Fort Saint Jean through History
You can see the fort on the right when you face the Old Port. It is an important part of a military complex that is inseparable from Marseille's history. Former commandery of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 12th century during the Crusades, Fort Saint Jean was the starting point for the troops to reach the Holy Land. It faces Fort Saint Nicolas.
The Commandery is a combination of a chapel, a church, a hospital and the Commander's palace. The complex was completed in 1365. The large square tower was built by King René between 1447 and 1453, who thus sought to protect the port more effectively. The distinctive and visible round tower dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
The construction of Fort Saint Jean
These were shipowners who, in 1664, wished to fortify the area and build a watchtower that would be visible 20 km from Marseille's harbour to facilitate the work of commercial ships.
It is called the Tour du Fanal or Tour Ronde. Fort Saint Jean was built under Louis XIV's orders from 1668 to 1671 after the expulsion of the Hospitallers. In 1679, after a rebellion by the inhabitants of Marseille, it was separated from the rest of the city with the digging of a ditch by Vauban. The complex retained a military vocation until the revolution, before becoming a state prison. During World War II, the fort used to be an ammunition depot for the Germans was heavily damaged by an accidental explosion.
A monument at the heart of Marseille's history
Today, Fort Saint Jean is one of the most visited monuments in Marseille. It is connected to the former port by a footbridge, forming an integral part of the MuCEM (Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean). The view of the port and bay of Marseille, as well as the footbridge, is a real delight.
Between history, culture and spectacular panorama, the experience cannot leave anyone indifferent. This is why it is an essential stopover during your visit to the Phocaean City.
If you go to Fort Saint Jean, Marseille Tourisme invites you to join one of the circuits of the Petit Train de Marseille. You can discover Marseille by walking through the streets of Le Panier or by marvelling at the magnificent view of Notre Dame de la Garde. If you are interested, go to the ticket office at the Old Port! And why not choose segway rental or bike rental to continue your visit to Marseille?