The Fort of Gavi is a purely defensive historical fortress built by the Genoese on a pre-existing medieval castle. It is state property and is used as a museum structure.
Forte di Gavi History
The fortress stands on a natural fortress overlooking the ancient village of Gavi.
It was built by incorporating a pre-existing castle built, according to legend, at the time of the Saracen occupations and anointed by Princess Gavia who had established her residence in that location. According to legend, the princess was of French origin, so much so that even today the path leading to the fort bears the name of Monserito
The first document that testifies to the existence of the castle is a notarial act dating back to the year 973. A subsequent imperial diploma signed by Henry VI of Swabia, son of Federico Barbarossa, confirms - on May 30, 1191 - the donation in fief to the Republic of Genoa both of the castle and of the nearby village of Gavi.
The castle remained the property of the Genoese, albeit with ups and downs, at least until 1418 when it passed first to the Milanese Lordship of the Visconti, then to the Fregoso family and finally to the Alexandrian Guasco, lords of Francavilla.
Over the centuries the transformation from castle to fort has been slow but constant: the first radical interventions on the original structure were made in 1540 by the military engineer in the service of the Republic Giovanni Maria Olgiati.
Disarmed in 1859, the fort was transformed into a civil penitentiary. During the First World War it was used as a prison camp for the Austro-Hungarians, while during the Second World War it was used as a prison camp for Anglo-American officers.
The fortress can be visited in the various main rooms that make it up: the internal and external courtyards, the guard towers, the cells used as a prison, the warehouses that were used to store supplies, the entrances to the fort equipped with defensive drawbridges. Educational rooms in which war finds are exhibited and a section of detailed descriptive and historical tables complete the museum itinerary.