France // Corsica //

The citadelle

“Civitas Calvis Semper Fidelis” – always faithful – reads the inscription of the town’s motto, carved over the ancient gateway into the fortress. The best way of seeing the citadelle is to follow the ramparts connecting the three immense bastions, the views from which extend out to sea and inland to Monte Cinto. Within the walls the houses are tightly packed along tortuous stairways and narrow passages that converge on the place d’Armes. Dominating the square is the Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste, set at the highest point of the promontory. This chunky ochre edifice was founded in the thirteenth century, but was partly destroyed during the Turkish siege of 1553 and then suffered extensive damage twelve years later, when the powder magazine in the governor’s palace exploded. It was rebuilt in the form of a Greek cross. The church’s great treasure is the Christ des Miracles, which is housed in the chapel on the right of the choir; this crucifix was brandished at marauding Turks during the 1553 siege, an act which reputedly saved the day.