Fort Bard

Last updated
Fort Bard
Part of Aosta Valley
Bard
Forte di Bard 2016.jpg
View of the lower Casemates of Fort Bard.
Coordinates 45°36′30″N7°44′41″E / 45.60833°N 7.74472°E / 45.60833; 7.74472 Coordinates: 45°36′30″N7°44′41″E / 45.60833°N 7.74472°E / 45.60833; 7.74472
Type19th-century rectangular fortress with Casemates
HeightUp to 60 metres (200 ft)
Site information
Owner Autonomous region Aosta Valley
Open to
the public
Yes
ConditionRestored
Site history
Built1830–1838
Built byFrancesco Antonio Olivero
Materials Stone
Concrete
Garrison information
OccupantsMuseum of the Alps

Fort Bard, also known as Bard Fort (Italian : Forte di Bard; French : Fort de Bard), is a fortified complex built in the 19th century by the House of Savoy on a rocky prominence above Bard, a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy. [1] Fort Bard has been completely restored after many years of neglect. In 2006 it reopened to tourists as the Museum of the Alps, it has additional art exhibitions and galleries. In the summer, the main courtyard is used to host musical and theatrical performances.

Contents

History

The fort, which is at the entrance to the Aosta Valley, is located in a narrow gorge above the Dora Baltea river. It has been used for millennia to control the historic route between Italy and France. The current fortifications were built by Charles Albert of Savoy between 1830 and 1838. It replaced a 10th-century castle that had, itself, been built on an earlier structure founded by Theodoric I in the 5th century. The castle was under the control of the powerful local lords of Bard until the middle of the 13th century when ownership passed to the House of Savoy. Under their control, the defences were strengthened and improved. On May 14, 1800, a 40,000-strong French army was stopped by 400 Austro-Piedmontese soldiers at Fort Bard. They held the pass for two weeks, completely ruining Napoleon Bonaparte's plan of making a surprise attack on the Po Valley and Turin. When he heard the news, he named the fort vilain castel de Bard. Bonaparte then ordered the fort to be razed to the ground. It was not until 1830 that Charles Albert of Savoy, fearing new attacks from the French, ordered that the fort be rebuilt. The task was entrusted to the famed Italian military engineer, Francesco Antonio Olivero. The work, which took eight years to complete, created a fort with two distinct levels. The upper part had conventional battlements whereas the lower part had 50 gun ports in autonomous casemates that were designed to offer mutual protection if attacked. A total of 416 soldiers could now be billeted in the 283-room fort. The upper level had a courtyard which contained the arsenals and barracks. The fort had enough ammunition and food supplies for three months. By the end of the 19th century, the fort had lost its military value and fell into disuse. However, the Italian Army did continue to use the fort as a powder magazine. When it closed in 1975, ownership passed to the government of the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta. In the 1980s the fort opened as a tourist attraction despite many buildings needing urgent repair.

Present day

In the late 1990s the fort was closed. It then underwent major restoration work. In 2006 Fort Bard reopened as the Museum of the Alps. Fort Bard and its town were used as the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron directed by Joss Whedon.

Related Research Articles

Cottian Alps mountain range in the South-Western part of the Alps

The Cottian Alps ; are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between France and Italy (Piedmont). The Fréjus Road Tunnel and Fréjus Rail Tunnel between Modane and Susa are important transportation arteries between France and Italy (Turin).

Pennine Alps mountain range in the Western part of the Alps

The Pennine Alps, also known as the Valais Alps, are a mountain range in the western part of the Alps. They are located in Switzerland (Valais) and Italy.

Graian Alps mountain range in the Western part of the Alps

The Graian Alps are a mountain range in the western part of the Alps.

Great St Bernard Pass mountain pass in the Western Alpes

The Great St Bernard Pass is the third highest road pass in Switzerland, at an elevation of 2,469 m (8,100 ft). It connects Martigny in the canton of Valais in Switzerland with Aosta in the region Aosta Valley in Italy. It is the lowest pass lying on the ridge between the two highest mountains of the Alps, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. The pass itself is located in Switzerland in the canton of Valais, very close to Italy. It is located on the main watershed that separates the basin of the Rhône from that of the Po.

Aosta Valley Autonomous region of Italy

The Aosta Valley is a mountainous autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France, to the west, Valais, Switzerland, to the north and by the Metropolitan City of Turin in the region of Piedmont, Italy, to the south and east. The regional capital is Aosta.

