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Great St Bernard Pass, border of Switzerland and Italy
Great St Bernard Pass, border of Switzerland and Italy
Author: Hans Hillewaert (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)




Great St Bernard Pass (French:: Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, Italian: Colle del Grnad San Bernardo) is a mountain pass in Valais canton, between Switzerland and Italy. It is also called the Grand St Bernard Pass.

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Great St Bernard Pass
Great St Bernard Pass
Author: muneaki (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

More on Great St Bernard Pass

Situated at an altitude of 2,469 m (8,103 ft) above sea level, it is the third highest road pass in Switzerland, and the lowest on the ridge between Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. The ridge is the watershed separating the Rhône basin from the Po basin.

The Great St Bernard Pass has been in use since prehistoric times. The Romans made use of the pass, and traces of the ancient Roman road is still visible. The pass was also used by Napoleon's army to enter Italy.

During medieval times, monks at the Great St Bernard Hospice, at the highest road point on Great St Bernard Pass, trained dogs to rescue travelers buried by the avalanches. The hospice was named after its founder Bernard of Menthon, the Bishop of Aosta, who established it in 1080. The name St Bernard is given to the large breed of rescue dogs.


Great St Bernard Hospice
Great St Bernard Hospice
Author: Ludovic Péron (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)


Today the Great St Bernard Pass is much less used by vehicle traffic, as its role has been taken over by the Great St Bernard Tunnel opened in 1964. Nonetheless it is still of historical and recreational interest.

Sights & Attractions in Great St Bernard Pass

  1. Great St Bernard Hospice
    9th century monastery originally dedicated to St Nicholas, renamed after St Bernard when it was reestablished by the then bishop to help travelers passing through it.

St Bernard dog
St Bernard dog
Author: Ofrockwood (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)