The oldest port of Marseille is also the historic heart of the city. Founded in antiquity, the port was the economic centre of the city until the mid-19th century, open to the trade and commerce arriving from across the Mediterranean Sea and the French colonies. A symbol of Marseille, the ancient winding streets of the Old Port district is dotted with art galleries, bars, and cultural centres. The countless renovations and refurbishments of recent years have breathed new life into the city as a whole. The impressive Saint-Jean and Saint-Nicolas forts, built in the Middle Ages to protect the harbour, the imposing 17th-century City Hall, and the Saint-Victor Abbey testify to a rich past, and today share space with glass and steel buildings, and sumptuous squares redesigned in a more contemporary spirit. The old town's nerve centre and an ideal starting point for all tourist routes, the Old Port has lost none of its original lustre. It remains as authentic as its fish market and various small restaurants where you can take a break from your visit and enjoy the typical atmosphere of the premises. This is a meeting place for many locals and without a doubt one of the most popular areas of the city.