The fort of Bard – a guide

fortebard3 Fortress

Forte di Bard, Valle d’Aosta Bard Fortress is an impressive work of the barrier, erected to block the Valle d’Aosta. The fortress occupies the entire rocky spur the strategic rail access through the valley. The present fort was constructed between 1830 and 1838 on the ruins of an earlier castle, destroyed in 1800 by troops of Napoleon.

On that occasion, after having endured a siege of 15 days, the garrison surrendered – with military honors – to the ‘Armée Réserve de France, consisting of 40,000 men who had crossed the Alps at the Great St. Bernard.

The complex of the Forte di Bard, designed by military engineer Francesco Antonio Olivero, is composed of several independent buildings, which can ensure mutual defense.

The fort of Bard is a perfect example of the military architecture, has powerful artillery (50 guns of various calibres including mortars, howitzers and cannons), housed in casemates placed on different levels. It could accommodate 416 men (doubled accommodation with straw on the ground) and had stocks to withstand a siege of three months. This fortress was never the scene of clashes and was then preserved virtually intact.

ascensoreSome numbers are sufficient to give an idea of the size of this bulwark of the Forte di Bard: 14,467 square meters, 283 rooms, 106 m in altitude, 806 steps, courtyards 2,036 sqm, 9,000 sqm of roof, 1295 square meters of corridors, 385 doors, 323 windows and 296 slots. Since the end of the war the Fort of Bard gradually lost its military importance and was designed as a military prison and a munitions depot.

Fort of Bard, owned by the Autonomous Region Valle d’Aosta since 1990, is undergoing a major renovation and enhancement.

The fortress is open to the public since January 15, 2006.

Over 3,600 square meters are intended for permanent or temporary venues.

Access to the Forte di Bard is possible, as well as the historic driveway with convenient elevators.

cortile_bardThe Alps Museum

The Forte di Bard, Valle d’Aosta hosts the Museum of Alpsl Bard Fort is a popular cultural center. The structure of the summit of the Bard Fort, called Opera Carlo Alberto, is home to a large and important museum that describes the Alps, with the help of modern audio-visual, geological, natural, geographical, historical, anthropological exhibitions of the Alps, mountains par excellence.

The modern museum setting, curated by Daniele Jalla, Alain Montferrand, with the use of innovative and spectacular audio-visual technologies, is able to amaze and thrill adults and children. The exhibition has 29 rooms that deal with the many faces of the mountain: from geological history to those human populations from traditional to contemporary life, from mountaineering to winter sports, not to mention the flora, fauna, languages, traditions, etc.

From May 2009 is also open the “Alpine section of the boys”, realized within Opera Vittorio, designed to bring younger people to climbing through very engaging interactive works. There the boys areis bound in rope and proceed as for a real climb. They prepare the backpack, study the path, face many dangers and difficulties of the high mountains to reach the summit for a well deserved photo.

The area is also equipped with new learning and logistics spaces for schools .

In the future in the Opera Ferdinand and Opera mortars – the lowest buildings – there will also open a museum and a Museum of Fort border of the Forte di Bard, dedicated to the history of military strength and our mountains.

On the first floor of the reception, at the start of elevators, opened the InfoLounge, an information and promotion of tourism in the Valle d’Aosta.

Some local side of the large square arms instead are hosting space “Vallée cultures”, showcasing the rich historical and artistic heritage of the Val d’Aosta, a true “portal” of our region.

To accommodate visitors, the giant fort also has a cafe-restaurant, housed within the powder keg of the Fort of Bard.

In the future, atop the ancient covered stairway, there will eventually open a shop of typical products.

fortebard6Pratical info:

Entrance to the Museum of the Alps, Forte di Bard, Valle d’Aosta hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 to 18:00 and Saturday and Sunday 10.00-20.00 Closed on Mondays.

Admission to the Forte di Bard is 8 euro, the reduced is 6 euro and € 4 for children 6 to 12 years. The reduced rate applies to seniors over 65, children under 12 years, groups of at least twenty members. Free under 6 years old and disabled. Free every 20 paying.

