La Bourse, Marseille
Another attractive building I found in Marseille was the Palais de la Bourse in Canebiere.
A building with a rich history that dates right back to the time of the French President Napoleon Bonapart III who inaugurated the neo-classical palace in the year of 1860. This beautiful building is home to Marseilles' Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Maritime Museum.
The museum is housed in two long corridors along the side of the large central hall of the Bourse.
On display are models of sailing and steam ships, nautical maps and engravings and early diving bells and other equipment from the 1930s, when the likes of Jacques Cousteau were diving.
THE MARITIME MUSEUM IS OPEN DAILY FROM.... 10 - 6PM
ADULTS.... 2 €
The Stock exchange building ("bourse") was constructed between 1852 and 1854 and houses the oldest Chamber of Commerce of France (1599). The decoration is dedicated to the trade history of Marseille.
The building houses the Museum of the Navy and Economy, presenting paintings and models related to the economy of the port since the XVIth century (from 10am to 6pm, 2 EUR).
Apart from its economic activity, this building, THE PALAIS DE LA BOURSE, houses the Maritime Museum.
It is marvellously sited on the Canebière, facing Charles de Gaulle square.
Designed by Pascal Xavier Coste, an architect from Marseille, the building is in the purest Second Empire style.
It was the first construction to be built with steel beams.
The first stone was laid by Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte on 26th September 1852.
Its frontage with its 5 arcades is decorated with reminders of navigation, astronomy, agriculture, trade and industry!
In the enclosure of the Bourse, the actual "Tourelle de Plongée experimentale" of the Comex is on show. The Comex was created in 1961 and soon became the world leader for deep diving operations, especially for the offshore industry for also for several rescue operations. They were the first to use a breezing mixture of oxygen and helium that allowed to dive much deeper than air.
More on Comex
On the left, an allegoric representation of an unnamed angel (travel ?), clad with a Roman tunic, flanked also by two kid angels, one holding a sextant and the other a half rolled map. In the background, a tower from the city walls appears.
On the right, an allegoric representation of the "Commerce" (Trade) god, Mercure with its snakes adorned rod, but "christianized" and shown as an angel flanked by two kid angels, one holding a cornucopia and the other an ancient amphora.
On the top left, a statue of Euthymènes. Euthymènes, also in the Vth and IVth century BC, sailed south along the west coast of Africa as far as a river which was infested with crocodiles and whose waters were driven back by strong sea breezes. He thought that this river was the Nile, but it may in fact have been the Senegal River.
On the top right, a statue of Pytheas a famous sailor from Marseille. Pytheas has circumnavigated Britain in the IVth Century B.C., and had reported sailing northwest of the British Isles for six days until "an ocean of slush ice and fog so thick one could not sail through" forced him to turn back. During those six days, he has reached Iceland and the polar circle and possibly the shores of Greenland. He made very accurate reports of his travels
Pytheas, must have looking for tin which, when blended with copper, produced the highly prized and valuable "bronze:" the metal of choice in those years.
Between the fluted columns and the sea gods, 8 cartouches hold the names of famous sailors from various countries, in order to outline the strong link of Marseille, the sea and trade. From left to right, French (Jean-François de Galaup de) Lapérouse, Dutch (Abel Janszoon) Tasman, Portuguese (Aquario Vasco de) Gama, Spanish or Italian (Christophe) Colomb, Florence born (Americo) Vespuce, Portuguese (Ferdinand) Magellan, British (James) Cook, French (Jules Sébastien César Dumont) D'Urville.
In Marseille, the "Bourse et Chambre de Commerce" is usually called "La Bourse". This was the first building constructed under the Second Empire from 1852 to 1854 and the start of the building boom of public buildings in Marseille in this period. It houses the oldest Chamber of Commerce of France (1599). The sculpted decoration is entirely dedicated to the famous trade history of Marseille. The Marine museum presents engravings, paintings and models that relate the economic history of the port city since the 16th century. The second level of the front has a series of fluted columns topped by the coat of arm of the city, a cross, flanked by the statue of Neptune with a trident and of Aphrodite, also holding a trident, for the equilibrium of the composition!