GAP, the capital of the French department of the Hautes Alpes. Pop. (1906) town, 6888; commune, 10,823. It is built at a height of 2418 ft. on the right bank of the Luye (an affluent of the Durance), in an agreeable position, and is dominated afar by snowy peaks on the N.E. The little city has the look of a Provençal town, being white. The 17th-century cathedral church has been entirely reconstructed (1866-1905). In the prefecture is the tomb of the constable de Lesdiguières (1543-1626), dating from about 1613, and due to a Lorraine sculptor, Jacob Richier. The same building contains various scientific and archaeological collections, as well as the very rich archives, which include many MSS. from the monastery of Durbon, etc. There are a few small manufactories of purely local importance. Gap is connected by railway with Briançon (51 m.) and with Grenoble (85 m.), while from the railway junction of Veynes (16 m. W. of Gap) it is 122 m. by rail to Marseilles. The episcopal see of Gap, now in the ecclesiastical province of Aix en Provence, is first certainly mentioned in the 6th century, and in 1791 was enlarged by the annexation of that of Embrun (then suppressed).
Gap is the Vapincum of the Romans, and was founded by Augustus about 14 B.C. It long formed part of Provence, but in 1232 most of the region passed by marriage to the dauphins of Viennois. The town itself, however, remained under the rule of the bishops until 1512, when it was annexed to the crown of France. The bishops continued to bear the title of count of Gap until the Revolution. The town was sacked by the Huguenots in 1567 and 1577, and by the duke of Savoy in 1692. It was the birthplace of the reformer Guillaume Farel (1489-1565), who first preached his doctrines there about 1561-1562, but then took refuge in Switzerland.
See J. Roman, Histoire de la ville de Gap (Gap, 1892).
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)