The Early Effects of Gunpowder on Fortress Design
The introduction of gunpowder did not immediately transform the battlefields of Europe....
Werk Gschwent Lavarone, today better known as Forte Belvedere, was designed by the Lieutenant of the Army Corps of EngineersEng. Rudolf Schneider and built between 1908 and 1912 not far from the Oseli village, on a limestone headland (1177m above sea level) overhanging the Astico valley. This valley marked at that time the frontier between the Italian Kingdom and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The fortress consists of several blocks carved into the mountain: the main blockhouse - which housed quarterings, warehouses, supply and transport - the battery block in a forward-facing position, the counterscarp in the moat and three armoured outposts. In order to withstand the heaviest bombing the stronghold was equipped with more than 2,5m coverage of concrete in which was incorporated a triple layer of 400 mmm-thick steel beams. Conceived, like the other strongholds on the plateaus, to withstand in complete autonomy the bombings that could last for days, it was provided with a large warehouse, an aqueduct with a water purifier, an internal power station, an emergency room for the injured, a telephone exchange and a room for the optical telegraph to communicate with the outside.
Under the command of Captain Anton Perschitz, the garrison consisted of one hundred and sixty Landsschützen (1st Regiment) supported by sixty territorials. The armament was composed of three howitzer calibre 10cm in armed cupola, manufactured by Skoda Werke, Pilsen in Bohemia, and of twenty-two machine guns. Although during the first year of war it underwent heavy bombings and losses it was not hit as heavily as the area of Passo Vezzena and Luserna, where the attacks put to a severe trial the strongholds of Cima Vezzena, Busa Verle and Lusérn. Due to its location overlooking the Astico valley it never suffered a direct assault by the Italian infantry. During the Post-war period the fort became State property and it was lent for a long period to the Municipality of Lavarone. Unlike the other strongholds of the plateaus, Forte Belvedere escaped the demolition ordered by the Fascist government in times of self sufficiency by royal decree of King Vittorio Emanuele III.
Article and Image Source: http://www.fortebelvedere.org
Keywords: Fort, Belvedere, WWI, Italy, History, Architecture, Conservation