Porte Royale

Porte d’Aix (also known as the Porte Royale ) is a triumphal arch in Marseille , in the south of France , marking the old entry point to the city on the road from Aix-en-Provence . [1] The classical design by Michel-Robert Penchaud was inspired by the triumphal arches of the Roman Empire . The Porte d’Aix was originally conceived in 1784 to honor Louis XIV and to commemorate the Peace of Paris (1783) that ended the American war of independence . Following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchyin 1814-15, the project was resumed in 1823, now to commemorate French victories in the Spanish Expedition , notably at the Battle of Trocadero , August 31, 1823. It was eventually completed in 1839, with a more general theme of victory. [2]


In 1660 Louis XIV descended on Marseille to a political turmoil. His troops blasted a hole in the thirteenth century ramparts that ran the length of the rue d’Aix between the city gates of “Porte Royale” and “Porte d’Aix”. Part of the subsequent reorganization of Marseille Involved not only year Increased military presence, demolition of the old ramparts, new Royal Shipyards ( Arsenal of Galleys ) and seaward fortifications, goal aussi a new governing body drawn from the merchant class, charged with making planes to expand and beautify the city. From an early stage these plans include the reconstruction of the Royal Gate and the removal of the unsightly overground aqueduct ( aqueduct of the Huveaune) in the place of Aix at the end of the rue d’Aix: the original door of Aix was formed by the arches of this aqueduct. [3] Numerous projects for city plans were proposed, including one by Pierre Puget , placing a ceremonial Porte Royale in the Place d’Aix.

Eventually in 1784 the city of Marseilles decided to use the profits generated by the royal shipyards to erect a royal triumphal arch in the place of Aix ” to the glory of Louis XIV and commemorate the peace gloriously achieved , putting an end to the war of independence in America “. [4] Already delayed by local officialdom, the project was abandoned during the French Revolution and Napoleonic rule . Following the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy, the project was resumed in 1823 by the mayor of Marseille, the Marquis de Montgrand, under royal charter from Louis XVIII ; this time it was intended to commemorate the victoryLouis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême , son of the future king Charles X , at the Battle of Trocadero That resulted in the restoration of Ferdinand VII as King of Spain.

The first stone was laid in 1825 by the Marquess of Montgrand with a dedication to the royal family. [5] The aqueduct was demolished three years later to clear the place of Aix. [6] The project, however, was still in France. Although the construction work started under Charles X , it was only completed under Louis Philippe in 1839; and, with the intervening political changes in France, but rather the more general theme of French victories.


Michel-Robert Penchaud, the architect of the monument, [7] probably took his arch of Titus on the Via Sacra in Rome , the elements are present from other Roman triumphal arches such as the Arches of Trajan and the Arch of Constantine . [8] Gaétan Cantini, father of the sculptor Jules Cantini, was responsible for the stonework. [9] The ornamental sculpture was entrusted to the Parisian sculptor Antoine-André Marneuf who took his inspiration from the Roman triumphal arch at Orange; the statuary and bas-reliefs were commissioned from David d’Angers and Etienne-Jules Ramey .

The main facades depict the battles of Fleurus , Heliopolis , Marengo and Austerlitz . The two bas-reliefs under the portico depict the call to the defense of liberty (David of Angers) and the return of the victorious heroes (Ramey). Eight giant allegorical statues, almost 3m high, were placed in the attic of the Virtues . David of Angers completed Devotion , Prudence , Resignation and Fortitude in 1835; Ramey only finished VigilanceClemency , Energy and Temperance on the south facade in 1839. Unfortunately, Because The Stone Was not Properly weather-proof, the statues started to erode. In 1921 they were repaired using reinforced concrete; nevertheless in 1937 six of the heads rolled off onto the street below. In later restoration of the arch in 2003, only four of the statues were kept, those of David of Angers, on the north facade.

Probably because of its location, the triumphal arch is a monument that is often undeservedly overlooked. Composed of a single arch and an attic supported by four corinthian columns , its harmony is inspired by the monuments of antiquity. Its height and width are identical, just under 18m, with one square, one of the “perfect” geometric forms. It is easy to reach from two metro stations Jules Guesdeand Colbert and is in walking distance from the main railway station, Marseille Saint Charles Station . [10]


  1. Jump up^ My Travel Guide – Triumphal Arch of the Porte d’Aix
  2. Jump up^ My Travel Guide – Aix Gate; Why Travel France – Porte d’Aix
  3. Jump up^ Pierre-Martin Roux, The Provençal Observer of Medical Sciences, dedicated to Hippocrates (1825), page 245. (Digitized book.)
  4. Jump up^ Municipal Archives, BB219, folio 87, City Council, June 30th 1784: the city council petitionedLouis XVIto allow them to erect “a triumphal arch to the glory of Louis XIV and in memory of peace gloriously concluded, putting end to America’s War of Independence“.
  5. Jump up^ The inscription in French reads:

    This triumphal arch

    Was voted on October 17, 1823 by the city of Marseille To pay a glowing tribute To the glory gained in Spain By the French army and its illustrious leader, HRH the Duke of Angouleme Since dolphin of France. His majesty Louis XVIII, glorious memory Permit, by royal decree of December 30, 1823, The erection of this monument of love and gratitude

    To his august family

  6. Jump up^ One archway of the old aqueduct in the forefront of the modernRegional Council.
  7. Jump up^ Marseille and its heritage (Tourist Office of Marseille)
  8. Jump up^ The booklet of the Marseille History Museum suggests theArch of TrajanatBeneventoas one of the possible models.
  9. Jump up^ Cantini produced the monumental fountain in place Castellane and bequeathed the Cantini Museum to the city.
  10. Jump up^ Porte d’Aix history (in French)

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