Entrance bridge of Sospel
Entrance bridge of Sospel
Main square of Sospel
Sospel - medieval village in the hinterland of Menton
Sospel is located 20 km away from Menton, at approximately 350 m of altitude, at the gate of the Mercantour National Park. With its famous "Pont vieux à péage" (toll old bridge), a fortified bridge from the XIIIth century, one of the very last in Europe, Sospel is a quiet medieval village at the border of the Bévéra river.
Three main touristic sites make this village worth the winding road :
- Le "Pont-Vieux" (old bridge) is certainly the symbol and the most romantic place of the city. This fortified bridge, stepping accross the Bevera which divides the city in two. It was built at the beginning of the XIIIth c. most probably in wood, then reconstructed in stones around 1527. The two arches have apparently been replaced in 1823. According to the tradition, its central tower was used as a toll booth between Piemont and the Mediterranean border, on the famous royal route of salt, between Nice and Torino in Italy. Its two asymetrical arches allowed a water piping system to bring water to the left side of the river. Bringing both sides of the river together, the tower has been used for housing and commerce until 1907. It has been completely restored by the Beaux-Arts in 1953 with on-site material, after damages caused in october 1944 by fights for the libération of valley. The tower currently hosts the Cercle of the Patrimony and Study of Sospel http://www.sospel-patrimoine.org/.
- The Saint Michel Cathedral: located on a place surrounded by houses with Middle Age arcades, it is of Baroque style. The Bell tower of XIth c. is the only building of "Lombardian" epoque. The higher part of the façade is from pre-baroque roman epoque. The two statues inside the niches represent the protectors of Sospel « Saint-Hippolyte & Saint-Absende ». On the left, inside the cathedral can be found the « Virgin Mary of Sospel ». This altarpiece with 3 wings has been constructed by François Bréa member of a Painter family from Nice in the XVth and early XVIth c., and on the right can be found the altarpiece of the Virgin of Mercy sculpted in wood.
- The Saint-Nicolas place : its ancient houses with archway, its medieval fountain and its colored pebble pavement. It goes from the rue de la République to the baroque chapel Sainte Croix (site of baroque concerts in the summer), place of Sainte-Croix.
At 1 kilometer from the center of the village, on the route to Nice, the Saint-Roch fort is an incredible subterrannean city 50m deep. The fort was part of the Alps' Maginot line constructed in the 30s. This military site was constructed to block the Bevera valley, and control the Brouis pass and the exit of the Breil-sur-Roya train tunnel. A funicular was used to transport weapons to the fighting area and artillery rooms. Periscopes allow to have a wonderful view of the surroundings from here.