolution, the crowd, suspicious of the threat, both physical and symbolic, that Fort Saint Nicolas could represent, began to destroy it. But the Assemblée Nationale, anxious to preserve a structure for the defence of the city, ordered to stop the demolition of the fortress and began its restoration. In 1860, Fort Saint Nicolas was cut in half by the route of the new Boulevard Charles Livon.

Today, the fortress is still in two parts, the portion bordering the sea has been named Fort Ganteaume and houses the military circle and the officers' mess. The part on the land side, the high fort, is called Fort d'Entrecasteaux. Only part of the complex is open to the public and can be visited. The opportunity to climb up the ramparts of this Monument de Marseille and admire the superb view they offer of the port and the city of Marseille. The complex has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1969.

Visit of Fort Saint Nicolas

To visit it, you will need to contact the tourist office directly. If you want to visit Marseille in a fun way, have you thought about renting a segway? For families, Marseille Tourisme recommends the Petit Train de Marseille which will delight all family members. Walking through the city, you will enjoy a guided tour through different districts of the Phocaean City from the ticket office located on the Old Port. And for the more traditional ones, bike rental will allow you to enjoy our sunny climate.

Itineraries around location