Castellane square

and its monumental fountain

Located in the 6th district, Castellane  square is one of the nerve centres of the city. It forms the homonymous roundabout which is located between the Vieux-Port and the Prado. Let’s talk about the  history of this square and its indivisible statue that belongs to European Heritage.

A square created thanks to Louis XIV

In the 18th century, King Louis XIV planned to align the ‘Porte d’Aix ‘with ‘la porte de Rôme‘ in the  old remparts of the  city. In responseto  the  Sun King’s request, the rue Rome which ended at the level of the current Prefecture, was extended to the location of the Place Castellane as we  know it today.

The Marquis Henri-César de Castellane-Majastre, who owned the  land, gave it to the town free of  charge in 1774 and thus, gave his  name to the square. At the same time, he offered to finance the development of the square. In this way, in 1798, the first fountain and a washhouse were installed. In 1811, to celebrate the birth of the Emperor Napoleon I ‘s son, an obelisk was added to the square and remained in place, until 1911, then it was moved to the 9th district of Mazargues where it is still visible.

The Cantini foutain, a gift from a rich man from Marseille

Except the fact that this fountain is important for the people of Marseille, the Place Castellane is well known especially for the fountain located in the centre of the square named ‘Cantini’. At the beggining of the 20th century, a rich marber, Jules Cantini wanted to offer a gorgeous fountain to the city. Its realization was entrusted to André Allar, an  artist  from Toulon between 1911 and 1913. This monumental set is an amazing 25  meters high designed in marble of Carrara. A real architectural achievement! You  can see the square from a distance and it certainly adds a presence to the roundabout.

The statues of the Cantini fountain

Four large statues are located at the bottom of the foutain. The first three evokes the Mediterranean Sea and three rivers of the Provence – La Durance, the Verdon and the Rhône. The forth one  represents the statue of Marseille turned towards the  open Sea, it  dominates the building and on  its base are the  stages of the Rhône, from its source  to the sea. Each sculpture draws its inspiration from the work of a well known  artist: the Trevi  fountain, Lorenzo, Bernini,Français Rude and Raoul Larche. To thank André Allar, the sculpture in charge of the Cantini fountain, the  city of Marseille appointed him correspondent of the city’s Academy.

‘Place Castellane’ in the midst of change

From 2023, the square will be returned to pedestrians, thanks to the extension of the tramway line : 3. Which will connect ‘Capitaine Gèze’ (in the  15th district in the north of the city) to Saint Marguerite hospital (9th district in the south of the city).The second  period of  work will connect ‘la Rouvière’ (South) and Castellane (North). So it won’t be a roundabout anymore but a new pedestrian area. In that way, an esplanade and shaded terraces will appear and will make Castellane transform into a new relaxing  and friendly spot in the heart of the city. A change to be followed with attention by the Marseille Aix Provence Metropolis which is in charge of the plan!

A lively and bustling district

‘Place Castellane’ is open on three big axis. Firstly, Rome street is a lively shopping street which often attracts teenagers and young  adults searching for highly coveted pieces that defy all competition. Secondly, Avenue du Prado with its wide shaded pavements that  welcomes one of the main markets of Marseille. Every morning, this market gathers more than 80 exponents who offer fruits and vegetables, flowers, local product … Thirdly, Baille Boulevard that joins the La Timone district.