Corsican Heritage

Corsica : a bit of History

Corsica's heritage reveals a very ancient human occupation: archaeological sites dating back several millennia before our era still fascinate archaeologists today. The megaliths on the site of Filitosa bear witness to the existence of an ancient Corsican civilisation, with its own rites and culture.

Throughout the Middle Ages, from the 5th to the 11th century, Corsica was marked by invasions, attacks and pillaging by Ostrogoths, Vandals and Moorish pirates. The Corsican flag with the Moor's head takes its origin from the struggles that the inhabitants had to lead at that time and from the legends that arose during these turbulent centuries

The successive occupations of the Pisans and Genoese, respectively from the 11th to the 13th century, then from the 13th to the 18th century, were each marked by the construction of an important heritage: mainly religious during the Pisan era, then also defensive and urban during the five centuries of Genoese domination.

Between Corsica's desire for independence and the attempts of French invasion, the Republic of Genoa was mishandled on several occasions. Spanning 14 years from 1755 to 1769, the only period of Corsican independence in modern history is linked to the figure of Pascal Paoli.

The Versailles agreements signed in 1768 between Genoa and the kingdom of France allowed Louis XV, the following year, to take Corsica, although it had only recently gained independence.

This year 1769 was also the year of Napoleon's birth in Ajaccio. Very attached to his island and a fervent admirer of Paoli, the future emperor would nevertheless position himself for his attachment to France.

The island of Beauty will still be marked in its history by the Second World War: invaded by the German and Italian armies, it will also be the first French territory to be liberated, in 1943.

Heritage and culture in Corsica

Corsica's built heritage bears witness to its prestigious and eventful past.

The archaeological site of Filitosa reveals a very ancient human occupation: it is internationally renowned for its great concentration of menhir statues dating from the Bronze Age. In the mountains, the steep villages, built on rocky spurs and difficult to access, are a reminder that the Corsican populations had to protect themselves for centuries from looting and attempted invasions.

The period of Genoese occupation contributed greatly to the architectural landscape of the island, with the citadels of Calvi and Bastia, as well as the incredible network of watchtowers and defensive towers built on the coast between the sea and the mountains. About sixty of them are still clearly visible today.

Religious buildings are legion on the island. From the Pisan occupation to the last days of the Genoese Republic, they show a variety of architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic and above all Baroque, with the influence of the Italian Renaissance.

Corsica's heritage is also largely intangible: it is a language, songs, traditions, legends, and a rich gastronomy based on ancestral cultures such as chestnuts, olives and vines.