Toulon, a seaport city of France, in the department of Var, Provence, at the head of a double bay of the Mediterranean, in lat. 43° 7' N., Ion. 5° 56' E., 30 m. S. E. of Marseilles; pop. in 1872, 69,127. It stands upon ground which rises gradually from the sea, and is sheltered by a ridge of mountains, extending round the bay. A tongue of land stretches nearly across the entrance of the bay, and, together with all the adjacent points, is strongly fortified. The city has been much enlarged within the last generation, and the new northern quarter is a great improvement upon the old parts of the town. It is especially rich in fountains, trees, and promenades. The cathedral and other old and new churches, the fine town hall, the military and naval schools, as well as the new palace of justice and the new theatre, are all eclipsed by the magnitude of the military port. It is the largest in the Mediterranean and one of the most admirable of the kind, extending over 240 acres, and surrounded by vast buildings, the arsenal, and floating docks, and connected with the supplementary arsenals of Castigneau and Mourillon; and it contains a bagnio for prisoners sentenced to transportation.
The adjoining commercial port is bounded by a quay, which is the most active part of Toulon. Ship building is largely carried on, but trade and industry are chiefly supported by the military and naval works, which employ 10,000 men. - Toulon was known as a harbor under the Romans, then called Telo Martius. In the middle ages it suffered from the Saracens. The fortifications were first projected as a defence against pirates. Under Louis XIV. they became celebrated, withstanding in 1707 a combined attack by the English and Dutch fleets and a land army under Prince Eugene; and they were extended under Napoleon III. In 1793 the English gained possession of Toulon, but were besieged by the troops of the convention, and finally driven out (Dec. 19), under the direction of Bonaparte, who first established his reputation on this occasion. In revenge for the previous surrender of the royalist inhabitants to a foreign power, the town was given up to pillage and massacre.