Ajaccio is the capital city on the French island of Corsica. It is situated by the side of a large bay on the island’s west coast. Facing south it is sheltered by the mountains lying to the north which makes it popular as an all-year round holiday destination. Ajaccio functions as a seaport and a seaside resort.
In Ajaccio one can see many reminders that Napoleon was born here, including Casa Buonaparte which is the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family. It is located on the Rue Saint-Charles in Ajaccio. In 1967, the house was made into a museum and declared a national museum.
Ajaccio’s central square is the Place General de Gaulle, here can be found a statue of Napoleon on horseback surrounded by his four brothers. There is also a large fountain which is illuminated by night. Also close by is the Casino which overlooks the beach and several cafes where one can indulge in a pastis in true Corsican style. From the Place General de Gaulle one comes to the Cours Grandval, the town’s main boulevard which is lined with palms and plane trees.
On the Place Marechal Foch is the Town Hall containing the Napoleonic Museum. The square opens out onto the main harbour with the Quai l’Herminier where the passenger ships dock and the Quai Napoleon. On the right is the Citadelle around which the Old Town grew. The main part of the Old Town is sandwiched between the Place General de Gaulle and the Citadelle. The three main streets are Rue Bonaparte, the Rue du Roi de Rome and the Rue Forcioli-Conti. On the corner of the Rue du Roi de Rome is the 14th century church of St John the Baptist, once home to Ajaccio’s oldest monastic community. On the Rue Bonaparte is the Maison Bonaparte distinguished by the Bonaparte coat of arms above the door. Here Napoleon was born on the 15th August 1769. Close by is the Cathedral, on the Rue Forcioli-Conti, containing the white marble font in which Napoleon was baptised. The high altar of white and coloured marble was donated by one of Napoleon’s sisters. The Cathedral was built between 1554 and 1593 and is dedicated to Our lady of Mercy.
Along the harbour front from the Citadel, the fish market provides some interesting insights into Corsican life. One can continue from here through the narrow streets of the Old Town. At the end of the Old Town is the Palais Fesch dating back to the time of Napoleon lll, it houses the many treasures bequeathed to the town by Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Fesch.
Visitors are also recommended to go on a tour of the hillside behind the town which includes the lookout point on Monte Salario to the south-west and the former Bonaparte country residence of Milelli to the north-west.
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