Fenestrelle Castle (Italy)

Piedmont     See list of castles in Italia

The Fenestrelle Fort made its entrance on the stage of History in the autumn of 1727, when the engineer Ignazio Bertola, at the request of King Vittorio Amedeo II, presented the project of a work that had some fantastic: a great wall, studded from more fortification works, placed in barrage of the Chisone valley against foreign invasions.

Its architecture is unbelievable: it grows on the ridge of the mountain for a length of over 3 kilometers, with a total area of ​​1,350,000 square meters and a difference in height between the first and last building of about 600 meters . Looking at it as a whole, we find ourselves faced with a work outside any canon, if referred to the previous fortification defense techniques, for its gigantic dimensions and the articulation of its buildings.

The construction work began in the spring of 1728 under the direction of the same Bertola assisted by the engineer Varino de la Marche, and lasted for over a century. The last building site closed in 1850. In the years of greater operational commitment, the number of insiders surpassed four thousand units.

Little by little, what became the biggest Alpine fortress in Europe was born.
The name Forte di Fenestrelle, with which it is indicated, is not exactly correct because it is not a single fort, but a fortified complex consisting of eight defensive works, some as large as Fort San Carlo, and others as small as the Reduced Santa Barbara, but each of them had a specific role in defense strategies.
All the structures are connected to each other through both internal and external paths, but above all through the known "covered staircase", a work that stands out for its uniqueness: 4000 steps, protected by walls two meters thick, slope of the mountain, like a long tunnel that runs uninterruptedly for more than two kilometers.

The fort was always a military garrison and constantly maintained its function as a sentinel and defensive bulwark, but, as for all the fortresses, it also carried out the delicate task of a state prison. The rooms of his palaces were often used as detention cells for prestigious people, while the barracks of the barracks hosted the so-called common inmates: people convicted of various crimes, soldiers guilty of serious transgressions and, not to forget, a thousand soldiers of the conquered the Kingdom of the two Sicilies that remained there about a month before being included in the nascent Italian Army.

After the Second World War the fort suffered a total abandonment. The vegetation began to invade and break the walls, so that the whole complex was in danger of becoming a ruin, a victim of time and human negligence.

Today, thanks to the San Carlo Project Association, the Fort of Fenestrelle is a monumental complex open to the public for some years and has become a place of interest for tourists and scholars who want to savor the charm and mysteries of history through its walls.

Images of the castle

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Useful infos

Latitude: 45.0300086
Longitude: 7.0601451
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Map of Fenestrelle Castle