Art and culture

The Great Saint Bernard Valley was an important communication road towards Switzerland as early as Roman times, and traces of the Roman road, along which traffic ran from the 1st century A.D. onwards, can still be seen on the pass that leads into Switzerland.

With regard to the Middle Ages, a particularly important role was played by the Hospice, and the "Château Verdun", built in the 10th century in the municipality of Saint-Oyen, donated by Amedeo III of Savoia to the Canons of the Great Saint Bernard Hospice, who used it as a place of rest. The building, which features interesting architectural details and fine furnishings, is used to welcome individuals and groups in search of a peaceful, spiritual experience.

Also to be found here are the residences of numerous noble families who ruled the various fiefs scattered around the area: the Castle of the Lords ofBosses in Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses, Ayez House in Allein, the Gignod Tower, the Tornalla tower of Valpelline and the unique only octagonal shaped tower of Oyace, which legend has it was built by a group of Saracens that had sought refuge in the area.

Especially interesting is the mediaeval village of Étroubles, ideal for a pleasant day out strolling amid the little cobbled streets, watching the fresh water from Mont Vélan springing from the fountains and admiring the recently restored houses built in local stone with stone tiles on the roofs, the enormous fifteenth-century bell tower and the nineteenth century church with its splendid frescoes.

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