25 February 2012

The Trophy of the Alpes - the Restoration

A moody view of the Trophy des Alpes taken from La Turbie. You can see how it dominates the landscape.

In his Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 A.D.) refers to the existence of the monument. However, from the end of Antiquity onwards, the Trophy of the Alpes receded from memory as its stones were used to build the village and fortifications. The ruined monument attracted travellers and Romantic artists enamoured of picturesque sites and scholars wondered whether the ruins at La Turbie could be clearly identified as the Trophy of the Alpes. After a great deal of research, it was.

During the Middle Ages, the site was converted into a fortress. Then, in 1705, Louis IV ordered the Trophy blown up but the 17-century-old construction largely withstood his efforts. The durable stone was pillaged to build the Saint-Michel church (see smaller photo) as well as other constructions.

Just before the Conté de Nice and Savoy were reattached to Fance in 1860, the Savoy royal family ordered restoration to begin. They didn't achieve much but at least what they did prevented further deterioration. Casimir, a local archeologist began excavations in 1900. The archeologist Formigé became interested and, in the 1920's, the wealthy American Dr Edward Tuck employed architects to restore the Trophy, including replacing stones where they deduced they belonged. The restoration was completed in 1934.


Anonymous said...

I think the American coming to the rescue says something about American generosity. The columns are amazing.

AL said...

Well, it says something either for the strength of the Trophy, or the useless attempts to blow it up that it still stands today. Thankfully what is left has been restored for us all to enjoy and marvel at.

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