The Old Port, mirror of history

Amidst the protective shadow of the Citadelle, under the aegis of the bell tower of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church, the Old Port of Bastia elegantly reveals the reflections of Tuscan buildings that rise in an amphitheater around the cove. Behind the 16th-century Genoese mole, this haven of Mediterranean authenticity preserves its timeless charm. The quays offer curious eyes the colorful facades of houses, polished by sea winds, tightly packed against each other and overlooking the terraces of restaurants and cafes.

Throughout the year, life thrives in this bustling marina where it's good to linger over a drink on the docks, lulled by the rhythm of the café owners, boaters, and fishermen who repair their nets at dawn. This typical and deeply vibrant neighborhood, where yachts and colorful fishing boats mingle, invites you to stroll at any time. On the south quay, the Mantinum, a green theater in the shape of a belvedere, serves as a link between the Old Port and the Citadel, offering an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean.

The Palace of the Governors, witness of the past centuries

The birth of the Castello della Bastia and the history of the Palais des Gouverneurs are closely linked to the creation of Bastia during the Genoese domination of Corsica. While the governors were seated in the village of Biguglia, Leonello Lomellini decided in 1380 to build a small fortification, the Bastia or Castello della Bastia, on a rocky promontory near the Ficaghjola cove and the fishing harbor of Portu Cardu. This fortified place, close to the shore, aimed to promote trade and to welcome reinforcements from Genoa if necessary.

The bastia has a tumultuous history since its creation, changing hands several times before being reclaimed by Genoa in 1437 and remaining under Genoese control until the French conquest. A century after its creation, the modest initial tower became the residence of the governors. The palace, which served as the seat of the court of justice, housed the governor's apartments, a barracks for soldiers, several chapels, and unsanitary prisons, as well as cisterns for water supply. After the French annexation in 1768, the premises were abandoned and the palace subsequently housed the Supreme Council of Corsica, the seat of the departmental directorate and troops from 1794, before being occupied by the Germans and partially destroyed.

The majestic Citadel

In the 14th century, the Genoese founded the Citadel of Bastia, while Biguglia was the capital of Corsica. However, they found this place inconvenient and exposed to danger. Thus, in 1380, the governor Leonello Lomellini decided to build a fort, named Castello della Bastia or Il Fortino, on a rocky spur overlooking two ports. Nowadays, the current Old Port, formerly called Portu Cardu, and the Ficaghjola cove, formerly Portu Vechju, bear witness to it. In 1475, the podestà Antonio Tagliacarne began the construction of about twenty houses, giving birth to the Terra Nova district, in contrast to Terra Vechja, which corresponds to the current district of the Old Port. Nothing remains of the first fortification, but the tower of the Fortino, which gave its emblem to the city, is still present on the coat of arms of Bastia.

The illustrious Cathedral of Saint Mary

Formerly the seat of the diocese of Mariana between 1570 and 1802, the pro-cathedral of Saint Mary in Bastia is a prestigious building. The ceremonies for the transfer of power between governors took place there, and the bishop and governor sat facing each other. Classified as a historical monument since February 3, 2000, it is also called Santa Maria or Santa Marì in Corsican.

The convivial Saint-Nicolas Square

The Saint-Nicolas square is a true meeting place for the people of Bastia, and a space for socializing and relaxation where people of all ages gather. It hosts various events throughout the year and is decorated with a bandstand, while also offering a flea market every Sunday morning. Its name comes from a medieval chapel dedicated to Saint Nicolas, located near a Pisan hospital. The square also features a war memorial and a statue of Napoleon as a Roman emperor.

The picturesque shopping streets

Immerse yourself in the heart of Corsican authenticity and Mediterranean ambiance as you stroll through the charming narrow streets of downtown Bastia. Along these cobbled streets, discover local shops, artist studios, and artisans, as well as local flavors in the numerous restaurants and wine bars. Admire the colorful facades and wrought-iron balconies, which are a testament to the undeniable charm of these alleyways.

The imposing church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Built between 1636 and 1666, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church is the largest in Corsica. Its bell towers were added in the 19th century. The interior of the sanctuary is adorned with numerous works of art, such as the silver tabernacle of the main altar, created by the Sienese goldsmith Gaetano Macchi, and a surprising group of stucco representing the Circumcision of Christ. The impressive swallow's nest organ gallery dates back to 1742 and is decorated with three paintings illustrating scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist. The Feast of Saint John, associated with the summer solstice, is celebrated with a bonfire in Bastia on the evening of June 23, near the ramparts of the Citadel, by the edge of the Vieux-Port basin.

The moving Holy Cross Oratory

During the Genoese period, Bastia was divided into two parishes: Terra Nova, depending on the church of Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption, and Terra Vechja, depending on the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The confraternity of Sainte-Croix, or Santa Croce in Corsican, was the most important of Terra Nova. Its mission was to manage the nearby hospital, called the Genoese hospital, intended for the poor, infirm, and foundlings. This building, long abandoned, has been transformed into a residence.
Known since the beginning of the 15th century, the Sainte-Croix brotherhood had a chapel built in 1542 on a piece of land belonging to the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, with papal authorization. The current oratory was built in 1600, replacing the smaller and destroyed old chapel. Classified as a historical monument in 1931, the Sainte-Croix Oratory bears witness to the religious and social history of Bastia.