Cottian Alps

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Cottian Alps
French: Alpes Cottiennes; Italian: Alpi Cozie
Monviso Cottian Alps.jpg
Monte Viso in the Cottian Alps, seen from the Rocciamelone
Highest point
PeakMonte Viso
Elevation 3,841 m (12,602 ft)
Coordinates 44°40′18″N7°15′13″E / 44.67167°N 7.25361°E / 44.67167; 7.25361
Alps - Cottian.JPG
CountriesItaly and France
Provinces Piedmont, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Range coordinates 44°45′N7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000 Coordinates: 44°45′N7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000
Parent range Alps
Borders on Graian Alps, Dauphiné Alps, Provence Alps and Prealps, Maritime Alps and Po plain
Orogeny Alpine orogeny

The Cottian Alps ( /ˈkɒtiənˈælps/ ; French : Alpes Cottiennes [alp kɔtjɛn] ; Italian : Alpi Cozie [ˈalpi ˈkɔttsje] ) are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between France (Hautes-Alpes and Savoie) and Italy (Piedmont). The Fréjus Road Tunnel and Fréjus Rail Tunnel between Modane and Susa are important transportation arteries between France (Lyon, Grenoble) and Italy (Turin).



Roman aqueduct of Susa Susa acquedotto.jpg
Roman aqueduct of Susa

The name Cottian comes from Marcus Julius Cottius , a king of the tribes inhabiting that mountainous region in the 1st century BC. These tribes had previously opposed but later made peace with Julius Caesar. Cottius was succeeded by his son Gaius Julius Donnus II (reigned 3 BC-4 AD), and his grandson Marcus Julius Cottius II (reigned 5-63 AD), who was granted the title of king by the emperor Claudius. On his death, Nero annexed his kingdom as the province of Alpes Cottiae. [1]


For a long part of the Middle Ages the Cottian Alps were divided between the Duchy of Savoy, which controlled their northern part and the easternmost slopes, and the Dauphiné, which at the time was independent from France. The Dauphins also held, in addition to the southwestern slopes of the range (Briançon and Queyras, now on the French side), the upper part of some of the valleys that were tributaries of the Po River (Valle di Susa, Chisone valley, Varaita Valley). The Alpine territory of Dauphiné, known as Escartons , used to have a limited autonomy and elected its own parliament. [2] This semi-autonomous status lasted also after the annexation of the Dauphiné to France (1349), and was only abolished in 1713 due to the Treaty of Utrecht, which assigned to the House of Savoy all the mountainous area on the eastern side of the Cottian Alps. [3]

After the treaty annexing Nice and Savoy to France, signed in Turin in March 1860 (Treaty of Turin), the north-western slopes of the range became part of the French republic. [4]

Two eastern valleys of the Cottian Alps (Pellice and Germanasca) have been for centuries a kind of sanctuary for the Waldensians, a Christian movement founded by Peter Waldo and which was persecuted as heretical from the 12th century onwards. [5]


Administratively the range is divided between the Italian province of Cuneo and the Metropolitan City of Turin (the eastern slopes), and the French departments of Savoie, Hautes-Alpes, and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (the western slopes).

The Cottian Alps are drained by the rivers Durance and Arc and their tributaries on the French side; and by the Dora Riparia and other tributaries of the Po on the Italian side.


The borders of the Cottian Alps are (clockwise):


The Northern Cottian Alps from Pointe Clairy Gruppo pierre menue da punta clairy.jpg
The Northern Cottian Alps from Pointe Clairy

The chief peaks of the Cottian Alps are:

