The Genoese Fort of Tabarka reopened its doors to the public on Independence Day 2016, after a closure that lasted 30 years, thanks to the initiative of the Association of History and Monuments of Tabarka (AHMT).
Tabarka’s natural wealth and commercial potential earned it the covetousness of many settlers. The first fortifications of the promontory form the first castle mound, then the Spaniards, outsmarting the Ottoman corsairs, established a presidio there for coral fishing.
In 1542 the very powerful family of Genoese bankers, the Lomellini, took command of the fort with the agreement of the King of Sicily, representative of Charles V. It was a counterpart to the war debts that the Spaniards had contracted and also a gratuity for the capture of Dragut, famous corsair, right arm of Kheirredine Barbarossa, captured by the Genoese off the coast of Corsica.
Governed by numerous administrative regulations, the island is organized around the authority of the Lomellini and the Church. Gradually, to face the many risks that threaten the prosperity of the island, the fortifications continue to rise: the Genoese fort of Tabarka becomes what it is today, a rock on which all attempts to attack ended in failure.
The Genoese will then seek to cede their counter to the French without however notifying the Bey of Tunis.
In his rage, he sends his fleet to attack the island. But it is by trickery that his nephew will bring the island to its knees: he invites all the dignitaries of the island on board, then throws them into the galley and sacks the rock: we are in 1742 and it is the end of the Genoese counter.
Ali Pasha will retain control over the fishing activity and the coral trade until 1781, when the French set up the Royal African Company there. During the protectorate, the French settled outside the walls of the fort and built a city of European type, it is the Tabarka that we know, facing the almost island. During the Second World War, the Free French troops used the fort as a base closing the maritime access between Tunisia and Algeria.