Avigliana Travel Guide

  • Roman stele
    Roman stele
    by JLBG
  • The portal
    The portal
    by JLBG
  • Women with amphisbene
    Women with amphisbene
    by JLBG

Avigliana Things to Do

  • Other St Michel’s sanctuaries

    Some say that the pope required that the monastery should be built half way between Mont Saint Michel in France and Santuario di Monte San Michele, in Monte Sant‘Angelo (Puglie, south of Italy). A chronicle written in the second half of the 11th, says that Saint Michael has chosen these three places as his kingdom on earth. Even if Hugues de...

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  • The landscape on the lower valley

    The three photos show the valley towards the eastThe first photo shows Avigliana and the autostrada from Susa to Turin.The second and the third photo show the landscape further east. Because of air pollution, Turin cannot be seen but should be on the grayish horizon!

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  • Tower of the beautiful Alda

    The tall structure in the middle of the photo is the tower of the beautiful Alda. The legend says that when she was to be raped by villains, she jumped in the valley and was found safe. The legend says that later, she jumped again, but this time for money and killed herself.

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  • Ruins of the old monastery.

    The terrace overlooks the ruins of the old monastery that was built between the 12th and the 14th . This is also where was the old Ligures fortress and the Roman fortress.. It has a great view over the valleyThe third photo shows the elevator for disabled that is almost hidden behind a pillar.

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  • Way down for visitors

    As the visit is single way, the way down for visitors is goes in the beginning through a narrow and steep staircase at another corner of the terrace. However, it should be outlined that an elevator has been recently installed for disabled. It is available on demand and after agreement.

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  • Monks portal

    The church has a smaller entrance (way out for the visitors) that leads to a terrace that overhangs the valley. In a corner, after a few stairs, a small portal is named “monks portal”. This door leads to the monastery part, where lived the monks. It is divided in two parts by a pilaster. On each side, a trifoliate arch.

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  • Trifoliate chapel

    In a small sober chapel with a trifoliate vault lays the recumbent figure of Adate Giugliemo. I have been unable to find who was Adate Giugliemo and as it was the end of the visit, our guide had left us to collect another group.

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  • Inside the church.

    The church is not very large but remember that it stands on top of a peak and that most of it is held by a single pillar! However, it is impressive with its three naves? The Romanesque style is cleverly mixed with the Gothic stile. The lowest arches, between the central nave and the side naves are Romanesque. The vault of the main nave is Gothic.

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  • Roman stele

    A Roman stele has been incorporated into the wall, left to the entrance. Amazingly, it has been fixed leaning as can be seen on the first photo. On the blank space that was at its bottom, now on the right, a Christian scene has been carved, standingOn the second photo, I have made a close up on the Roman stele and I have turn it in its original way...

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  • Face of a monk

    The face of a monk with a cowl stands above the entrance, on the side. There used to be on the other side the head of a novice with short hair but in circumstances that I have not fully understood, it had been removed (stolen ?).

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  • Small columns on both sides.

    The small columns, on each side of the entrance have been added in the 19th . They have been recovered from another entrance. The columns further from the entrance (first photo) are topped by trifoiled arches. Each capital is carved with different kind of leaves. The columns closer to the portal (second photo) are carved with flowers and grapes.

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  • The portal

    The portal was built in the 12th in grayish bluish stone and is closed by a wooden door that was added in 1826 (first photo)The second photo is a close up on the top box. It shows a snake with a devil’s face, chained to a sword. The third photo shows the lower box with a coat of arm (of the bishop ?)

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  • The platform in front of the entrance

    The photo shows the platform in front of the entrance with the group listening to the guide. At this pint, he had a lot to tell. Fortunately, the weather, though cool (it was November 1st) was sunny. On the right, the stairs that we had just climbed. On the left (not seen), the entrance into the church.

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  • Last stairs

    From Zodiac door (outside the photo, on the right), you turn right and find another flight of stairs that climb under the counterforts of the church. The counterforts were built in the 19th. Contrary to the Deads’ staircase, this flight of stairs is in the open. It leads to a small platform with on the right the entrance into the church.

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  • The capitals left to Zodiac door.