Monte Viso 384112,609 Aiguille de Chambeyron 341211,155
Aiguille de Scolette 350611,500 Pics de la Font Sancte 338711,112
Brec de Chambeyron 338811,116Dents d'Ambin338211,096
Rognosa d'Etiache 338511,106Visolotto335311,001
Punta Ferrand336411,037 Punta Sommeiller 333310,935
Bric de Rubren 334010,958 Bric Froid 330210,833
Pic de Rochebrune 332010,891 Rognosa di Sestriere 328010,761
Punta Merciantaira 329310,804Roche du Grand Galibier324210,637
Panestrel325310,673 Rocca Bernauda 322510,581
Peou Roc323110,601Pointe Haute de Mary321210,539
Grand Galibier 322810,590 Pic du Thabor 320710,522
Pic du Pelvat321810,558 Mont Thabor 318010,440
Pain de Sucre320810,526Tete des Toillies317910,430
Pointe des Cerces 318010,434Monte Platasse314910,331
Monte Granero 317010,401Tete de Moyse311010,204
Rocce del Rouit314510,318 Punta Bagnà 312910,266
Mont Chaberton 313010,286 Pelvo d'Elva 306410,053
Monte Meidassa 310510,187Rocca Bianca305910,307
Grand Queyron 306010,040 Bric Ghinivert 30379,963
Monte Albergian 30419,977 Monte Politri 30269,928
Monte Barifreddo30289,933 Viso Mozzo 30199,905
Pic Caramantran30259,925Pointe du Fréjus29349,626
Bric Bouchet29989,836Pic du Malrif29069,535
Pointe des Marcelettes29099,545 Punta Cornour 28689,410
Monte Orsiera 28909,479 Cima Ciantiplagna 28499,347
Monte Friolànd27388,981 Pointe de Bellecombe 27759,104
Pic de Morgon 23247,625 L'Aiguille Rouge 25458,350
Gran Truc23667,762 Monte Birrone 21316,991
Monte Ricordone17645,787 Monte Freidour 14454,741


Colle d'Agnello/Col Agnel, 2,744 m Colleagnello001.jpg
Colle d'Agnello/Col Agnel, 2,744 m

The chief passes of the Cottian Alps are:

(as of 1911)
elevation (m/ft)
Col Sommeiller Bardonecchia to Bramanssnow2962/9718
Col de la Traversette Crissolo to Abriès bridle path2950/9679
Col d'AmbinExilles to Bramanssnow2854/9364
Col de St VeranValle Varaita to the Queyras Valleyfootpath2844/9331
Col du Parpaillon Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valleyfootpath2780/9121
Col d'Étache Bardonecchia to Bramans bridle path2787/9144
Col Agnel Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valleyroad2744/9003
Col GirardinUbaye Valley to the Queyras Valleybridle path2699/8855
Col de Sautron Valle Maira to Barcelonnette bridle path2689/8823
Col de LongetUbaye Valley to Valle Varaitabridle path2672/8767
Col de MaryUbaye Valley to Valle Mairabridle path2654/8708
Col d'AbrièsPerosa to Abrièsbridle path2650/8695
Col de la RoueBardonecchia to Modane bridle path2566/8419
Col du Fréjus Bardonecchia to Modanedirt road2542/8340
Colle della Rho Bardonecchia to Modanedirt road/briddle path2541/8338
Col de Clapier Bramans to Susa bridle path2491/8173
Col d'Izoard Briançon to the Queyras Valleyroad2388/7835
Col de la Croix or Colle della Croce Torre Pellice to Abriès bridle path2299/7541
Petit Mont CenisBramans to the Mont Cenis Plateaubridle path2184/7166
Col de Vars Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valleyroad2115/6939
Mont Cenis Lanslebourg to Susaroad2101/6893
Colle Sestriere Pinerolo to Cesana Torineseroad2021/6631
Col de Larche/Maddalena Pass Ubaye Valley to the Stura Valleyroad1991/6532
Col de Montgenèvre Briançon to Susaroad1854/6083
Col de l'Échelle Briançon to Bardonecchiaroad1760/5774
Col de la Vallée ÉtroiteBriançon to Modanefootpath2445/8022

See also


Related Research Articles

Dauphiné Alps

The Dauphiné Alps are a group of mountain ranges in southeastern France, west of the main chain of the Alps. Mountain ranges within the Dauphiné Alps include the Massif des Écrins, Belledonne, the Taillefer range and the mountains of Matheysine.

Maritime Alps

The Maritime Alps are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the Italian regions of Piedmont and Liguria. They are the southernmost part of the Alps.

Briançon Subprefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Briançon (French: [bʁijɑ̃sɔ̃] is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

Susa, Piedmont Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Susa is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont, Italy. In the middle of Susa Valley, it is situated on at the confluence of the Cenischia with the Dora Riparia, a tributary of the Po River, at the foot of the Cottian Alps, 51 km (32 mi) west of Turin.

