Fort of Fenestrelle
Historical and architectural information:
The Fort of Fenestrelle, considering its overshadowing size, is a colossal military work made up of three different forts: San Carlo Fort, Fort delle Valli (of the Valleys, n.d.T.) and Fort Tre Denti (Three Teeth, n.d.T.), which cover a 3-kilometre length and have a 600-metre height difference.
The stronghold clambers up Monte Pinaia’s whole side and is placed as a defence to Val Chisone, important way of communication between France and Italy. It’s unique in Europe both for its morphological characteristics (there is a long covered staircase inside that links together all forts: it has 4,000 steps), and for its size (1,300,000 square metres’ surface).By virtue of its likeness to the Great Wall of China, it’s commonly indicated as the great wall of Piedmont, and today is the only 18th century fortress still intact. The entire fortified compound was built according to Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy’s will, first king of Sardinia, in order to defend Turin from possible French incursions through the Monginevro pass.
Building works began in 1728 on engineer Ignazio Bertola’s plan, count of Exilles, and finished only in 1850, 122 years later.. Other famous architects took over Bertola’s work, such as De La Marche, Di Robilant, De Vincenti and Pinto.
Despite the long period of activity, the fort was never involved in warfare, and it can be asserted that its only presence was a very strong and evident dissuading element towards potential muggers. Several renovating works have been started since 1990, taken care of by Associazione Progetto San Carlo Onlus (San Carlo Project Association, n.d.T.).
Since 1999 the fort has been classified as symbol monument of the Province of Turin.
Information for visits:
A fascinating trip inside the walls