Looking out over the valley, the first world war fortress of Belvedere – Gschwent, is after all these years, still defending the roads below. Werk Belvedere-Gschwent is build during the reign of the Austrian – Hungarian empire. The Austrian name “Werk” literally means “work” and is referring to fortress.
Build in the previous century, when the Austrian – Hungarian Empire dominated the Dolomites mountains.
The fort is situated not far from the Italian village of Lavarone at a height of 1177m.
It looks over and defends the Valley of d’Astico and was built between 1908 to 1912 under the guidance of Austrian – Hungarian Lieutenant Rudolf Schneider.
The goal was to defend the city of Trento from an attack by the Italian army. In this region is a belt of 7 forts where made to create a defensive line.
Belvedere housed 200 soldiers, some of them died during bombing (from both aircraft and artillery) in the early days of the first world war. A monument at the entrance of the complex recalls them.
The fort encountered no direct attack, the attempt for a break through of the Italian army took place in the eastern part of the defensive line, between the strong forts of “Lusern” and “Verle” But none of the attacks where made against the fort itself.
Werk Belvedere – Gschwent is the only fort that “survived” the iron hunt in the nineteen thirties after the first world war, and therefore still possesses the cupolas and cannons. Belverdere is one of the better preserved fortresses from this defensive belt of seven, it is turned into a museum high above the Valley.
The cannons, 3 pieces, are still in their domes, and there are multiple machine gun nests overlooking the Valley. The fort is strategically located and acted as guardian of the routes through the vale and also as observation post.
Upon arrival you first encounter the troops buildings. An apartment building of 3 floors high build against a mountainside. In front of the building are 2 Skoda artillery pieces.
The rest of the fort is build inside the mountain, they created, tunnels to reach the lookout posts and turrets, a tank ditch of defensive gulley is created in the middle of the fort.
The personnel bunker is turned into a museum, showing many photos and objects from this period. The weapons on display give you a good impression of the transition from the middle ages to the current vision of warfare.
It is situated beautifully high in the Dolomites, the view alone is worth the ride.
It is fairly clean and not too large, so you don’t run around too long in the cold tunnels, and you don’t have no wear special footwear.
A beautiful ride with an astonishing view of the counrtyside and a good impression of a beautiful fortress in the Italian mountains.
Location on the map, from Werk Belvedere – Gschwent near Lavarone
Museo Forte Belvedere, Lavarone, Italy (search query at Google Maps)