Fenestrelle Fort, The Great Piedmont Wall
Art & Culture

Fenestrelle Fort, The Great Piedmont Wall


Fenestrelle Fort, The Great Piedmont Wall

The Fenestrelle Fort is a colossal work created on a mountain ridge spanning over 2 miles, consisting of an uninterrupted series of fortifications joined together by ramparts, ramps, lifts and stairs.


Fenestrelle Fort lies in Val Chisone, near Turin and more precisely in Fenestrelle - the most impressive alpine fortification in Europe, and the second largest in the world only to the Chinese Wall. It is often called the "Great Piedmont Wall".


Records of the Fenestrelle Fort date back to 1727, signed by engineer Ignazio Bertola on the commission of King Vittorio Amedeo II. The purpose of the project was essentially to defend from foreign invasions. The fortress was to be developed along the Italian-French border, and work began the following year. The entire work was carried out over a period of 122 years on a total area of 1,350,000 square meters, spanning over 2 miles long and an altitude of 635-meters high.


The whole complex consists of three forts - San Carlo, Tre Denti and the Fort delle Valli with 7 smaller ones, as well as palaces, dusters and cannons.

All structures are linked together with stairs - a staircase with 4000 steps and a staircase with 2500 steps. The first was built inside an artificial tunnel with a 2-meter thick wall and winds for almost 1 mile. The second staircase is extremely panoramic and was built on the open sky with an inert at the side of the Scala Coperta.

In addition to its defensive role, the fort was also used as a state prison - in the rooms of the palaces prestigious criminals were imprisoned, while common prisoners were held in the barracks.


During the Second World War, the fort was the scene of some small battles, but at the end of the conflict the entire complex suffered total abandonment. Only since 1990 has the Fort returned to life thanks to the help of volunteers of San Carlo Onlus Association and in 1998 it was recognized as a symbolic monument of the Province of Turin.

Visiting this hamlet is today an unparalleled experience and walking through the fortresses conveys the feeling of going back in time -  a real journey into history in a landscaped setting of extraordinary beauty.

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