Napoleon Bonaparte hailed from the French Island of Corsica, and today one can still visit his old ancestral home on the idyllic island. Maison Bonaparte - also called the Casa Buonaparte - is the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family and today is a museum. The Maison Bonaparte is one of the many places one should take the time to visit while in Corsica.
Not far from Corsica, one can also visit the Italian island of Elba - where Napoleon was first exiled before he managed to escape and return to France. Napoleon was a man who profoundly influenced and changed the world - while he was ultimately defeated, the impacts of his campaigns and reforms continue to be felt to this day.
The History Of The Bonaparte Family In The Maison Bonaparte
The Bonaparte family was of Italian extraction and was from a minor noble family. Their history in Corsica goes back to the late 15th century when Francesco Bonaparte moved to the island.
- First Bonaparte Owner: Giuseppe Buonaparte
- Owned: By The Bonapartes From 1682 to 1923
The Maison Bonaparte was almost continuously owned by members of the Bonaparte family from 1682 to 1923. It was Giuseppe Buonaparte (older spelling) - Napoleon's great-great-grandfather, that first moved to the home in 1682.
The local Corsican custom was to subdivide houses between a significant number of people. Originally the house was partitioned with different families having different parts of it, but Giuseppe married Maria Colonna di Bozzi - who owned part of the building. He then bought the rest of the sections of the house. The Maison Bonaparte is a large but simple residence.
History Of Napoleon In The Maison Bonaparte
Napoleon and many of his siblings (Joseph Bonaparte was born in Corte) were born in the house. In total, Napoleon's parents had twelve children (eight of whom survived). The Bonapartes were wealthy landowners, and their revenues were from their lands and farms.
- Born: 15 August 1769
At one point, the Bonapartes had to flee the house, and British officers were billeted there, but they soon returned after they left.
Napoleon visited his ancestral home while returning from his eventful campaign in Egypt in 1799 - he never visited Corsica again. Napoleon died during his second exile on the island of St. Helens in the mid-Atlantic in 1821. He was later reburied in 1840 in the Les Invalides in Paris - where one can see his tomb today.
- “Chambre de l'Alcôve:” The Room Napoleon Is Thought To Have Stayed In Returning From Egypt
Eventually, the house was donated to the French government, and in 1967 the house was made into a museum and has been declared a national museum.
Visiting The Maison Bonaparte Today
The Maison Bonaparte is located in Ajaccio on Rue-Saint-Charles on the island of Corsica and is now open to the public. It is a small museum and an easy activity while staying in Ajaccio (the regional capital of the island of Corsica).
- Donated: To The French Government In 1923
- Museum: Opened In 1967
The visit to the Maison Bonaparte starts on the second floor. Here one will learn about the history of Corsica in the 18th century then one will learn about Napoleon's parents - Charles and Letizia. The next room has exhibits about Napoleon and his brothers and sisters. Another room is about the history of the family during the Second Empire and Napoleon III and Eugénie's travels.
The first floor has the family's rooms, including the drawing room, the dining room, the gallery, Madame Mere's bedroom, the boudoir, and the room where Napoleon was born.
There is also a cellar to explore with other exhibits.
- Address: Rue Saint-Charles 20000 Ajaccio (Southern Corsica)
- Accessible: Ok For People With Limited Mobility
- 1 October to 31 March: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 1.15 pm to 4.30 pm
- 1 April to 30 September: 10.30 to 12.30 pm and from 1.15 pm to 6.00 pm
- Closed: Mondays, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day
One can also book tickets and tours online; like many other places in this part of the Mediterranean, shops and attractions tend to close over lunchtime.