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Fort of Belvedere

Built between 1908 and 1912, Fort Belvedere Gschwent is one of the largest Austro-Hungarian mountain fortresses ever built. In the construction of the fortress, the designer Rudolf Schneider adopted new and experimental solutions. It is immediately noticeable that the fort is no longer conceived as a construction in which everything is collected in a single architectural complex, but as an articulated work that consists of several forts for close combat; all connected by corridors and rock tunnels.

The steep rock cliffs on three sides gave Forte Belvedere a natural security against enemy infantry assaults; moreover, a deep ditch had been dug along the front line and a double band of reticulates had been planted. Forte Belvedere could, therefore, be said to be practically impregnable in the full sense of the term.

Completed on May 18, 1912, Forte Belvedere was built and tested to withstand even the heaviest bombings and represents a modern and rational work where concrete and iron have been expertly amalgamated with the rock.

At the end of the conflict, Forte Belvedere, like the other forts in this area , became the property of the Italian state. In the twenties, a line of seven fortresses in a state of partial efficiency was there, among the pastures and woods of these mountains, in memory of a war still too close to be forgotten.

About a decade later, however, the serious crisis in the steel industry, leads to think of the demolition of the armored works of the First World War. In the mid-thirties many of the forts were mined to recover the iron contained in them, thus being reduced to piles of rubble. Forte Belvedere, unlike the others, was saved from demolition by the intervention of King Vittorio Emanuele III who wanted at least one fort to remain a perennial testimony of the Great War for future generations. 

With great foresight, in the sixties the Osele family bought the fort to exploit its tourist value, equipping it with a lighting system and indicative tables of the various rooms and making it visitable as a museum of itself. In 1997 the fort, one of the largest and best preserved, was purchased by the municipality of Lavarone which, with the collaboration of the Province, carried out a series of restoration and enhancement of the site. 

The complex, which also serves as a war museum, has been enriched since 2008 with multimedia installations that offer visitors the everyday life inside the fortress. The rooms on the ground floor are dedicated to the history of the fortified system, while on the first floor the military operations in this stretch of front are narrated and materials relating to the "White War" are exhibited. 

On the second floor are placed objects and documents that testify to the conditions of daily life of soldiers in the trenches (weapons, uniforms, medical materials), propaganda materials and testimonies in the memory of the war.

Additional information:

Opening hours:
March: open every Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 to 17.00
April: Monday closed (open only on 2 and 30), Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00
May and June: Monday closed, Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00
July and August: open every day from 10.00 to 18.00 September: Monday closed (except 3), Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00 October: open every Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00
November: open from 1 to 4 from 10.00 to 17.00
December: open from 8 to 9 and from 26 to 30 from 10.00 to 16.30

The guided tour service remains active on any day by reservation (minimum 20 people) by contacting the number (0039) 0464 780005 or by sending an email to the following address:

- full price 7 €
- reduced 5 €
- family entrance 16 €

How to get there:
From the SS 47 della Valsugana reach Calceranica and then follow the signs for Vigolo Vattaro, from here continue towards the Altopiano di Lavarone; To reach the fort there are also indicative tables and special parking lots where you can leave your car. From here about 15 minutes on foot and you reach the fortress.

To learn more:
Forte Belvedere: catalogo del museo - Werk Gschwent: Katalog des Museums, a cura di Lucio Fabi, Comune di Lavarone, Cremona, Persico edizioni, 2002.

Forte Belvedere Gschwent: guida all'architettura, alla tecnica e alla storia della fortezza austro-ungarica di Lavarone, Mario Puecher; a cura di Giuseppe Leonardi e Christian Prezzi, Trento: Curcu & Genovese, 2006


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