In May 1790, the inhabitants of Marseille, who were furious and vindictive because they had to put up with this citadel with its cannons aimed at them, took advantage of the revolution to start demolishing the fort. But a month later, they had to stop the destruction by order of the Assemblée Nationale.
The fort occupies a limestone ridge between the port, Saint Victor abbey and the Pharo. For some time, the construction surrounded the Saint Nicolas chapel built in the Middle Ages, but then it was demolished. The fort consists of two complexes on two levels. The lower part, the forecourt on the port, has been separated since 1862 by the building of the boulevard (today Boulevard Charles Livon). The high fort has two linked walls and the quadrangular plan is attached to the steep slope. The quality of the masonry, large stones of pink limestone from la Couronne, and the work (corner ties with bosses and cordons creating arabesques of countercurves in the slopes) together create an impression of serene power, typical of the style of Chevalier de Clerville.
The complex makes the Saint Nicolas citadel into an « operetta fort » designed to calm the fiery spirit of the inhabitants of Marseille and to assert the authority of a monarch who was well aware of his lack of popularity in a city which had been attached to the crown less than two centuries ago!