Top historic sites in Corsica

Calvi Citadel

The Genoese Citadel is the main part of the town of Calvi, and its most important historical monument. It was a military outpost in the 15th century that helped guard the city against attacks from Franco-Turkish raiders to Anglo-Corsican armies. Inside the battlements, don’t miss the well-proportioned Caserne Sampiero, a military barracks that once served as the Genoese administration's seat of power, and the 13th-cen ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Calvi, France

Maison Bonaparte

La Maison Bonaparte is the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family. It is located on the Rue Saint-Charles in Ajaccio on the French island of Corsica. The house was almost continuously owned by members of the family from 1682 to 1923. Napoleon Bonaparte"s great-great-grandfather Giuseppe Bonaparte first moved into the Casa Buonaparte in 1682. Originally, the house was partitioned between differ however, after ...
Founded: 1682 | Location: Ajaccio, France

Ajaccio Cathedral

The present Ajaccio cathedral was built between 1577 and 1593 and is attributed to Italian architect Giacomo della Porta. It was built to replace the former Cathedral of Saint-Croix, destroyed in 1553 in order to make room for developments in the city"s defenses, as stated in the permit required by the Council of Ancients in 1559 to the Senate of Genoa and Pope Gregory XIII in order to build a new cathedral. ...
Founded: 1577-1593 | Location: Ajaccio, France

Ajaccio Citadel

Ajaccio, which is set at the top of a gulf, has been inhabited since Ancient times. From the 12th century onwards, the Genoese, wishing to establish a base of operations to support Calvi and Bonifacio in defending them against the threat from the Barbary Coast, built a fortification on the site, named Castel Lombardo. Unfit for habitation, the position was abandoned three centuries later in 1492-1493 in favour of Capo di ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Ajaccio, France

Bastia Citadel

The Governor"s Citadel and Palace in Bastia dates back to the 14th century. The former palace of the Genoese governors houses the municipal museum, formerly the Ethnology Museum of Corsica.Abutting the old fortress tower and decorated with a 14th-century campanile, the Palace of Governors over the centuries guarded Terra Nova and beyond the ramparts of the Old Port. The city has undertaken a program of renovation o ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bastia, France

Corte Citadel

A small town in the heart of Corsica, Corte was the capital of the island (from 1755-1769 under Pasquale Paoli). Jutting out above the Tavignano and Restonica Rivers, and the cobbled alleyways of the Haute Ville, the citadel’s oldest part is the château – known as the Nid d’Aigle (Eagle’s Nest) – built in 1419. The 19th-century barracks now houses the tourist office and the Museu di a Corsica, a must-see f ...
Founded: 1419 | Location: Corte, France

Filitosa

Filitosa is a megalithic site in southern Corsica, France. The period of occupation spans from the end of the Neolithic era and the beginning of the Bronze Age, until around the Roman times in Corsica. The site was discovered in 1946 by the owner of the land, Charles-Antoine Cesari. Finds of arrow heads and pottery date earliest inhabitation to 3300 BC. Around 1500 BC, 2-3 metre menhirs were erected. They hav ...
Founded: 3300 BCE | Location: Sollacaro, France

Algajola Citadel

Algajola is an ancient Genoese fortress dating back to the 16th century. The Ottomans, who sacked Algajola in 1643, obliged the Genoese to destroy the fortress. Genoa built a new castle in 1664. Today, the Algajola Castle is one of the main tourist attractions of this town.
Founded: 1664 | Location: Algajola, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.