Fortezza Fortress is one of the most striking fortresses of the Alpine area. On an area of 20 hectares, in the period between 1833 and 1838 AD, this fortress was built under the rule of Ferdinand I of Austria. The building comprises a giant labyrinth of rooms, corridors and stairways. The German name of the fortress, that is Franzensfeste, derives from Francis (Franz) I of Austria who ruled in the period when the fortress had been planned. The purpose of the Fortezza Fortress was to safeguard the traffic connection across the Alta Valle Isarco via the Brenner pass.
Partly 3,000 to 4,000 men were occupied with construction works at the same time. At the altitude of the caverns, munition was stored, while the lower part of the buildings houses the barracks. The two parts of the fortress were connected by a stairway with 433 steps, hewn in stone. Even if the fortification was actually designed for war purposes, it was never really involved in struggles. Still today, in the surroundings, there are several more pillboxes that were constructed around 1930 by the Italian army in order to once more fortify the Fortezza Fortress.
Today the complex can be visited in guided tours and features a museum. The permanent exhibition provides information about the history of this place and its surroundings. It also ventures the guess that the hoar of gold of the Italian National Bank was hidden in this place in WWII. Moreover the exhibition forges a bridge up to the present days and the future. By the way, the fortress today is also venue for various events such as the European Biennal of Contemporary Art Manifesta7 as well as some cultural events.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.