Napoleon defines Ajaccio – hear him in the squares, see him in the streets, in history… Corsica’s golden beaches and fine forests make this a great spot for nature lovers. Ajaccio is the capital of the territory of Corsica, the island off the shores of France and Italy. It is best known as the birth place of none other but Napoleon Bonaparte!
It is the largest city in Corsica and it is located along its west coast at the foot of wooded hills, on the northern shore of the Gulf of the same name.
It is very near to beaches, mountains and gorges, and can be easily explored on foot.
You can notice (and are reminded of wherever you look) that it’s Napoleon’s birthplace in many squares, streets, statues and plazas that pay homage to this conqueror who never returned home.
Port of Ajaccio
A Little Bit of History
The magnificent gulf of Ajaccio encouraged the first ancient inhabitants to settle here. There are remains that date back to the 3rd century AD, which suggest Roman occupation.
The city changed hands throughout history and the establishment of Genoese colony in the 12th century made this town prosperous. Genoese chose this port to set up a new port to provide protection on the sea route between Calvi and Bonifacio.
The Citadel was built in 1492, and in 1502 the strong, defensive walls were built around the town. It was under the rule of the Genoese until it was conquered by Sampiero Corso in 1553.
The Citadel was modified and extended by the French. The island passed back to the Genoese with the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559. In 1768 France was given the control of Ajaccio.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio in 1769, just as the Genoese gave Corsica to the French.
His father was the Corsican Representative to the Royal Court of Louis XVI (the famous one who lived in the Palace of Versailles, the magnificent court outside Paris, who was guillotined in the French Revolution).
He was of the noble Genoese origin, and his mother Letizia was a very strong and important influence in his life.
Napoleon completed the Ecole Militaire (Military School) in Paris, and quickly showed a gift for defeating anybody he wanted.
He rose to power rather quickly (propelled by the famous battle at Toulon where he was wounded), and became the Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815.
He had a great talent of making enemies. He basically turned the whole of the continental Europe against himself by conquering most of it in a very short period.
It took six coalitions to finally defeat him, and you will surely remember the names of places where he famously lost huge battles – Waterloo, Leipzig etc….
However, his very famous victory happened at Austerlitz where he destroyed a large coalition of enemies, and this resulted in two unforgettable events.
- He ordered the construction of Arc de Triomphe in Paris (yes, that Arc de Triomphe), and
- This also finally put an end to the Holy Roman Empire which spanned hundreds of years.
A pretty disruptive, art-loving character, wouldn’t you say?
Old Town of Ajaccio
But his biggest undoing came when he wanted to conquer Russia, where most of his army froze to death, and thereafter the decline of his power started never to be revived again.
He is famous for introducing so many changes into the European (and basically the world’s) legal administration and culture, most famously through the Napoleonic Code, the civil code which abolished privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion and many other far reaching rules.
He ended up exiled on the island of Elba, and after not liking it, he escaped, rallied up the army again, picked up a new fight, and lost in grand style at the battle of Waterloo, whereupon he was finally sent to the island of St Helen, never to return.
Aside from its most famous citizen’s turbulent endeavors, this port and Corsica as a whole are really great places to visit.
You can enjoy the island’s natural beauty by strolling along its waterfront promenade or walking along the quaint streets.
Corsican food has a great influence of the Italian and French cuisines. Locally produced cheese has a unique and delicious taste.
Corsicans are fun lovers and there is always something going on in Ajaccio, from simple village fairs to elaborate firework display.
Where is Ajaccio?
- 92.5 miles/ 149 km from Bastia, Corsica, France
- 86.9 miles/ 140 km from Porto-Vecchio, Corsica, France
- 42.2 miles/68 km from Propriano, Corsica, France
- 102.5 miles/ 165 km from Calvi, Corsica, France
- 155.9 miles/ 251 km from Nice, France
- 131.1 miles/ 211 km from Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
- 103.1 miles/ 166 km from Alghero, Sardinia, Italy
- 4.3 miles/ 7 km from Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport, Corsica, France
- 75.8 miles/ 122 km from Figari-Sud Corse Airport, Corsica, France
- 101.9 miles/ 164 km from Calvi-Sainte-Catherine Airport, Corsica, France
- 82.6 miles/ 133 km fro Bastia-Poretta Airport, Corsica, France
- St. Francois Beach
- Plage du Ricanto
- Plage d’Agosta
- Plage de Stagnoli
- Iles Sanguinaires
- Introductory tour to Ajaccio
- Le Petit Train d’Ajaccio
Ajaccio is a fascinating town and its spellbinding beauty captures the visitor in awe.
Though it is most famous as the well-known Emperor’s birthplace, it is full of treasures that inspire interest even in mundane things.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!