Corte, Corsica - historical capital in the mountains

Photo of Corte

Visit Corte

A small town in the heart of Corsica, Corte was the capital of the island (from 1755-1769 under Pasquale Paoli - a name you will hear often in Corsica).

As well as being an interesting town in itself Corte is in a great location for exploring the mountains, valleys and scenery of central Corsica and the surrounding Natural Park.

Exploring Corte

As you arrive in Corte it is the dramatic citadel sitting on top of a rocky outcrop above the town and the Tavignano valley that first grabs your attention. In fact there is not much to see when you walk up to the citadel, though this is home to the tourist office and a museum of Corsica. However don't miss the nearby viewing platform which provides excellent views not just of the citadel and the town but also of the surrounding mountains in which Corte is set.

Corte

Near to the citadel the National Palace was once the seat of the independant Corsican government. It now houses various temporary exhibitions. Below the citadel the main town is along one street with steep steps leading up to houses and shops up the slope. A lot of the town is slightly dilapidated but it has a faded charm and is of course surrounded by fantastic mountain scenery.

Corte street

One of the liveliest parts of town is the area by the Fontaine des Quatre Canons and the wide steps, the Rampe Sainte Croix,  that run up from here with a number of restaurants and bars along the way. At the top is the church of Santa Croix which has a very pretty interior. It is painted white with the paintings on the ceiling and lots of bright blue and gold details.

Santa Croix church

The centre of the town is around Place Gaffori with a statue of General Gaffori in front of the building where he once lived. Jean-Pierre Gaffory was the head of the Corsican government from 1730 to 1750 before Pascal Paoli. Gaffori was assassinated by the Genoese.

Whilst here take a look inside the 15th century Church of the Annunciation and admire the attractive pulpit. Its tall belltower is quite distinctive as you approach Corte from the surrounding countryside.

Corte is also home to the University of Corsica, and approximately 30% of the population are students at the university.

Corte has been classified as a Napoleonic town since 2015 as Napoleaon Bonaparte, who was born in nearby Ajaccio, spent various holidays here. He often met Pasquale Paoli who was the leader of independent Corsica in the mid 18th century.

Attractions nearby

Much of the appeal of Corte for visitors is its location and easy access to magnificent scenery. The region falls within the Corsica Natural Parc.

There are walks for all standards of fitness and enthusiasm, and all will bring you in touch with the 'wild side' of Corsica. See hiking in Corsica for 'serious' paths including the renowned GR20

We suggest a visit to the Gorges de la Restonica to the south of Corte for an easier walk and a bathe in a freshwater pool, or head west towards the Gorges du Tavignau. The tourist office can point you in the right direction for these and other local trails.

If you follow the Tavignau Valley, a mere three hours walk from Corte you can see the Arche de Padule (arche de corte), a natural granite arch set in a prominent location in the mountains:

See also:

Map of Corte & places nearby

Selected places to visit in or near Corte, Corsica