The Summit Cross

Summit Cross, Le Môle, France

If you’ve spent much time travelling around mountains, chances are you’ll have seen one of these summit crosses. They are all over the place in the French Alps, but I’m struggling to find a succinct explanation as to why they’re put there.

I have two theories, the first is that because you’re at the top of a mountain you’re closer to God. The second is that it’s believed that the cross looks down over the surrounding land and keeps it safe. Or perhaps there is a completely different reason and I’m way off the mark!

In any case they certainly provide an element of grandeur to the scene, and great foreground interest to give some perspective. This shot was taken atop Le Môle in France and was the first summit cross I’ve ever reached on foot. I’m hoping the first of many!

Do you know why these summit crosses are put in place? Care to submit a theory? Or maybe you’ve got some great shots of a summit cross from elsewhere in the world. I’d love to hear from you!


6 thoughts on “The Summit Cross

  1. silemelisch

    Hi, Ben. I really like your thoughts on the crosses. I really believe that nature points to God so evidently that it is very difficult to ignore. (This reminds me of one of my recent posts, “A Glimpse of the Creator”, in case you want to drop in and read.) But, every time I have traveled and had the privilege to stand on a mountain top, I have definitely felt closer to God… at least in a hypothetical sense. Apart from that, I found out that the 2007 CIA World Factbook lists the religion of France as 83–88% Roman Catholic. Maybe this also has something to do.

    1. Ben Post author

      Standing atop a mountain and looking out at the world certainly makes you think there must be a higher power out there. I’m not personally a strong believer, although I am open to the possibility. I am most convinced when pondering the beauty of nature, especially the landscapes of our planet. I’ll have a read of your post 🙂

      That’s interesting about the catholicism, I guess that may be something to do with it. Someone on Google+ also suggested it’s often to commemorate those that have fallen whilst trying to reach a summit. But I’m not sure that would apply on Le Môle since it’s not that technically challenging to reach the top, there certainly isn’t any climbing involved!

  2. Suze

    True! They are a religious symbol. Have you ever noticed that summit crosses are mainly found in Catholic regions of the Alps (especially in Austria, Switzerland and Bavaria)? 😀 In Italy they even put up Madonna statues 😉

    1. Ben Post author

      I’ve not visited the alps of Italy, but I would certainly love to! The Dolomites look so picturesque. That’s true about the Catholic regions, and silemelisch in the above comments mentioned France is 83-88% Catholic actually. I’m sure it’s somehow related to that! Now that I think of it I saw a summit cross at the top of the Klein Matterhorn in Switzerland as well.


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