Sospel

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Sospel
Commune
A view of Sospel, with the River Bévéra flowing beneath the old bridge
A view of Sospel, with the River Bévéra flowing beneath the old bridge
Coat of arms of Sospel
Coat of arms
Sospel is located in France
Sospel
Sospel
Coordinates: 43°52′41″N 7°26′57″E / 43.8781°N 7.4492°E / 43.8781; 7.4492Coordinates: 43°52′41″N 7°26′57″E / 43.8781°N 7.4492°E / 43.8781; 7.4492
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Alpes-Maritimes
Arrondissement Nice
Canton Contes
Intercommunality Riviera française
Government
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Jean-Mario Lorenzi
Area1 62.39 km2 (24.09 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 3,520
 • Density 56/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 06136 /06380
Elevation 257–1,737 m (843–5,699 ft)
(avg. 354 m or 1,161 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Sospel (Mentonasc: Sospèl, Italian Sospello) is a commune (municipality) and former schismatic episcopal seat (1381-1418) in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France near the Italian border and not far from Monte Carlo.

History and remains[edit]

Sospel's former Cathedral

The town dates back to the 5th century, when it served as an important staging post on the royal road from Nice to Turin, its main monument is the former cathedral.

  • The old toll bridge used by travellers to cross the Bévéra, built in the 13th century, still stands. It was bombed by the Germans during World War II to prevent contact between the French Resistance ("The Maquis") and the Italians. Much of the town was destroyed. Renovated after World War II it now houses the tourist office.
  • The ruins of a tower, part of a château (residential castle) belonging to the counts of Provence, are all that remain of the 14th century city walls.

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

During the Western Schism, the Diocese of Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French) was split : the canonical bishop, still residing in Ventimiglia, obedient to the Pope in Rome, controlled the territories dependent of the Italian dogal Republic of Genua, but an uncanonical line of rival anti-bishops (1381-1418), obedient to the Antipope of Avignon, established their schismatical see 'of Ventimiglia' in Sospel(lo), with sway over the diocese's 'French' territories dependent on the County of Savoy and the lordship of Tenda.

Suffragan anti-bishops of (Ventimiglia at) Sospel(lo)
  • Bertrando Imberti, Friars Minor (O.F.M. (2 December 1381 - death 1386 )
  • Pietro Marinaco, O.F.M. (27 August 1392 - 4 September 1409), next Bishop of Famagosta (on Cyprus, now a titular see as Famagusta)
  • Bartolomeo de Giudici (22 June 1408 - deposed 1412 - death 1418)

After Ventimiglia's diocesan authority was restored in 1412, that bishopric (now Diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo) was to be split and Sospel ended up in the present (French) Diocese of Nice, while its former cathedral was demoted to simple church of Saint Michel (Michael).

Population[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 2,453 —    
1800 2,990 +21.9%
1806 3,307 +10.6%
1822 3,620 +9.5%
1838 4,394 +21.4%
1848 4,437 +1.0%
1858 3,818 −14.0%
1861 3,936 +3.1%
1866 3,912 −0.6%
1872 3,547 −9.3%
1876 3,465 −2.3%
1881 3,425 −1.2%
1886 3,695 +7.9%
1891 3,887 +5.2%
1896 3,756 −3.4%
1901 3,570 −5.0%
1906 3,768 +5.5%
1911 3,529 −6.3%
1921 3,361 −4.8%
1926 3,070 −8.7%
1931 3,705 +20.7%
1936 3,815 +3.0%
1946 2,156 −43.5%
1954 2,181 +1.2%
1962 2,321 +6.4%
1968 2,582 +11.2%
1975 1,828 −29.2%
1982 2,171 +18.8%
1990 2,592 +19.4%
1999 2,885 +11.3%
2008 3,520 +22.0%

Sospel in fiction[edit]

  • The town of Sospel is mentioned in Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca, when Max de Winter declines an invitation from annoying social climber Mrs. Van Hopper on the excuse that he is driving to Sospel that day.
  • In 1909 it was described in Gaston Leroux's novel, The Perfume of the Lady in Black (p. 151), as
"a picturesque little city lost between the last counterforces of the Alps, two hours and half from Mentone by coach... It is one of the most retired and quietest corners of France, the most dreaded by revenue officers and by the Alpine hunters, but the road which leads to it is one of the most beautiful in the world."
  • Sospel is a setting in the 1977 mystery novel All Roads to Sospel by George Bellairs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources and external links[edit]