Page 9 - Guida della Valchisone
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introductioncammino coperto e alcuni ruderi.
            Il Forte di Fenestrelle è la più importante opera militare alpina esistente in Eu-
            ropa. I lavori di edificazione iniziarono nel 1727 (arch. militare Ignazio Bertola)
            e finirono intorno al 1850. Presenta la conformazione di una lunga muraglia a
            serravalle, percorsa al suo interno da una scalinata di ben 4.000 gradini. La
            muraglia s’inerpica per circa 3km con un dislivello di 600m e collega, in suc-
            cessione dal basso verso l’alto, tre nuclei fortificati (Forte San Carlo, Forte
            Tre Denti, Forte delle Valli). Nel corso degli anni la fortezza divenne, oltre che
            presidio militare difensivo, anche luogo reclusorio per militari agli arresti, carbo-
            nari, rivoluzionari e per delinquenti comuni. Fu poi definitivamente abbandonata
            dall’Esercito Italiano nel 1947, per obblighi imposti dal trattato di pace. Oggi è
            il monumento simbolo della Provincia di Torino ed è gestito, su concessione del
            Demanio, dall’Assoc. Progetto San Carlo Onlus, la quale si occupa dal 1990 del
            rilancio turistico, storico e culturale.
            Researching the origins of Fenestrelle is arduous; it is known that Fenestrelle already exi-
            sted in Roman times as a small trading point along the Roman road. Numerous small towns
            and villages in the alpine arc formed the region of Donno and Cozio of which Fenestrelle
            was the border. It is maybe from this that the origin of the name ‘finis terre cotii’ originated,
            (land’s end). In the 11th. Cent. Fenestrelle passed over to the reign of the Counts of Savoy
            and in 1078 to the abbots of the Abbey of St. Verano in Pinerolo. It remained under their
            control until 1191 when it passed to the ‘Delfino of Vienna’. From 1349 the area was then
            under French control until 1713 when the treaty of Utrecht confirmed it as Piedmont. Apart
            from military conflicts, the area has witnessed other terrible scenes such as the religious
            persecution of the Waldensians by the Catholics.
            What distinguishes Fenestrelle and the surrounding area above all is the rich environment
            of mountain pastures, woods, wild animals, military roads and breathtaking scenery which
            it has to offer. Fenestrelle has thousands of years of history as is reflected by some of the
            monuments: the ancient medieval city walls, the marvellous Parish Church of St. Luis IX of
            France, the Jesuit convent dating back to 1659, the ancient communal bread oven and the
            famous Fortress of Fenestrelle stretching up the ridge of Mount Orsiera. There are a num-
            ber of hamlets that form part of the council area of Fenestrelle: Champs, Mentoulles, Ville-
            cloze, Grange, Chambons, Depot, Fondufaux, La Latta and the most characteristic Puy and
            Pequerel. They are ancient villages and preserve their typical alpine, rural architecture.
            Fort Mutin is a bastioned fort constructed under the orders of Louis XIV ‘The Sun King’
            on the suggestion of the commandant of the French forces in Piemonte, Gen. Catinat, to
            block the access to the upper Chisone. Designed by arch. Guy de Richerand it covered an
            area of 96,000m² with the classic pentagonal form, according to the classic designs of the
            fortifications of the plains and it was inadequate due to the mountain terrain. The famous
            French engineer, Vauban, visited the fort in 1700 and defined the fort as, «a small stone in
            the bottom of a funnel». He then went on to say, «if it hadn’t cost so much to build in the
            first place I wouldn’t have hesitated an instant to have it demolished». Vauban’s criticism
            was proven correct in 1708 when the fort was captured after a siege of only 15 days.
            The treaty of Utrecht of 1713 assigned the territory, to His Royal Highness Victor Amadeus
            II, and considering the vulnerability of the fort, had a new one built in 1728 to block the
            valley on the left bank of the Chisone river; this being the Fortress of Fenestrelle.
            Fort Mutin, now obsolete, was demolished by military engineers in 1836 and replaced with
            the construction of the Carlo Alberto redoubt, reutilising stones from the demolished fort.
            To this day you can still see the ruins of the southern face of Fort Mutin among which;
            the bastions of Roudour and Des Aiguiles between which still exists the curtain wall, the
            covered walkway and ruins of the casemates.
            The fortress of Fenestrelle is one of the most important alpine military structures in Eu-
            rope. Construction works started in 1728 under the supervision of the military arch. I.
            Bertola and ended around 1850. The long fortress wall climbs for 600m over a distance
            of approximately 3km. The fortress isn’t a single building but a series of redouts and
            blockhouses (Fort San Carlo, Fort Tre Denti and Fort ‘delle Valli’), all connected by a cove-
            red staircase that comprises 4000 steps. Over the years the fortress, apart from just being
            used for military defence, was also a prison for soldiers, carbonari, revolutionaries as well
            as common criminals. It was eventually abandoned by the Italian military in 1947 who were
            obliged to do so by peace treaty. Now the Fort is the monumental symbol of the Province
            of Turin and is managed by the San Carlo Assoc., which since 1990 has been dedicated in
            promoting the fortress, be it for tourism, history or culture.
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