The Habsburg fortress close to the village of Fortezza/Franzensfeste is an imposing bulwark covering a surface area of 1 km² and consisting of three distinct parts.
It took 4,500 workers five years to build and was completed in 1838. It occupies a strategic position on one of the most important trans-alpine routes and served the purpose of defending the heart of the Habsburg Empire from invasions from the south. It was capable of accommodating a garrison of 1,200 soldiers. However, with the advent of modern weapons it soon became obsolete and from 1890 was used as an arsenal. Today it is a venue for exhibitions and events. The fort and its underground tunnels which connect the lower and upper parts of the fort, its gold bunker and weapons store can be visited.
During World War Two it was used to hoard Nazi gold and treasure hunters still search for forgotten gold bars.