An elaborate monument commemorating the completion of an important canal, critical to the life of the city.
A celebration of water.
Marseille is on the sea, but drought as well as epidemics devastated the city in the 19th century, prompting a complex engineering feat which after more than 15 years of construction finally brought water to the city from the Durance River in the Alps via an 80-kilometre canal as well as 18 aqueducts and various underground conduits. The Palais Longchamps took even longer to complete - 30 years - and was inaugurated in 1869, embellished with sculptures of allegories to life and fetility, and its central fountain known as the Château d'Eau. The Palais and its vicinity are a cultural nucleus, including museums of the fine arts and natural history, as well as the botanical gardens, zoo, and even an astronomical observatory which still plays a role in scientific analysis as well as opens its doors to the public.