Aosta Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta is the principal city of Aosta Valley, a bilingual region in the Italian Alps, 110 km (68 mi) north-northwest of Turin. It is situated near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at the confluence of the Buthier and the Dora Baltea, and at the junction of the Great and Little St. Bernard routes.

Ivrea Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Ivrea is a town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Turin in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Situated on the road leading to the Aosta Valley, it straddles the Dora Baltea and is regarded as the centre of the Canavese area. Ivrea lies in a basin that in prehistoric times formed a large lake. Today five smaller lakes — Sirio, San Michele, Pistono, Nero and Campagna — are found in the area around the town.

The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1799 with the French fighting the forces of the Second Coalition. Napoleon Bonaparte had returned from Egypt and taken control of the French government. He prepared a new campaign, sending Moreau to the Rhine frontier and personally going to take command in the Alps, where French forces had been driven almost out of Italy in 1799.

Doire former French department in Italy (1802-1814)

Doire was a department of the French Consulate and of the First French Empire in present-day Italy. It was named after the river Dora Baltea. It was formed in 1802, when the Subalpine Republic was directly annexed to France. Its capital was Ivrea.

Courmayeur Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Courmayeur is a town and comune in northern Italy, in the autonomous region of Aosta Valley.

Dora Baltea river in Italy

Dora Baltea or Doire Baltée is a river in northwestern Italy. It is a left-hand tributary of the Po River and is about 170 kilometres (110 mi) long.

Mont Cenis mountain pass in Alps

Mont Cenis is a massif and pass in Savoie (France), which forms the limit between the Cottian and Graian Alps.

Saint-Nicolas, Aosta Valley Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Saint-Nicolas is a town and comune in the autonomous region of Aosta Valley, in northern Italy. It consists of 13 hamlets located between 950 and 1,550 metres above sea level. Sitting like a balcony above the Dora Baltea Valley, Saint-Nicolas overlooks the four major lateral valleys of the mid-upper Aosta valley. These are ; Val de Cogne, Valsavarenche, Val de Rhêmes, and Valgrisenche.

Bard, Aosta Valley Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Bard is a town and comune in the Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy. It is part of the Unité des communes valdôtaines du Mont-Rose and has a population of 134.

Belvédère Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Belvédère is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. The village of Belvédère is an attractive village sitting above the river Vésubie at the entrance of the Gordolasque valley.

Verrès Castle fortification

Verrès Castle is a fortified 14th-century castle in Verrès, in the lower Aosta Valley, in north-western Italy. It has been called one of the most impressive buildings from the Middle Ages in the area. Built as a military fortress by Yblet de Challant in the fourteenth century, it was one of the first examples of a castle constructed as a single structure rather than as a series of buildings enclosed in a circuit wall.
The castle stands on a rocky promonitory on the opposite side of the Dora Baltea from Issogne Castle. The castle dominates the town of Verrès and the access to the Val d'Ayas. From the outside it looks like an austere cube, thirty metres long on each side and practically free of decorative elements.

Great St Bernard Lake mountain lake of the Pennine Alps, located south-west of Great St Bernard Pass

Great St Bernard Lake is a mountain lake of the Pennine Alps, located south-west of Great St Bernard Pass. It is divided between Switzerland and Italy, although it lies south of the Alps, within the Dora Baltea basin.

Sarriod de la Tour Castle building in Saint-Pierre, Italy

Sarriod de la Tour Castle is a castle in the town of Saint-Pierre by the Dora Baltea River, in Northwestern Italy's Aosta Valley. The original castle was typical of the style built between the 10th and 12th centuries, and was greatly expanded by Jean Sarriod in 1420 and his son, Antoine, in 1478. The north wing's ground floor features a wooden-ceilinged "Hall of Heads", named for its decorative motifs.

Fort of Exilles building in Exilles, Italy

The Exilles Fort is a fortified complex in the Susa Valley, Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont, northern Italy. Together with the nearby Fort of Fenestrelle and the Forte Albertino it was part of the defensive line between the House of Savoy lands and France: both these states held it in different phases depending on the outcome of the various wars. It is located on a spur commanding one of the narrowest sections of the Susa Valley, along the main road connecting Turin to France.

Siege of Fort Bard

The Siege of Fort Bard was a military action that took place during May 1800 during the second Napoleonic Italian campaign and stopped the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte and his Armée de Reserve with approximately 40,000 men for two weeks. The Bard Fort was commanded by Captain Josef Stockard von Bernkopf with approximately 300 Austrian troops and 100 Piedmontese soldiers.

References

Bibliography