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Gemeinde Franzensfeste
Comune di Fortezza
Franzensfeste is located in Italy
Location of Franzensfeste in Italy
Coordinates: 46°47′N 11°37′E / 46.783°N 11.617°E / 46.783; 11.617Coordinates: 46°47′N 11°37′E / 46.783°N 11.617°E / 46.783; 11.617
Country Italy
Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Province / Metropolitan city South Tyrol
Frazioni Grassstein (Pradisopra), Mittewald (Mezzaselva)
 • Mayor Thomas Klapfer SVP (2015)
 • Total 61.74 km2 (23.84 sq mi)
Elevation 749 m (2,457 ft)
Population (31 December 2013)[1]
 • Total 972
 • Density 16/km2 (41/sq mi)
Demonym(s) German:Festinga
Italian: Fortezzini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 39045
Dialing code 0472
Website Official website

Franzensfeste (German pronunciation: [ˈfrantsn̩sˌfɛstə]; Italian: Fortezza [forˈtettsa]) is a village in South Tyrol in northern Italy. The village is famous for its large fort and the historic railway-station.


Franzensfeste is 19 kilometres (12 mi) south of Sterzing and 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Brixen in the Eisacktal where the valley is only a few hundred meters wide. The village is situated on the western side along with the Brenner Railway and the state road SS12 while the Brenner Highway A22, running elevated on the same side, pass through the lake in its northern part entering a tunnel on the opposite side; the state road cross than the Eisack river nearby the railway station due north.



Franzensfeste was founded recently, the village dates from the 19th century when the construction of the fortifications was begun, to which the site is also closely linked in name (into Italian language), and the railway. The municipality was originally Mittewald, still the common land, with the two villages of Oberau and Unterau. Franzensfeste forms part of the Sachsenklemme; itself an area of the Eisacktal valley. Archeological findings have shown the area to be settled by 2500 B.C. as indicated by the finding of home pottery. The site has always played an important role in the transit of goods on the north-south bound, first as the Amber Road between Greece, Sicily and Northern Europe later in the Roman period, between Aquileia and the regions beyond the Alps; also a 140-metre (460 ft) long stretch of the Roman Via Claudia Augusta has been unearthed.[2]

In the 17th century, where the station is now placed, there were a few farms, one of which, was turned into an inn with the name "Post-Reifer". It is still in operation today. The military importance of the place was evident during the Tyrolean Rebellion in 1809 when General Lefebvre, under the command of 2500 Saxon troops, was defeated in an ambush by Andreas Hofer’s Tyroleans near Sachsenklemme then called the "gorge of the Saxons”.

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor wanted to build a defensive system, for fear of an invasion from the south; the village was settled for strategic purposes; it is well protected by the surrounding mountainous and can block the entrance to the Eisack valley.[3] Work began on June 17, 1833, and the Franzensfeste Fortress was inaugurated by Ferdinand I of Austria on August 18, 1838. The construction of the fortress and later of the Brenner railway, helped thousands of workers who found accommodation in Franzensfeste contributing to the development and growth of the village.

In 1867 with the opening of the Brenner railway Franzensfeste consolidated its role not only on the north-south direction, but also to the Puster Valley and to Maribor, involving in the construction of the Puster Valley railway, the southern part of the fortification. With the signing of the military agreement Triple Alliance in 1882, by the Emperors of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy, the Franzensfeste Fortress lost its strategic importance and was transformed into a military ammunition depot, which kept even when was transferred to Italy in 1918.

In 1939 began the construction of the hydroelectric basin for the power plant in Brixen made necessary for the electrification of the railway; the work was completed the following year and the village of Unterau was flooded. Franzensfeste in 1940 was elevated to municipality, became an important railway junction and the infrastructure for the maintenance of the locomotives and housing the staff were built.[4]

Until the 1990s Franzensfeste was an important customs goods-station for cattle, but with the entry of Austria in the European Community has lost importance.

In the summer of 2008 the fortress of Franzenfeste was opened to the public for the first time as one of the locations of Manifesta 7, the European Biennial of Contemporary art.[5] In 2009 the location hosted the so-called "Landesausstellung", an event remembering the Bicentenaire of the Tyrolean riots in 1809.[6]


The emblem of Fortress consists of an argent inverted upsilon symbolizing the roads to the village. The gules area, on top left, symbolizes the rock; the azure, top right, the lake and the vert the meadows. The emblem was adopted in 1968. [7]


Linguistic distribution[edit]

According to the 2011 census, 59.63% of the population speak German, 38.51% Italian and 1.86% Ladin as first language.[8]

The Fort of Franzensfeste


  1. ^ All demographics and other statistics from the Italian statistical institute (Istat)
  2. ^ (Italian) (German) Gemeinde Franzensfeste: The Roman road
  3. ^ "Franzensfeste/ Fortezza (South Tyrol)". Tirol Atlas. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  4. ^ (German) Geschichte Tirol
  5. ^ "Locations: Fortezza/Franzensfeste". Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  7. ^ (English) Heraldry of the World: Franzensfeste
  8. ^ "Volkszählung 2011/Censimento della popolazione 2011". astat info (Provincial Statistics Institute of the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol) (38): 6–7. June 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 


  • Christoph Hackelsberger, Die k.k. Franzensfeste: ein Monumentalwerk der Befestigungskunst des 19. Jahrhunderts. Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag 1986, ISBN 978-3-422-00795-6

External links[edit]

Media related to Franzensfeste at Wikimedia Commons