Fortress of FortezzaStreet Art // Thursday, 15 Sep 2011
“Begun under Francis I in the year 1833 – completed by Ferdinand I in the year 1838”, reads the Latin inscription over the gate of the fortress. In just five years, over 6,000 workers and soldiers built a blocking position at one of the narrowest points in the Eisack valley. It has the dimensions of a small town and, with a surface area of 20 hectares, is the largest fortification in the Alpine region. With this monumental defensive work the Habsburgs hoped to halt the advance of the revolutionary changes provoked by the French revolution. Designed by regimental engineer Franz von Scholl, it consists of three autonomous sections: the upper, middle and lower fortress levels. It has clear and simple classicist lines; it is functional and impregnable. As the military threat did not materialize in the decades following its construction, however, the fortress rapidly lost its importance. By the end of the 19th century it was merely used as a powder depot. In 1918 Franzensfeste came under Italian rule and was used by the army until 2003.