Covering 320 acres, Fenestrelle Fortress, also known as the Great Wall of the Alps, is among the largest fortifications in Europe. It was built by Victor Amadeus II of the House of Savoy to protect his expanded territory after the Nine Years’ War (1688-97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14).
House of Savoy was the longest-surviving royal line in Europe, established in 1003. During the late 17th century and the early 18th century, the dusch was caught between the crossfires of Louis XIV’s France and the forces of England, Austria, and other countries in the Grand Alliance. Nevertheless, the period’s leader Victor Amadeus II knew how to protect his seat as well as the duchy. He betrayed first the alliance in the Nine Years’ War, then the French in the War of Spanish Succession.
At the end of the wars, the duke expanded his domain and became the King of Sardinia. Now that the duchy’s territory became more open to threats, the duke decided to have a fortress built. Built between 1728 and 1850, the Fenestrelle fortress lies 60 miles west of Turin, guarding the Chisone Valley. The complex comprises three forts, ramparts, batteries, barracks, a mansion, a parade ground, and a church. Nevertheless, the most impressive part of Fenestrelle Fortress is probably its 3,996-step stairway. Unlike the parallel 2500-step open stairway, a stone roof covers this longer stairway to shield the troops.