Dora Riparia

The Dora Riparia is an alpine river, a left-hand tributary of the Po. It is 125 kilometres (78 mi) long, with a 1,231 square kilometres (475 sq mi) drainage basin. It originates in the Cottian Alps, close to the Col de Montgenèvre in France, where it is called the Piccola Dora. Its name becomes the Dora Riparia after the confluence with the Ripa in the Argentera Valley and the Thuras de Bousson close to Cesana.

Mont Cenis Mountain in France

Mont Cenis is a massif and pass in Savoie (France), which forms the limit between the Cottian and Graian Alps.

Alpes Cottiae Roman province

The Alpes Cottiae were a small province of the Roman Empire founded in 63 AD by Nero. It was one of the three provinces straddling the Alps between modern France and Italy, along with Alpes Graiae et Poeninae and Alpes Maritimae.

Marcus Julius Cottius was king of the Celtic and Ligurian inhabitants of the mountainous region then known as Alpes Taurinae and now as the Cottian Alps early in the 1st century BC. He was the son and successor of King Donnus and negotiated a dependent status with Rome that preserved considerable autonomy for his country.

Susa Valley

The Susa Valley is a valley in the Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont region of northern Italy, located between the Graian Alps in the north and the Cottian Alps in the south. It one of the longest valleys of the Italian Alps. It extends over 50 kilometres (31 mi) in an east-west direction from the French border to the outskirts of Turin. The valley takes its name from the city of Susa which lies in the valley. The Dora Riparia river, a tributary of the Po, flows through the valley.

Maurienne Former Savoy province

Maurienne is one of the provinces of Savoy, corresponding to the arrondissement of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France. It is also the original name of the capital of the province, now Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

Donnus King of the Ligures

The chieftain called by Latins Donnus was the ruler of the Ligurian tribes inhabiting the mountainous region now known as the Cottian Alps during the 1st century BC. Although initially an opponent of Julius Caesar during the latter's conquest of Gaul, Donnus later made peace with him. Donnus' son and successor, Cottius, initially maintained his independence in the face of Augustus' effort to subdue the various Alpine tribes, but afterwards agreed to an alliance, and the family continued to rule the region as prefects of Rome, until Nero annexed the dominion as the province of Alpes Cottiae. His name was first cited in the Arch of Augustus of Susa engraving.


The Cenischia is a mountain torrent which straddles the south-west French department of Savoie and the north-west Italian Metropolitan City of Turin, in Piedmont. Part of the Po basin, it is a left tributary of the Dora Riparia and forms the valley called the Val Cenischia which marks the boundary between the Graian Alps to the north and the Cottian Alps to the south.

The Segusini were a Ligurian tribe whose territory largely corresponded with the ancient Roman province of Alpes Cottiae, in the Cottian Alps.

Punta Bagnà

Punta Bagnà or Cime du Grand Vallon is a mountain of Savoie, France and of the Province of Turin, Italy. It lies in the Cottian Alps range. It has an elevation of 3,129 metres above sea level.

Punta Sommeiller

Punta Sommeiller or Pointe Sommeiller is a mountain of the Province of Turin, Italy and of Savoie, France. It lies in the Cottian Alps range. It has an elevation of 3,333 metres (10,935 ft) above sea level.

Ambin group Sub-range of the Cottian Alps on the French-Italian border

The Ambin group is a sub-range of the Cottian Alps located on the French-Italian border.

Punta Nera

The Punta Nera is a mountain of Savoie (France) and of the Province of Turin (Italy). It lies in the Cottian Alps range. It has an elevation of 3,047 metres above sea level.

Mount Chenaillet Mountain in France

The Mont Chenaillet is a 2,650 metres high mountain of the Cottian Alps, located on the Main chain of the Alps South of the Col de Montgenèvre.

Signal du Petit Mont-Cenis Mountain in France

The Signal du Petit Mont-Cenis is a 3,162 m high mountain of the Cottian Alps.

Pointe de Bellecombe Mountain in France

The Pointe de Bellecombe is a 2,775 m high mountain of the northern Cottian Alps.


Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alps"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 737–754.

  1. Bibliotheca classica or A classical dictionary, John Lemprière, G. and C. Carvill, 1831; pag. 414
  2. Escartons, hommes libres, (accessed on 2012-04-05)
  3. Joseph Visconti (2003). The Waldensian Way to God. Xulon Press.
  4. "Traité de Turin, Signé à Turin le 24 mars 1860 entre la France et la Sardaigne". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 874876