There are natural incidence structures on the boundary of the complex hyperbolic space and on some suitable boundary S associated to the group PU(m,n). Such structures have striking rigidity properties: I will prove that a (measurable) map from the boundary of the complex hyperbolic space to S that preserves these incidence structures needs to be algebraic. This implies that, if G is a lattice in SU(1,p) and n is greater than m, there exist Zariski dense maximal representations of G in SU(m,n) only if (m,n) is equal to (1,p). In particular the restriction to G of the diagonal embedding of SU(1,p) in SU(m,pm+k) is locally rigid.
A symmetric space is Hermitian if it admits a complex structure preserved by the isometry group. In this introductory talk I will describe various geometric features of these spaces. I will focus particularly on some natural notion of boundary arising in this context, and emphasize the role played by these objects in studying rigidity questions.