Schools (6-18): 4,00 €

One adult free for every 15 students

Families: Reduced ticket for two adults with at least two minor children

The ticket office closes one hour before the Fort


groups (max 25 persons): € 60.00 (including input and guidance); family / small group (max 5 persons): 9,00 €
individual entry: 3.00 €, reduced fare only (6-12 years, over 65 students): € 2.00
free entry (0-6 years old, disabled, journalists)

Prisons of the Fort: 1 Euro, free for minors.

Special opening YEAR 2010
Monday, April 5 (Easter Monday), Saturday, May 1, Monday, May 31, Wednesday, June 2, Monday, November 1

Summer opening of continued strong
from July 26 to August 22: 10:00 to 19:30

Week for the annual closure of the Fort
from 22 November to 3 December 2010

Where to stay in Bard

There are high quality hotels, apartments, hostels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

How to reach the Forte di Bard.

For those coming from Piedmont: Take the motorway A5 Turin – Aosta – Monte Bianco, exit at Pont-Saint-Martin and turn left along the SS 26. Following the directions to Aosta, past the town of Donnas, you get a brief view of the Fort (6 km). After passing a short tunnel, after the bend, pull over to the right and enter the covered parking (cost 2 euros). Free parking is located a few hundred meters ahead on the left side of the road. To access it you need to reverse the roundabout just after post. For those coming from Aosta: Verrès exit, turn right and follow the road until you para before the bulk of Forte (9 km). 100 m after the roundabout on the right Hône is free parking.

The Fort of Bard, to the Valle d’Aosta is easily reached for a day visit from all cities in Norther Italy.

Here the distance and travel time from some northern cities:

  • Turin: 53 km, half-hour
  • From Milan: 135 km an hour and a half
  • Genoa: 195 km, 1 hour and 50 ‘
  • From Varese: 145 km an hour and a half
  • Novara: 90 km an hour
  • Bergamo: 175 km, 1 hour and 45 ‘
  • From Como: 165 km, 1 hour and 40 ‘
  • From Pavia: 170 km, 1 hour and 45 ‘

cast_bardx480Work History of Forte di Bard

Castle Bard (Theatrum Sabaudiae, 1685) The fortress and the ancient village of Bard is truly a concentration of historical evidence.

The close is a must for crossing the Aosta Valley. Because of its strategic location, the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the graffitis made knobs on the rocks at the base of the fortress.

In Roman times the significant traces of the consular road, still visible in and around the Bard, suggest the existence of military structures. Its role as a “closed” is attested since the sixth century when there were placed the “clusurae Augustana” of King Theodoric.

A document of the ninth century, speaks of a “stone castle”, supporting the hypothesis of an origin of Late Antique fortifications.

Another document refers to the Medieval passage of Count Umberto “Biancamano” in 1034 “per PRAECISA saxa inexpugnabilis opidi Bardi”. There was therefore an impregnable castle for the control of the important transit route below that allowed the successful collection of tolls.

Eleventh century castle and the surrounding territories are in possession of the illustrious dynasty of the lords of Bard, the most influential aristocrats of the region. In 1242 Count Amedeo IV, allied with the Viscount of Aosta, Hugh threat of Bard and probably no need for military action, took possession of the feud since then enters the direct rule of Savoy who organize a castle.

In 1661 Duke Carlo Emanuele II moves here all the artillery of the castles and Montjovet Verrès, making it become the only stronghold of the Savoy region.

casa_nicolax320The village of Bard

Nicholas’ house accounts, western gate of the city. Keep the signs of the siege napoleonical village developed in the Middle Ages along the old Roman road that still retains some structures.

In the past the town was fortified and sealed by two doors. The church in 1868, is rebuilt on a much older, as in the bell tower.

Bard maintains several buildings of merit, as Challant home and the home of Nicholas count, embellished with frescoes and decorations external and internal. Even the less prestigious buildings still retain precious architectural elements that testify to the vitality of this village in medieval times. The passage of nobles, merchants and pilgrims necessitated the creation of various services, taverns and two homes, one of which is still recognizable. Bard lost its role as a village road when in 1857 the new road that bypasses the verrou side of Dora was built.

