Ruins of Talietumu Fortress – Mata-Utu, Wallis and Futuna - Atlas Obscura

Ruins of Talietumu Fortress

Mata-Utu, Wallis and Futuna

The final stronghold of a king whose feet never touched the ground. 


In the middle of the 10th century, the natives of the remote island of Tonga got ambitious, and began moving in on neighboring islands. At its height, the empire of Tonga spread far beyond their tiny island home, possibly stretching from Niue to Tikopia.

The fortifications of Takitumu on Wallis Island were built as this era of expansion was coming to a close around 1450. The stone walls surround a ceremonial center platform, restored in the 1990s by French archaeologists Daniel Frimigacci, Jean-Pierre Siorat and Maurice Hardy. Raised walkways surrounding the site were for use only by the king, who, in his exalted state, could not touch the ground like lesser mortals.

Now in ruins, Takitumu is thought to have been the final holdout of the Tongan empire, which came to an end in 1535 with the assassination of king Takalaua while swimming in the lagoon of Mu’a, the ancient capital of Tonga.

Located in the South Pacific between Tuvalu and Fiji, Wallis and Fortuna were first seen by European explorers from Britain and the Netherlands in the 17th century. The territory was claimed by France in 1842. Today they are a French overseas collectivity made up of three volcanic islands. Wallis is also notable for the dramatic volcanic crater lake of Lake Lalolalo.

Know Before You Go

Talietumu is located about 5.6 mi southwest of the capital of Mata-Utu

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