forti di genova

Genoa, city of walls and forts

Rich in caruggi and historic palaces, Genoa is a city that in its hills is surrounded by the Parco delle Mura, a protected natural area that is home to several rare species of animals, and a large number of forts erected around the seventeenth century to protect the city.

In this article we find out what the forts of Genoa are and their history.

Fort Castellaccio

Fort Castellaccio was built by the Guelphs in the 14th century as a castle with “walls and ditches.”

Over the years it underwent various modifications, transforming into a fortified citadel, important for its strategic position over Genoa and the Galazzo valley, an area of the city where powder factories and corresponding storage warehouses were located.

Around the end of the 19th century it housed about 600 soldiers, with a complement of 22 cannons of different sizes and five mortars.

During World War I, however, it became a place of confinement for Austrian prisoners of war. Even during World War II, the fort was the site of executions.

Part of the fort is the Specola Tower, a keep that was the site of death sentences between the 1500s and 1700s.

Sometimes confused with Fort Castellaccio itself, the Tower is clearly visible from many parts of the city.

Fort Spur

Due to its commanding position more than 450 meters above the sea, and on the highest point of the Mura Nuove, Forte Sperone is one of Genoa’s most important fortifications, made so by the restoration that took place at the hands of the Savoys.

The fortification is imposing, built on three levels that housed:

  • warehouses, cisterns and service rooms, as well as the main entrance, on the first level;
  • The chambers and offices of officers and graduates at the second level;
  • Soldiers’ quarters on the third level.

This fort also housed prisoners of war, Croats and Serbs, during World War I.

It became barracks of the Guardia di Finanza from 1958 to 1981, and later served as a venue for cultural events by the Genoese municipality.

For lovers of legends, Fort Spur also became the stage for a murder that took place centuries before its construction. You can read it again here

Fort Begato

Among the forts in Genoa is that of Begato: this is a nineteenth-century defensive fortification built on the plateau between Forte Sperone and Val Polcevera that, during World War I and II, was used as an ammunition depot and place of imprisonment.

It comprised a large quadrangular barracks, four bastions at the corners and a central courtyard: it was equipped with 14 cannons, five howitzers and other artillery of smaller size.

Currently, the fort is closed to the public although its history, the restoration that included a museum, and its architectural interest attract many tourists. Since late 2015, the fort has been owned by the City of Genoa.

Breathtaking views of the old town, the harbor, the modern city, the Lantern, and the Ligurian Sea can be seen from Forte Begato.

Fort Tenaglia

Fort Tenaglia is a defensive-type fortification from the 1600s, whose name derives from its pincer shape, referred to as a “horn work” in military architecture.

It was built on the area that housed the Bastia di Promontorio, a 15th-century fortification whose architectural composition, however, is unknown.

In 1914 the entire fortification was abandoned because it was deemed obsolete, but reinstated during World War I to confine prisoners of war of the Austro-Hungarian army, and during World War II as an anti-aircraft weapon.

Today the complex is home to the non-profit association “The Feather,” a volunteer organization that, thanks to the restoration of the Telegraph House, has given birth to the Feather Home.

The association is involved in clearing the land of weeds, litter and topographic surveys, with socio-cultural and environmental goals for the benefit of the city.

Upon reservation, it also welcomes visitors during cultural-historical events, trekking and for other educational activities.

Forts Puin and Diamond

Forte Puin is one of the best-preserved forts: its location allows a panoramic view of the entire Parco delle Mura: this is precisely why it was used, for some years, by the City of Genoa for fire sightings.

Built during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1815, it was abandoned: its construction endures thanks to Dr. Fausto Parodi who, in 1963, lived in the fort for about 15 years, taking it under concession from the City of Genoa and restoring it at his own expense.

Today Fort Puin serves as a picnic area and meeting point for hikers and school groups: it can be visited on Sundays by contacting the Forte Puin Association-Genoa on Facebook.

Considered one of the most distinctive forts in the walled city, Genoa’s Forte Diamante was erected in the 1700s on Mount Diamante, some 667 meters above sea level.

Its dominant position allowed the city to be defended against incursions from the north: in fact, the Spur was one of the three most vulnerable sectors of the New Walls.

In the 19th century it was the site of wars between French and Habsburg troops during the Austrian siege of Genoa. New machicolations were added in 1814, and the central barracks were enlarged.Unfortunately, the fortification was finally abandoned one hundred years later, in 1914.

The facility is currently closed to the public.

Where to stay

Just under a kilometer from the city center and a hundred meters from Brignole train station, Urban Flora is the perfect place to visit Genoa and its forts.

With us you will experience a Scandinavian-modern look, where fresh and pleasant plants will make you enjoy as much relaxation as possible and for an unforgettable vacation. All rooms provide a private bathroom, smart TV and free Wi-Fi that will make you feel right at home. Book your room now or contact us to ask for more information.

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