Out in the village, the “home of the Meridian”, managed by the Cultural Adret, offers an interesting assortment of local products and the exciting possibility of “tasting theater.” For groups that are organized visits to the village with theatrical animation.

From the recovery of the ancient village has raised two new hotels: the Hotel Stendhal and the Hotel Ad Gallias.

The first is at the top of the street of the village, opposite the church, and owes its name to Henry Beyle, a young revolutionary soldier who took part in the siege century, then became a great writer with the pseudonym Stendhal. Stendhal Hotel occupies a building that was once a hospice for pilgrims, then a barracks and then the town hall, until the recent renovations.

The second hotel was born from attentive renovation of two old buildings, located right at the entrance of the village. The Gallias Hotel also offers wellness with sauna, turkish bath, etc.., made in very striking rooms.

Events in the Village and the Fort of Bard

Handmade wooden crib, cribs Bard submitted to the contest from Dec. 6 to Jan. 6, the Bard welcomes hundreds of nativity craft participating in the competition cribs on display. Some are made with fine wood carvings, others are simple compositions hidden in the secret corners of the country. Play of light and images projected on the façades of the old village complete the charm of this initiative. Go there after sunset.

On Christmas Eve we would recommend also impressive and the traditional nativity scene.

Midsummer fireworks marketplace of local products, and entertainment with jugglers, magicians and theater throughout the Bard.

In the evenings of theater visits in August the village Adret Theatre Company.

During the summer it plays loud music, an event that offers various musical events in the Fort.

11 to 12 September 2010 between Arnad and Bard there will be held on 3rd Bard Boulder Contest, meet international climbing boulder. An event not to be missed for all lovers of bouldering. The sporting event takes place in natural and built environment and is designed for all climbing enthusiasts, beginners and advanced, with the aim of enhancing the rock climbing, nature and cultural resources of the Valle d’Aosta.

October 10, 2010: Le Marché au Fort. Many stalls in the streets of Bard, at the foot of the Fort, offering all the traditional products of the Valle d’Aosta. A large and impressive exhibition with opportunities for tasting and purchase the best of regional production.

Around the Forte di Bard

To the west of the village is seen one of the most impressive potholes in the Valle d’Aosta, 7 m wide 4 deep. Together with the surrounding rock knobs and some boulders, witness the action, up to 20,000 years ago, ancient glacier Balteo that, with a thickness of about 1 km from Monte Bianco reached up to Ivrea.

On the same rocks smoothed by the glacier can be seen interesting rock carvings and a slide rite.


Since 2007 the privately owned area with the archaeological and geological has been safely inserted into an archaeological park accessible only on payment. Cost: 5 euro, 2 euros with the ticket of the Alps Museum, 1.50 for groups.

In the area there are several possible day trips, including: the path of the bridges in Pontboset, the gorges of the Valley Champorcher, paths and Barmet grehe.

The defense of Fort Bard was complemented by some fortifications built on the hills nearby, with excursions to visit some longer: a Machaby, the Tête de Cou, the Serre Biel. A scenic hike allows you to get to Albard, mountain village of Bard that preserves ancient rural buildings, which dominates the whole fortress.

Of great interest is the visit to the nearby Gaul road and the Roman bridge in Pont-Saint-Martin, which, with its 36 m in length, is the longest Roman bridge with a single an arch, exist yet.

How to visit the site of the Forte di Bard with a guide

For schools Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide has a trip of guided tours of the entire site: Fortress, museum, village, Roman road and archaeological site.

For groups he has created some programs to visit the Fort of Bard and the surrounding area.

Near the Fort also different possibilities of climbing and canyoning. To learn more, contact the Alpine guides of Arnad.
Translated into English by Enrico from the original © posting of Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide For guided visits to the Bard Fortress and all other Valle d’Aosta touristic and naturalistic sites contact Donato via email. or Tel. +39-339 8801526 Fax +39-178 2207939.