Fortification system of Tende’s col at the end (19th century)

Each of the six forts is located on a dominant and open site, surrounded by alpine pastures, snow-covered in winter. Their position is more or less offset from the crest towards the south slope, with the exception of the large barracks of Fort Central, which is slightly shifted towards the north slope.

Period Nineteenth

Accessibility No

Visitable No

The project of entrenched camp between Cuneo and Roya responded to a strategic need born in 1860, annexation of the County of Nice to France, placing the French-Italian border south of the towns of Tende and La Brigue.

It was initiated in 1871, but built and modified ten years later. The opening of the Tende’s col road tunnel in 1882 made it necessary to set up a military control system for this facilitated passage to Piedmont.

The “entrenched camp” of the Tende’s col is organized on two lines of defense.

1) Next to the ridge, four batteries (strong) on ​​7 km: from west to east, the forts of Giaure, Pernante, Central and Pepin.
2) Below Roya side, on both sides of the road leading to the tunnel, two batteries distant 3 km in advanced position: Forts Marguerie and Tabourde.

A large barracks are located near Fort Central.

The site of the central fort was launched in 1881 and completed in 1883. The construction of the five other works followed.

They are stone masonry works, typical of their time, surrounded by moats and accessible by a drawbridge, roughly rectangular or pentagonal, with several fronts of attack towards Roya valley, armed with guns and protected by glacis (sloping faces and weeds), as well as a “front de gorge” (facing the enemy rear facade) where the entrance and barracks are located, equipped with battlements for close defense fire. The various vaulted casemates (rooms) are connected by subterranean or masonry corridors on the surface covered with grassy protective embankments.

With the exception of Fort Central, which asserts its presence by a large Roya side façade, above the road, the accompanying works are more discreet in the landscape.

The building materials were extracted on site, mostly white limestone or granite.

During the first world war, the works were disarmed for the benefit of the Austrian front. Then, these stale forts in the face of advances in artillery were used only as ammunition reserves and for the cantonment of troops.

During the 1930s, the Valle Alpino fortification program (blockhouse infantry works for machine guns) implanted numerous batteries in the sector of Tende and La Brigue. Some were added to the former nineteenth century entrenched camp.

Conditions of visit

From Tende : pedestrian access, from RD 6204 road, by the old col’s road. SUV access in the summer by Castérino and Peyrefique.

From Limone: summer car access from E74 road.

SUV access to some forts (see tourist office), otherwise the approach is reserved to valid people, because of the nature of the pedestrian route.

Restricted access (town’s private property and potential danger inside)


Additional information


  • Bagnaschino Davide, Il Vallo Alpino a Cima Marta, Atene Edizioni, Arma di Taggia, 2002.
  • Bagnaschino Davide, Corino Pier Giorgio, Alta Roja fortificata, Dal campo trincerato del Tenda sino alle opere in caverna del Vallo Alpino. Associazione per gli studi di storia e architettura militare. Melli Borgone, 2001.
  • Banaudo, José. Une randonnée en Haute-Roya, les forts du Col de Tende. Le Haut Pays, journal de la Roya Bevera, n° 8, 1986.
  • Corino, Pier Giorgio, L’opera in caverna del Vallo Alpino, Associazione per gli studi di storia e architettura militare. Edizioni Melli – Borgone,1995.
  • Corino, Pier Giorgio, Materiale da fortificazione del Vallo. Dans : Pietra e Acciaio, Edizioni Melli – Borgone, 1999.
  • Duvivier, A la découverte d’une forteresse montagnarde, les Balcons de Marte. Le Haut Pays, journal de la Roya Bevera, n° 34, 1995.
  • Gariglio Dario, Minola Mauro. Le fortezze delle Alpi occidentali [Les forteresses des Alpes occidentales]. T. 2 : dal Monginevro al mare Cuneo : L’Arcière, 1995.
  • Irenée, J. Les fortifications de St Dalmas de Tende. Le Haut Pays, journal de la Roya Bevera, n° 13, 1988.
  • Irenée, J. Des caméléons de béton. Le Haut Pays, journal de la Roya Bevera, n° 18, mai 1990.
  • Raybaud Claude, Fortifications de l’époque moderne dans les Alpes-Maritimes, Éditions Serre (collection L’Ancre solaire), Nice, 1992.
  • Raybaud Claude, Fortifications françaises et italiennes dans les Alpes-Maritimes, Éditions Serre (collection Equilibres), Nice, 2002.
  • Raybaud Claude, Kermarrec Alain, Babault Jean-Claude, Les blockhaus de la Haute Roya, Editions du Losange, Nice, 2011.
  • Robotti Massimo, Il grande forte del colle di Tenda, Mauro Fantino Editore, Borgo San Dalmazzo, 2012.