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Located in the center of the Panier district in Marseille, La Vieille Charité is a former almshouse built in the 17th century to house the city's destitute poor.
Classified as an historic monument since 1951, the La Vieille Charité almshouse has harmonious architecture that is initially surprising due to its curious composition. The vaulted galleries and the arcades are built in Classical style. The dome over the chapel is Baroque, whereas the Corinthian columns were built later, under the Second Empire. The pink and white stone characteristic of buildings in the region since the Middle Ages comes from the quarry in Couronne, near Marseille.
In the 1940's, the Charité almshouse was neglected by public authorities and fell into ruin. It served as lodgings for many poor families who lived there under deplorable conditions. Renovations began in 1961 and were completed in 1986, following a quarter-century of tedious work.
Today, La Vieille Charité is a special place where city residents and tourists gather, with some of the latter visiting from their stays at the prestigious Hôtel Villa Massalia in Marseille. An extremely active cultural center, La Vieille Charité houses numerous institutions: the Mediterranean Archeology Museum and the Museum of African, Oceanic and Amerindian Art, art galleries, a cinema and a bookstore. Painting and photography exhibits are regularly held there.
Open daily from 10am to 5pm from October 1st to May 31st, and from 11am to 6pm from June 1st to September 30th.Closed Mondays and bank holidays.