SUPER ALPINE
Great Saint Bernard Pass
Summit of the pass
Valais/Italian border

Great Saint-Bernard Pass

The Great Saint-Bernard pass is one of the most famous alpine routes


History

For centuries the pass was the most important and strategic of transit points. When Augustus was planning the conquest of Britannia, he ordered the track to be widened, making it passable for carts. Bernard of Menthon in the eleventh century came to the rescue of travellers by founding the hostel. In 1800 Napoleon’s army used the pass to enter Italy - compared by writers at the time to Hannibal’s quest. A tunnel built in 1964 bypasses the pass road.

Notes

The pass is the third-highest road in the Alps. On the Italian side is the 305-metre-long Dardanelli Viaduct, built in 1964 and famous for its appearance in the film The Italian Job. The village of Saint Rhemy is the last inhabited place on the Italian side and was home to the Marronniers who held the right to accompany travellers and provide safe passage over the pass. The Tour des Fous rock formation was said to be infested by the Saracens. At the summit is a glacial lake that is frozen 265 days a year. The monastery houses a permanent community of monks and serves as a spiritual centre and retreat for visitors.

Map
Statistics
Summit coordinates 45°52’08.0”N, 7°10’14.0”E
Summit Altitude 2469 metres
Distance 82 kilometres
Start Martigny
End Aosta
Opens June to mid-October

If you enjoyed this story

A full story about the Col de la Forclaz is available in Issue 03 of the Super Alpine magazine - Tour International.

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Swiss Passes