Citadel of Ajaccio – Finally!

The Miollis citadel finally opened to the public on July 4. It is a major historical event, and particularly symbolic for the Ajaccians. They can now reclaim this little-known place, which has once again become the property of the municipality, after more than 20 years of administrative procedures.

The history of the citadel

Built by the Genoese at the end of the 15th century, it would be the first building in the city of Ajaccio. Much smaller originally, the citadel grew gradually until the end of the 16th century, to become the fortress we know today. It covers more than 2.5 hectares, and encompasses approximately 10,500 m² built in the city center. Historically occupied by the armed forces, its access was almost always restricted, until its recent demilitarization and its handover to the city.

Back on a 20-year project …

Several successive terms of office have tried to appropriate the citadel. In 2005, under Simon Renucci, the municipality had missed the opportunity to acquire the building for the symbolic euro. In question, many long and complex administrative procedures to be finalized upstream: requests for aid, studies, classification as a historic monument, establishment of public contracts, etc. After this failure, the price announced by the Ministry of Defense – 12 million d ‘euros – seemed way too high.

When this file returned to the table, this cost seemed just as insurmountable for the term of office of Laurent Marcangeli . It was only later, and after having completed the various administrative procedures previously mentioned, that new negotiations with the Ministry took place.  able to begin. In 2019, Laurent Marcangeli, mandated by his City Council, was finally able to negotiate the final points of the handover of the citadel. Two months later, the transfer to the municipality was finalized. The mayor of Ajaccio had at the time announced that a small part of the building could be accessible to the public before the end of the year, ahead of its official inauguration… The event was unfortunately delayed by the pandemic.

What price for the citadel in the end?

The State had lastly estimated the cost of the citadel at 2.5 million euros, but took charge of the decontamination of the site, estimated at a little over one million. In the end, the citadel will have cost the city 1.4 million euros, a sum far removed from the 12 million announced upstream. This acquisition was welcomed by all municipal councilors, opposition and majority alike.

Three priorities identified

The city’s elected officials at the time agreed on three essential points concerning the development of the citadel:

  • The place should not « lose its soul », and would be preserved.
  • A global project should be built with the Ajaccians. To do this, a public consultation has been scheduled.
  • Finally, the deed of ownership should remain with the municipality.

There was therefore never any question of selling the citadel to a large group as rumors have spread here and there. On the other hand, the fortress could well accommodate a top-of-the-range tourist structure, with a renewable lease. After a European call for competition, at least two large groups would have positioned themselves: Accor and Hilton. As far as we know, the Accor group would have been selected, the negotiations regarding its establishment within the citadel seem for the moment to have been at least delayed, if not compromised. 

The opening night, July 4

Orchestrated by the SPL Ametarra and the city of Ajaccio, many cultural performances punctuated this inaugural evening, but always with a clearly displayed desire to take root in this emblematic place, such as the possibility of leaving one’s mark in an artistic work destined to remain in the citadel.

  • To read also, our file on the inauguration evening: 

Citadella d’Aiacciu : Apartura !

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