The church

Built near the river’s mouth, the Church of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer held an important strategic position, as a matter of fact, at the time of its construction, between the 9th and the 12th century, pirates and Saracens were attacking the coast.

The church towers over the village and it is visible from 6 miles away. It is a true fortress formed of a single, straight, unadorned 50-foot-high nave. The roof is encircled by the ramparts walk, with battlements and machicolations, and served as a watchtower. The choir and the apse are surmounted by a semicircular space which was the guards’ room and it is now known as the “upper chapel ". The church also served as a refuge for the inhabitants of the city and, inside, even a well is found. Today, the statue of St. Sara, a major figure of the Gypsy cultural tradition, is kept in the crypt, just beside a pagan altar from the 4th century BC.

Visit the website of the Sanctuary of Saintes Maries de la Mer