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Photo of Toulon history

In Roman times Toulon was known as 'Telo Martius', then Telo, Telonium and finally Toulon. The town was mentioned for the first time in the “Route from Rome to Arles” by Antoninus (II century B.C.) with the name Telone Martio. For some scholars 'Telo' derives from the Greek “telaneion,” indicating a 'place of toll' or ‘scaffolding’, or from the Gallic god Telonium. As for 'Martius', this was the name by which the Romans referred to the colour red - in the Imperial Age at Toulon there was a purple dye-works. But the true origin of the name remains uncertain.

After the fall of the Roman Empire Toulon suffered numerous invasions and it was attacked and plundered by the Arabs between the eighth and twelfth centuries.

It was a possession of the Viscounts of Marseilles, and then Charles of Anjou (1226-1285) and his successors, until it passed to France in 1481. Since 1514, when Louis XII (1462-1515) built a huge tower in the city to defend the port Toulon became the main base of the French fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, and the most advanced position in defence of Provence, with the Faron ('Lighthouse' or 'look-out') used as a watch tower for the sightings of possible enemies.

The city defences arounfd Toulon were further improved by Henri IV (1553-1610) and then again under Louis XIV (1638-1715) who entrusted Vauban (1633-1707) with the task of building an arsenal and strengthening their defences. It was therefore equipped with large shipyards, and it reached its greatest power in the eighteenth century.

In the modern age an important moment in the history of Toulon was the self-destruction, in its harbour of much of the French fleet to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Germans (1942). Today is a tourist town which offers numerous points of interest, including the 'old city', and the beaches and surroundings.

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