Fort Bard, Aosta Valley

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Forte di Bard (French: Fort de Bard), is a fortified complex built in the 19th century by the House of Savoy in Bard, Aosta Valley.


After being neglected for a very long time, Fort Bard has been fully repaired. It was reopened to the public in 2006 as the Museum of the Alps, which features more galleries and art shows. The main courtyard is utilized to stage musical and dramatic acts in the summer. The fort, which guards the entrance to the Aosta Valley, is situated above the Dora Baltea river in a small canyon. The ancient path between Italy and France has been governed by it for millennia. Charles Albert of Savoy constructed the existing fortifications between 1830 and 1838. It took the place of a castle from the tenth century, which had been erected over an earlier edifice that Theodoric I had established in the fifth century. Until the middle of the 13th century, when possession of the castle was transferred to the House of Savoy, it was governed by the influential local lords of Bard. The defenses were reinforced and bolstered while they were in charge.

400 Austro-Piedmontese men defeated a 40,000-man French army on May 14th, 1800 at Fort Bard. Napoleon Bonaparte’s planned to launch a surprise attack on Turin and the Po Valley was severely derailed when they successfully held the pass for two weeks. He gave the fort Vilain Castel de Bard when he learned the news. Following that, Bonaparte gave the order to destroy the fort. Charles Albert of Savoy did not order the fort to be reconstructed until 1830 when he feared further French attacks. Francesco Antonio Olivero, a renowned military engineer from Italy, was given the assignment.

The eight years of labor resulted in a fort with two unique levels. The lowest half had 50 gun ports in autonomous casemates that were supposed to provide mutual defense in the event of an attack, while the upper part had traditional battlements. The fort’s 283 rooms could now accommodate a total of 416 men. A courtyard on the upper level housed barracks and arsenals. For three months, the fort had adequate food and ammo. The fort was abandoned at the end of the 19th century after losing its military utility. The fort was still being used by the Italian Army as a powder store, nonetheless. Ownership was transferred to the Valle d’Aosta Autonomous Region government after it closed in 1975.

Even though many of the fort’s structures required immediate repair, it opened as a tourist destination in the 1980s.

The castle was abandoned in the late 1990s. After then, extensive restoration work was done. Fort Bard was reopened as the Museum of the Alps in 2006. The fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia was represented by Fort Bard and its village in Joss Whedon’s 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Featured image: wikimedia


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