The capital of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is full of surprises. Its privileged location allows the visitor to enjoy the pleasant Mediterranean breeze at any time of the year. Marseille is a charming port destination due to its maritime lifestyle, but also its historical and cultural heritage

On this occasion, we will focus on the Palais Longchamp (Longchamp Palace), a beautiful building with an interesting history that houses the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum).

Arriving in Marseille with our Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation high-speed trains is easier and faster than ever. We offer journeys from Barcelona, Madrid or Zaragoza, among other Spanish destinations.


History of the Palais Longchamp ​

Images of the Longchamp Palace

This charming little palace opened its doors in 1869 to celebrate the end of the difficulties caused by the lack of water in the city during this time. In the nineteenth century, drought was a problem that needed to be resolved. This was the reason why it was decided to build an engineering project to transport the water from the Durance River to Marseille. It took more than 30 years of work to build a complex network of 85 kilometres of underground canals and pipes that would bring drinking water to everybody.

To commemorate the arrival of water to Marseille, the Palais Longchamp was built at the end of the avenue with the same name, in the district of Les Cinq Avenues and it was the architect Henri Jacques Espérandieu who built this impressive monument.

The monument was born as a true ode to the water, as is evidenced by allegorical sculptures that symbolize fertility and abundance. It is a Baroque inspired ensemble, composed by a majestic colonnade and a beautiful central fountain known as Château d'eau or Water Castle. The fountain represents a chariot pulled by bulls that carries grapes and wheat and three female figures rise above it representing fertility and life.

The Palace: two museums, a botanical garden and an observatory

Images of the Longchamp Palace

Nowadays, the Palais Longchamp houses the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, a botanical garden and an observatory.

The Museum d'Histoire Naturelle of Marseille is located at the right wing of the palace and was established in 1869. It is considered as one of the most important in Europe in its field. In one of its rooms, we can find a wonderful zoological collection that helps us to understand the evolution of living beings from their origins. Besides, the museum has other amazing collections dedicated to palaeontology that include more than 40,000 fossils. 

The Musée des Beaux-Arts is located at the left wing of the Palais Longchamp and dates from 1801, transforming it into the oldest museum in the city. It exhibits paintings and other artistic works from the 16th to 19th centuries. Among the authors, well-known Italian and French painters such as Perugino, Vernet or Rubens can be identified. 

Close to the palace, you can find a botanical park, which used to be a zoo and an astrological observatory was built there three centuries ago.

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