Gap's heritage

History in the heart of Gap

Gap, the prefecture of the Hautes-Alpes, nicknamed the Sweet Capital of the Southern Alps, is located 100 km south of Grenoble and 180 km north of Marseille. A strategic position in the heart of the mountains!

It was in the 1st century BC that a garrison of Roman legionaries founded Vapincum - a defensive station located on the Roman road "Via Domitia".

Thanks to its strategic position between Provence and Dauphiné, it became an important trading centre for trade from the Middle Ages.
Religious wars and a fire by the Duke of Savoy in 1692 did not justify the desire to make Gap a crossroads linking Marseille to Grenoble, which became the capital of the Hautes-Alpes in 1790. The roads developed towards Valence (by the Cabre pass) and towards Italy, by the Montgenèvre pass under the impetus of the prefect Ladoucette appointed in 1802. Napoleon Bonaparte will be accommodated there when he returns from the island of Elba in 1815. From this journey was born the tourist route "Route Napoléon".

The current configuration of the city centre corresponds approximately to the general aspect of the medieval city, despite the major urban planning changes initiated in the 19th century.
The structure of the city centre must be understood as a historical continuity. Narrow streets and intertwined alleys, high-rise housing are witnesses to the past of a "fortified" city.

Let yourself be charmed by the old centre of Gap, which will be keen to seduce and surprise you!


Monuments in the heart of Gap


Far from be to English:]eing able to make an exhaustive list of the richness of Gap's built heritage, we suggest you discover some ideas of places to visit during your stay in Gap.
Feel free to deepen your discovery with our guided tours!


The Cathedral
The first cathedral church was built on this site (Place Saint Arnoux) in the 5th century on the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Apollo.
Over the centuries, several buildings followed one another until the current monument was built between 1867 and 1905 by the architect Charles Laisné. Dedicated to Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, it was classified as a historical monument on August 9, 1906.
The use of stones of various colours from 41 different quarries gives a majestic look to the whole building, where Romanesque and Gothic styles are mixed.
The mosaics of the alley and the choir were made by Gian Domenico Facchina in 1892, who designed the facades of the Opéra Garnier in Paris.

The Chapel of the Penitents
A place of worship that has become a mythical concert hall for its incredible acoustics, the Chapelle des Pénitents has a special atmosphere... between history and modernity.

The Town Hall

The first communal house was built in 1400 on the current site of the Town Hall. The construction of the belfry overlooking the building dates back to 1407. Destroyed by the fire caused by the Duke of Savoy's troops in 1692, the building was rebuilt according to the plans of the architect Lechat and finished in 1743, as indicated by the Roman numeral inscription under the balcony. The facade and interior staircase of the Town Hall were included in the additional inventory of Historic Monuments on 29 November 1948.

The coat of arms of Gap

The coat of arms of the town of Gap consists of an azure-coloured shield, surrounded by two golden branches, one of oak and the other of laurel, and surmounted by four crenellated turrets. The latter correspond to the four gates of the 15th century rampart - Colombe, Jaussaude, Lignole and Saint-Arey - which allowed people to enter the city. Inside the shield is the city gate, from which protrude four other turrets, two crenellated and two covered, which correspond mutually to the two governments of the city: the Civil Power and the Ecclesiastical Power.

The choice of colours is also not insignificant - blue for the azure sky of Provence and gold for the sun that had just gilded the city wall.

Randoland: a fun visit to the historic center for children!

Toutourisme: The heritage of Gap is accessible with doggies, except the cathedral and the departmental museum.