    The first photo shows (right) a fishtailed Triton with an abundant hair symbolizes water. On the left, a Griffon holds its tail between its legs.The second photo shows on the right two eagles that symbolize the sky (or the heaven). On the left two women milk snakes, which can be a symbol of luxury. The third photo is an enlargement of the previous....

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  • The capitals right to Zodiac door.

    Photo 1 gives a general view on the capitals on the right. It is carved with scenes from the Bible. In the middle, the zodiac with only 11 figures as Balance and Scorpio are represented in the same circle;Photo 2 is a close-up on Samson shaking the columns of the temple. (left). On the right, three men draw one another’s hair. It can be given...

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  • Zodiac door

    The summit of the staircase is closed by the Zodiac door. Its carved marble stiles are most likely to come from Chapel Saint Etienne and that have been reused. It is framed by several columns with decorated capitals (next tip).

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  • The Deads’ staircase

    Inside the basement stands under an impressive vault, the main staircase, which gives access to the church from underneath, which is very unusual. It is very steep as its beginning is 20 meters below the level of the church. Its opening, on top is impressive too and looks like a bright light at the end of a tunnel, which obviously was a symbolism...

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  • Entrance into the sanctuary

    The entrance into the sanctuary is closed by a gate and you have to pay 4 euros for the visit. Standing at the foot of the sanctuary, a modern statue of Saint Michael, carved by Paul de Doss-Moroder, was set on 24 September 2005 and brought here by helicopter. The door is opened as soon as there are enough visitors to make a group. A guide conducts...

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  • Impressive front of the sanctuary.

    When you arrive below the sanctuary, the sight of the front is impressive, with its 41 meters, almost the height of a 15 levels building!The basement itself (first photo) is 26 meters high. It holds the church, which alone is 15 meters high.

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  • Last part of the climb!

    Until this point, the lane had been very smooth. At this point, it climbs steeply to the sanctuary. The first part is straight and is followed by a part with two pin bends. Only authorized vehicles can get here : for security, caretakers and also, after agreement for disabled visitors.

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  • Ruins of a Romanesque church

    At the end of the forest lane, stand the ruins of a Romanesque church built around 100 AD on an octagonal design with four chapels at the end of a cross. It is named “the sepulchre” because this si where the monks were buried.In the background, stands the monastery.

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  • Map of the site on a triptych

    Just before arriving at Sacra di San Michele, a large sign gives the map of the complex and in Italian on the left, in English and French on the right, the horary for visits in Winter (October 16th through March 15th). It is open for visits from 9:30 AM through 12:30 AM and 2 PM through 17 PM on working days On holidays, it closes half an hour...

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  • 800 m walk to Sacra di San Michele

    You must park about 800 m from Sacra di San Michele. Though this was xxx, afternoon, the parking was full up and we had, like many other visitors to park on the side of the narrow road, 200 m below. The lane that leads to Sacra San Michele is comfortable and shaded by trees that had already their autumn color. The walk was very pleasant.

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  • Sacra di San Michele from full south

    This photo was taken from full south. It is the closest that you can be on the road. From here, you can admire the powerful structure of the church.I have made on the second photo an enlargement because, when you get closer, you will not have a general view of the structure of the church. You should remind this view to better understand how it was...

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  • Sacra di San Michele from the south-east

    Once you leave the small town of Avigliana, in the valley, you must follow a narrow mountain road that turns around Mount Pirchiriano and climbs first on its eastern slopes, then on its southern slopes.Both photos were taken from the south-east, from the road, the second, with telephoto lens.

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  • Sacra di San Michele from the west

    The first photo shows Sacra di San Michele from Bussoleno, 10 km downstream from Susa.The second photo shows Sacra di San Michele from San Giorio di Susa, a few kilometers downstream, almost at the foot of Mount Pirchiriano.The third photo was shot with telephoto lens and shows better that on the valley side, the complex is partly ruined.Sacra di...

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Avigliana Hotels

Avigliana Off The Beaten Path

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Cute little castle

    by JLBG Written Feb 13, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This cute little castle stands a few kilometers upvalley to Avigliana. I have taken this photo from the autostrada and had not enough time to have a closer look. As I drive often in the Susa valley, I will certainly have an opportunity to visit it and identify it. Next time !

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture

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Avigliana Travel Guide
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