OverviewExilles is a wonderful little village set at eight hundred feet high in the Susa Valley.
It occupies a small part of the valley and a plateau is situated halfway between Susa and Bardonecchia. Exilles has preserved its original appearance: houses, streets, woods that surround it, everything seems to have stopped, without that the time and modernity have scratched its charm.
Behind this mountain village is an imposing fortress, "the Fortress of Exilles." He frightening proportions, so much so, that the village seen from above looks like a miniature. The fort was rebuilt in the late nineteenth century and since then, has kept all its facilities.
Today is a Museum of the Mountain, open all year, but in the past has witnessed fierce sieges, was a prison, and was a barracks for thousands of young recruits of the battalion: "Esille".
Exilles is the starting point for a trail in the high mountain that passes from the Park of the Great Forest, the Dorsal of Assietta and complete to the Fortress of Fenestrelle (Chisone Valley).
Getting There.From Turin:
take the A32 motorway Turin-Bardonecchia, exit Oulx.
Take the S.S.n°24 direction Susa. After twenty minutes by car and after passing the village of Salbertrand arrive in Exilles.
Leave your car under the walls of the fortress there is an huge car park.
You can choose to go to the fortress with the access road, or with the new lift into the rock, which opened on 10.23.2011 (if it works of course).
The History.Since ancient times, the rock stony place in the middle of the valley Excingomagus (Exilles), had represented for the pre-Roman peoples of the Susa Valley, an important point of passage.
The Romans were the first to build a round tower called "Tour de Caesar" in order to control traffic on the Road of Gaul.
Later (1214) the whole area became part of the possessions of the Dauphine, who built a real square fortress (Castrum Exilliarum), capable of controlling the traffic of goods and to impose customs duties.
In 1349 the castle came with the whole valley of Oulx to the Kingdom of France, becoming a forward base for the French raids in the Po valley.
A true "plug in the side" of the Savoy.
In the sixteenth century French castle (le Chateau de Esilie) had a much lower current structure of nineteenth-century fortress and had a major weak spot was beatable from above with the artillery.
Throughout its history the castle Exilles suffered numerous attacks resulting in changes hands between the French and Savoy.
Each time the structure was rebuilt flipping it 180°, because everyone building so, as to have the front facing the enemy fire.
1594- The French recapture the stronghold.
1607-1610- The castle was rebuilt by the architect of the Kingdom of France Jean de Beins and replaced by a fortress.
1681-1687- The fort became a state prison and ruled by Benign de Saint Mars (who bears the famous Iron Mask).
1708-The fortress was recaptured by Savoia.
1715- The new fortress of Exilles designed by Ignazio Bertola.
1742-1748- Franco-Spanish siege in Exilles (the fortress resists).
1794- The last siege by the French Jacobins (the fortress resists).
During the Napoleonic Wars and the French occupation of northern Italy, the fortress of Exilles underwent terrifying demolition.
1818- The Colonel of military engineers Giovanni Rana began the construction of the new fortress.
Throughout the nineteenth century and the twentieth century the fortress became a huge barracks, suitable to host the alpine of the third regiment (battalion Exilles).
After the September 8, 1943 was abandoned and occupied by a small garrison of German soldiers.
After the Second World War began a period of complete abandonment and degradation (in the eighties me and my friends we went in secret to the fortress to play cops and robbers).
Today.About eleven years ago, the Piedmont Region has begun renovation work and functional recovery, spending about 6,800,000 euros.
This effort was productive. Today, the Fortress of Exilles is one of the most beautiful historical sites can be visited, all year round, in Piedmont.
It welcomes the Olympic Museum, the Museum of the Fortresses (contains all scale models of various forts that have followed), the uniformology museum of Alpine troops.
In the battery of the Cavalier are the halls of: "Sound and Light", suggestive settings with mountain scenery.
The fortress, in summer, can be visited in its various parts.
The New lift into the Rock (built in the year 2011).
The Hall of the Scale Models.
Between myth and reality: The Iron Mask.
On the identity of the famous prisoner of the Sun King were made a lot of speculation: The father of Louis XIV, a twin brother, an illegitimate son of Cardinal Mazarin, a spy, the Minister Nicolas Fouquet, etc. etc.
Certainly we know that it existed, and his life was a continual pilgrimage from one prison to another:
1669 Prisoner is transferred in Pinerolo.
1681 From Pinerolo he moved to Exilles .
1687 From Exilles to Briançon.
1687 From Briançon to the island of Santa Margherita.
1698 From the island in Cannes.
1698(September) from Cannes to the Bastille.
1703 Death in the Bastille.
One hypothesis must be that the greater is that the Iron Mask was nothing more than the ex finance minister Nicolas Fouquet.
This would be evidenced by the stories of Benigno Saint Mars, who was appointed governor of Exilles under the reign of Louis XIV. For this delicate task he obtained 6000 lire a year instead of the usual 4000. In the fall of 1681, he was to transport the mysterious prisoner from Pinerolo to Exilles. The trip took place on a special coach on roads almost inaccessible and inconvenient.
On the coach there were, the prisoner, the governor and a certain La Riviére, waiter's finance minister Fouquet.
A Exilles were imprisoned together in the Tour Grosse, in a cell of five meters per side, lit by two small openings facing north.
The only unknown is that, the Saint Mairs says that Fouquet had died a year before in Pinerolo.