From hospices to museums

An emblematic place in Old Marseille, the Vieille Charité is naturally located in the heart of the Le Panier district, which is the historic city center. You can visit the museum on rue de la Charité, near the Cathedral of the Major, in the 2nd arrondissement. The complex also contains 4 museums, a must for a place steeped in history like this one. But at the time, it was the place used to lock up the beggars of the Phocaean city.

Birth of Old Charity

It all began in 1640, with a Royal Edict aimed at "locking up the poor and beggars", and the municipality decided to build the Vieille Charité to house them. The project encountered difficulties and it took 30 years for Pierre Puget, a local child and architect to draw the plans for one of his greatest achievements. Thanks to François Puget, son of Pierre the construction lasted from 1671 to 1745. The building received the city's beggars for more than a century until the Revolution when it became a hospice. In 1905, La Vieille Charité was used by the Army. Then, in 1922, it was used as social housing for people whose homes had been destroyed.

In 1943, it welcomed some families who had been evacuated before the destruction of the Old Port by the Germans.
An air of renewal

Almost abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century, it was Le Corbusier who informed the municipality about the deteriorating building. It therefore decided to restore it.

In 1951, the chapel and hospice were classified as historic monuments. And in 1961, restoration work began and lasted almost 25 years after all residents had been relocated.


Today, this monument in Marseille has become a multi-purpose center housing many cultural structures. What makes it a unique place in Marseille in many ways is the peace and quiet and the beauty of the site, dazzling. The architectural style is representative of the 17th century with the magnificent Puget Chapel in Baroque style with its ovoid shape. The front facade of the building is in the Second Empire style and is decorated with a charity theme.  The unity of style is perfect, the buildings built in pink and white stone extracted from the La Couronne quarry in North Marseille. The building has 4 wings, open to the inside and overlooking the Chapel. They have 3 levels linked by galleries.

More than a museum, the Vieille Charité is a real opportunity to relax and escape. A journey back in time that is embellished with a lot of small relaxing or cultural stops. In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions of the museums, the center has a cinema, a bookshop, a bar restaurant and a poetry center. There is plenty to do between the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology, the Museum of African Arts, the Museum of Oceanic Arts and the Museum of Amerindian Arts. Remember to book your entrance tickets at the ticket office to avoid waiting in line ;-)

As you can imagine, this is an essential place in Marseille. After a brief visit to Le Panier, come and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Vieille Charité, a testimony to Marseille's history.

To visit Marseille differently, have you thought about renting a bike or renting a segway?

The Petit Train de Marseille will also allow you to discover the city in a different way.


Itineraries around location