The chapel & courtyard. Photos taken in February 2017
La Vieille Charité (The Old Charity) in Marseille France is considered a masterpiece of 17th century architectural design. The name of charité is misleading. Beggars & homeless people were imprisoned here & forced to work, an uncharitable attitude common at the time. La Vieille Charité is located in the heart of Le Panier, the old city of Marseille. The grand architecture & open space is quite striking among the narrow streets & modest houses of Le Panier. La Vieille Charité was built between 1671 & 1749, following the plan of architect Pierre Puget. The larger building is a 3-story rectangle surrounding a courtyard. A chapel with a portico supported by Corinthian columns is at the center of the courtyard. The portico is similar to those of Roman temples. Both buildings are constructed of pink & yellow sandstone from ancient quarries at Cap Couronne. Although it was not damaged during the French Revolution or WW2, it became quite degraded during more than two centuries of various uses. La Vieille Charité was restored between 1970 & 1986. It now houses the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology & the Museum of Art of Africa, Oceania & Amerindia. Both are only moderately interesting. There is also a research library of archaeological documents, a school of advanced studies in social sciences & offices of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research).
Le Panier is the Old City in Marseille, France. People have lived on this piece of land for more than 2,000 years. This neighborhood was heavily damaged during World War 2, then rebuilt with the same street plan & sometimes the same foundations, as before. This streetscape was not as appealing to me as those in other cities, where the buildings are much older. These houses look modern. But the place still has more charm than many urban neighborhoods in the US. The narrow houses, the street plan that does not conform to a modern grid & the narrow streets that can barely accommodate a car, all that feels intriguingly alien to an American. How nice it would be, if this plan were adapted for use in modern cities, a respite from too many cars taking up too much space. Compare this with other old cities that evolved centuries ago & more modern urban landscapes.
This blog began in 2008 as Metropolitan Gardens to provide information on gardening in Seattle & places like it. Click on Gardening in Cascadia. The blog expanded to include Parks P-Patches Public Gardens in the US, Canada & Europe. Then Nature was added. (The difference between nature & gardens is intent. Nature happens. Gardens are planned.) Many recent posts are not about Seattle, or even Cascadia. They are Urban Landscape: streetscape & architecture. Cascadia is the region including the Cascade Mountains of Washington & Oregon. If you want to contact the blogger, leave a message in comments. Comments are moderated & private messages will not be posted.
The city of Seattle rests between 2 bodies of water: Puget Sound & Lake Washington. Puget Sound is a substantial part of the Salish Sea & a very small part of the Pacific Ocean. The Salish Sea is set apart from the Pacific by the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington & Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia. The dense, wet clouds of the Pacific Ocean travel as far as the Cascade Mountains, near the Salish Sea & not very far from the ocean. East of the Cascades lies the desert of the Columbia Basin. The moist, temperate climate of Seattle extends south to northern California & north to southeastern Alaska. The Pacific Northwest Coast from San Francisco Bay to Cook Inlet shares a flora dominated by evergreen coniferous forest. The central portion, west of the Cascade Mountains, is called Cascadia. The climate is cool & wet from fall to spring, warm & dry in summer. The Olympic Mountains block Seattle from much of the Pacific rainfall. Seattle is drier than the Atlantic coast of North America & northern Europe, cooler in summer & warmer in winter. It lies near the latitude of Paris & Quebec City.