Saint-Marc de Piène-Haute Church, former parish church

The main facade of the Saint-Marc church overlooks a small square at the end of Piène-Haute. Its apse and presbytery are based on a steep cliff, 200 m above the Roya river. A narrow rocky passage leads to the old castle to the north.

Typology Building

Period Eighteenth, XVII

Accessibility No

Visitable Yes

The Saint-Marc de Piène-Haute church was rebuilt in its current configuration at the beginning of the 18th century. Piène was then attached to the Republic of Genoa.

It can be reached by the square it overlooks by a double monumental staircase with porch.

The facade of the church is massive, sober and original by the cutting of its polylobé oculus and the decorations of its curvilinear pediment.

The belfry, with pilasters of angles, is overlooked by a masonry pyramid surrounded by four obelisks.

The church has a nave, two aisles and a north transept. The interior decor consists of cornices, faux marble and other trompe-l’oeil and painted medallions. The high altar and the six side chapels are decorated with 18th century Ligurian artists’ altarpieces.

The high altar (1728) is dedicated to St. Mark. It has two degrees under the large baroque altarpiece with twisted columns. A large scrolled pediment surmounts it, with angels surrounding the Blessed Sacrament painted on the central cartouche. The statue of St. Mark holds an open gospel; the lion is lying at his side. On the sides are located St. Peter and St. Paul statues.

The chapel of souls in Purgatory (Chapelle des Âmes du Purgatoire – circa 1720) is located at the end of the short north transept. The altar and altarpiece are surrounded by a beautiful arch decorated with a fresco with medallions where dead and live characters live together wearing period costumes. The altarpiece is decorated with Ligurian taste.

The Chapel of the Rosary (Chapelle du Rosaire), dated 1715, is located in the north transept side. The altarpiece with two twisted columns is surmounted by a curvilinear broken pediment framing a bas-relief depicting the eternal Father in a glory of clouds with cherubs. Gypseries, vegetal motifs and volutes, decorate the walls of the wall around the altarpiece. A beautiful Rosary cloth is located in the center of the altarpiece.

The other Baroque chapels of the 18th century have tomb-style altars and altarpieces with twisted columns, curvilinear decorations and angels.

Conditions of visit

The Saint-Marc church is at the end of the pedestrian hamlet of Piène-Haute.
You can reach Piène-Haute, either from Olivetta San Michele (in Italy, south of Breil), or by an dirt track from Col de Brouis, between Breil and Sospel.
Limited access due to the nature of the pedestrian path in hilly streets, ending in a vast monumental staircase.
Occasionaly open to public (events, parties). On request, contact hamlet management.


Additional information


  • Botton Charles, Histoire de Breil et des Breillois, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya, 1996.
  • Limon Lorenzo, Penna Vintimili, Olivetta San Michele, SPA, Stabilimento Tipografico Editoriale State, Cuneo, 1962.

Useful links