A village in the shape of an eagle's nest, Saorge is a monument in itself, a witness to medieval architecture. This village, which looks like a "Tibetan village", entirely listed, is an ancient fortress clinging to the side of the mountain in the shape of an amphitheatre.
Saorge is an important point on the "Route of the Baroque and Historic Organs of the Roya Valley".
A village with Ligurian origins, for a long time it was a stopover on the salt route, a strategic axis between France and Italy. It has a rich historical and religious heritage with, in addition to the Monastery, which is part of the National Monuments Centre, a Baroque church, three chapels and the remains of fortified castles.
With its narrow streets and vaulted passages, once defended by three castles, the fortress of Saorge, reputed to be impregnable, was nicknamed "the lock of the Roya".
The region is inhabited by the tribe of Sagiontii, a Ligurian people living on the lands of the right bank of the Roya. The Ligurian tribes, defeated by Augustus, are Romanized and attached to the municipality of Albintimilium which depends on the Campanian tribe Falerna or Falerina. The successive invasions of the Goths, the Lombards and the Sarasins caused these tribes to flee on the left bank of the Ropya, easier to defend. The rocky nipple of La Barrière is already at this time an impregnable defensive site. Saorge belonged to the Counts of Ventimiglia, but Ardoin’s charter, in the 11th century, granted them freedoms. Having defeated the Counts of Ventimiglia, the Saorgians signed a pact of self-defence and autonomy, in 1233, with Breil, La Brigue and Tende. In 1258, the Counts of Ventimiglia ceded Saorge to Charles I of Anjou, Count of Provence.
In 1388, Saorge passes to the house of Savoie. In 1465, the city is ravaged by a fire and rebuilt. The city was French from 1692 to 1696, and Louis XIV became Earl of Saorge. The region was devastated during the succession wars of Spain and Austria. In 1793, soldiers of the Revolution en route to Piedmont were stopped at Saorge. From 1814, the city returned for forty-six years to the house of Savoy-Sardinia, then gave itself to France in 1860. In June 1940, the soldiers of the Duce who tried to take Saorge were turned back by scouts-skiers. A large part of the population was deported to Turin in 1944.
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