Friday, February 15, 2019

La Vieille Charité Marseille France

The entrance to La Vieille Charité

The portico of the chapel

The rectangular building

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).

Friday, February 1, 2019

Le Panier Marseille France


Photos taken in February & March 2017

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.