Rue de la République
La Rue de la République
In 1860 a decision was taken to create the Rue Impérial in order to meet with Second Empire town planning demands but also to comply with theories concerning public health and to beautify the town. This long straight street was in the Parisian Haussman style and was also intended to connect the city's historic centre to the newly-built Joliette port. The port was built in 1844 to cater for the rapidly increasing trading sector.
Two major problems, that of a downward slope and the natural wall formed by the Carmes Hill, were quickly overcome when a decision was taken to cut a 150-metre wide breach in the hillside in order to accommodate the new street. The 800,000 square metres of excavated earth were used to construct new port buildings.
Work began on the street in 1862 and the demolition and excavation work took two years to complete. 16,000 people were ordered to leave approximately 1,000 homes and the cost of this housing operation came to over one million Francs, more than a third of which was spent on compulsory purchase.
The Rue Impérial was officially opened on 15th August 1864 but the buildings still had to be constructed. These buildings, which were intended as an investment, were constructed in an eclectic style that combined the charm of the Renaissance with the rigor of the Neo-Classical. The people of Marseille, however, were not taken with the buildings despite every floor being provided with utilities such as running water and gas. The promotion of the street proved a complete failure. Also included in this town planning project was the reconstruction of Place Sadi-Carnot and that of Rue Colbert; unfortunately this plan was only partly completed.
The present Rue de la République is a street of outmost importance to Marseille as it connects the south districts to the north districts and is at the centre of the Euroméditerranée project.
(listed in the Additional Inventory of National Heritage Sites in 1926)
The monastery of the Dominican Friars (Order of Preachers) was built at the end of the 16th Century. Building work on the church was started in 1558. It was consecrated in 1619 and dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the middle of the 18th Century the Gérard brothers built the large Romanesque-style façade, the pediment and the upper section of which were removed in 1926 for safety reasons. The monastery was destroyed when the Rue Colbert was opened. The church became a parish church in 1803 and was dedicated to Saint Cannat, the former Bishop of Marseille. As in many other churches in Marseille, Saint Cannat contains precious works of art: the organ case, the polychrome marble high altar, the Notaries' chapel and paintings by the Provençal painter Michel Serre.