The defensive system of the lagoon
Fortified Place. The Lagoon is a complex of fortifications built by the Serenissima and other various empires: (French, Austrian, Kingdom of Italy) in order to protect the city as well as the Venetian lagoon. In 810, the lagoon was the main safeguard of Venice with the new power center of the Duchy “Rialto”, placed in a protected area of the lagoon and difficult to navigate due to the presence of shoals and sandbanks. For the defense of its territory, the Venetians relied on its fleet, castles, the ancient walls and chain barrier for access to the Grand Canal.
With the growing influence of the Serenissima Republic, the protection of the city was entrusted to the fleet of the Arsenal with function as a fortress and garrison house, in addition to several galleys which controlled the inlets.
The Torre Delle Bebbe (tower), located on the mainland, was built at the mouth of “Medoacus Minor” (river in Roman times in the area of Padua) in order to have better control and protection towards Padua, at the time in conflict with the Republic of Venice. The Republic of Venice designed a special protection system that improved in the fourteenth century towards the mainland with the construction of a castle in Mestre as a bastion of defense for the city of Venice.
In 1380, being Venice at war with Genoa, the Ligurian fleet entered the lagoon through Chioggia forcing it to close the waterway leading directly to the basin of Saint Mark. Towards the sixteenth century, the defenses were further strengthened in 1538 with the new Fort of San Felice in Chioggia, followed, in 1543, by the Fort of Sant’Andrea at Porto di Lido built by the Italian architect Michele Sanmicheli. During the same period, was also built the Fort of St. Erasmo in Venice and Fort Brontolo in Chioggia.
In 1571, were built up new octagons for the protection of the mouth of Malamocco and, in 1591, the defense at the north of the lagoon was strengthened with the establishment of Fort San Nicolò. In 1646, because of Turkish threats, the port of Malamocco was strengthened by means of two forts completed in 1726 known as the Fort of San Pietro and Fort Alberoni.
The defensive systems were divided as follows: Port of Lido in the north with the Fort of Saint Erasmo, Fort of Sant’Andrea and Fort of San Nicolò, Port Malamocco with Fort Alberoni, Fort of San Pietro, Alberoni Octagon, Octagon Cà Roman, Octagon San Pietro, Octagon Campana and Octagon Poveglia; Port of Chioggia with the Fort of San Felice and the Fort Brondolo.
With the treaty of Campoformio, the Austrian Empire strengthened the defense of the lagoon without completing it because of the arrival of the French in 1805 who, in turn, continued with the work of consolidation until the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.
The defensive system at sea to the north side: Fort of Treporti (1845); Torre Massimiliana (1811-1830); Batteria Quattro Fontane (1835); Batteria Casabianca (1881); Fort of Malamocco (1847); Batteria Rocchetta (1850); Batteria Podo (1881). The defensive system of the lagoon north: Batteria Buel del Lovo; Ridotto Mazzorbetto (1807); Batteria Carbonera; Batteria Tessera; Batteria Campalto; Fort of San Secondo; Fort of San Giorgio in Alga (1847), Fort of Sant’Angelo della Polvere; Batteria Campana; Batteria Poveglia; Batteria Fisolo.
The majestic Fort Marghera was a further defense for Venice in correspondence to the position in which the land was approaching the city. The realization of the entrenched camp in Mestre began in 1883 and included: Strong Carpenedo towards north ended in 1887; Strong Gazzera at north-west completed in 1886, Strong Tron at south-west completed in 1887. The three forts, such as security in the second line, had a polygonal shape and were built not far from Forte Marghera. Towards the twentieth century, with the imminent conflict of World War I (1915-1918), was revised the defensive system in Mestre by creating seven new Strongs: Strong Bazzera north-east at the mouth of the river Dese terminated in 1911; Strong Rossarol north-east, completed in 1907, Strong Pepe north-east, completed in 1909; Strong Cosenz north ended in 1911; Strong Mezzacapo north-west finished in 1911; Strong Sirtori west ended in 1911; Strong Poerio south-west was completed in 1910.
With the end of the war and safeguarding of Venice, the military reduced the importance of the Arsenal in favor of other bases scattered all over Italy and the consequent depreciation of the entrenched camp in Mestre whose structures were converted into barracks and military warehouses until their total maroon to the ‘80s. They were swallowed year after year to dense and lush vegetation. Part of these true historical and natural treasures have been healed and donated to the community with the valuable assistance of the local governments and citizens associations.