A jewel in its box...
A real postcard landscape on the western coast of Corsica, Girolata can be found on the edge of the Scandola reserve in a small, well-sheltered gulf.
Its exceptional landscapes and its particular location - it can only be reached on foot or by boat - make it an extraordinary site.
It is a place to contemplate the grandiose landscape of the Gulf of Porto, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Even today, the small hamlet of Girolata and its port nestled at the end of the bay are only accessible by boat or on foot.
No road has ever been built there.
This originality and the proximity of Scandola make it a major tourist attraction on the Corsican coast.
An isolated charm
The small hamlet of a few dozen houses, once occupied by fishermen and shepherds from the Dui Sevi and the Niolu, has now been transformed into a tourist village.
Above the beach of Cavone, a beautiful wheat field and the traces of numerous terraced cultivations are the signs of a past agricultural activity.
Since 1983, the Gulf of Girolata has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Calanche de Piana and the Scandola Reserve.
Girolata is accessible by sea from Porto.
On the land side, it takes two hours to walk to Girolata from the Col de la Croix or 5 hours from the village of Galeria.
For hikers, Girolata is a stop on the Mare e monti nord trail which links Calenzana to Cargèse.
An unusual situation
Like the Breton abers or the Norwegian fjords, the Gulf of Girolata is situated on the bed of a very ancient glacial valley progressively covered by the sea as the water level rose.
After a volcano exploded 300 million years ago, a large collapse crater was formed.
It creates cliffs of volcanic rock of exceptional height on its edge, reaching up to 600 metres at Capu Seninu.
This is where you will discover Girolata...
In the Middle Ages, Girolata was considered a very strategic place because it was very isolated and protected. It has fresh water and offers the possibility to watch the entrance of the gulf from the rocky promontory.
At that time, the Barbary pirates did not hesitate to stop there in complete peace.
It was here that Barbarossa's famous protégé, Dragut (or Turgut Reis), was captured in 1540 by Giovanni Doria, nephew of Andrea Doria.
This Ottoman admiral and privateer, feared by all his enemies for his seafaring qualities and his military genius, was taken prisoner at Girolata.
After this episode, the decision was taken to fortify the promontory. At first, only a simple rectangular tower was built (mid 16th century) .
Over time, a platform bordered by a polygonal enclosure was added, as well as another tower embedded in the first, and a barbican... until this strongly defended fortress was formed in the first quarter of the 17th century.e century.
This highly original architecture, very different from other Genoese defensive monuments in Corsica, has been the subject of extensive archaeological excavations.
Following archaeological excavations, restoration work is planned for the fortress, in particular in order to restore the integrity of the enclosure, which was breached in the 19th century.
Today, the fortress is being restored with a view to opening it to the public in the near future.