Military works of Vallo Alpino, in Tende and La Brigue

Much of the work consists of the underground galleries connecting the entrances and fortified observation and fire stations, which are integrated into the landscape to be as concealed as possible.

Period XX

Accessibility No

Visitable Yes

Vallo Alpino is a defensive mountain line made from 1931 to 1940 by the Italian army in the border towns. In Haute-Roya, the overall design turned towards France, spreads out in an arc on the towns of Tende and La Brigue.

These fortifications use natural or dug caves, or were built of reinforced concrete. They usually have one or two entrances on the front’s back. All the structures on the surface are camouflaged: stones embedded in the concrete, imitation of the forms of rocks, etc.

Vallo Alpino system was divided into 10 sectors (numbered from 1 to 10) divided into sub-sectors, themselves divided into groups of caposaldi (fortifications). Each includes several fortified structures. It consisted of permanent underground or open-air artillery batteries, semi-permanent batteries for medium and large artillery, mixed artillery and infantry, and underground infantry works for the troops. There are also some barracks, some of which were built at the end of the 19th century at Tende’s col, and many of which were built on standard plans around 1936.

The galleries and underground chambers have their vaulted concrete walls generally raised and painted white. The block casemates are covered with a dome or a flat ceiling in slabs on metal girders.

At Tende and La Brigue, the works are spread over two main lines, representing fifteen groups of caposaldi in six sectors.

The first line, to the south, started in 1931, adopts a winding route between the south of La Brigue and west of Tende.

The second line, much less dense, was implemented from 1937. It follows an East-West line between Mount Bertrand and the Sabion massif. It does not include any underground battery, but mixed infantry / artillery.

Dam structures on the ridge between Tende and Limone were built under the front of Fort Central.

Conditions of visit

Numerous sites, variable access conditions, but generally complex, see cartography.

Access by hiking trails, limited to valid people. See cartography on the works and sites referenced further.

Numerous openings in the cliffs (shooting and observation posts), and small camouflaged blockhouses, can be seen from the roads of the two towns, with a watchful eye.

Restricted visits (private properties and danger).


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. Magazine Le Haut -Pays n° 8, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya,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, Magazine Le Haut-Pays n° 34, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya,1995.
  • Gariglio Dario, Minola Mauro. Le fortezze delle Alpi occidentali, T. 2 : dal Monginevro al mare Cuneo. L’Arcière, 1995.
  • Irenée, J. Les fortifications de St Dalmas de Tende. Magazine Le Haut-Pays n°13, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya, 1988.
  • Irenée, J. Des caméléons de béton. Magazine Le Haut-Pays n°18, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya,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.