Since the very beginning of the First World War, when the Italian Army were advancing towards Val Badia along the Road of the Dolomites from Cortina to the Falzarego Pass, the strategic importance of the Cinque Torri area was immediately clear.
Most important of all, was the observatory at 2477 m of height on Mount Nuvolau, dominating Falzarego, Val Cordevole, upper Val Costeana and Val Badia; it was a sort of "window" open onto Col di Lana, Sief, and Settsass.
All the movements of the troops located in this wide zone could be followed from this top.The Italian Army took up positions in the Cinque Torri area at the beginning of June 1915; the troops were arranged in holes excavated beneath the rocky walls or wherever sheltering was possible.
A hard and difficult work started immediately; trenches and emplacements were built and telephone lines and field telegraph, warehouses for food and munitions, shelters for the animals and barns were arranged.
Here were set up the Headquarters of the italian mountain artillery group; gigantic Navy cannons (da marina) were transported here which could shoot shells 30 cm in diameter.
On 23rd May 1915, the Kingdom of Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Italian Army occupied Cortina, thus ending four centuries of Hapsburg Empire rule there.
The Austro-Hungarian troops withdrew onto the Lagazuoi to defend the Badia Valley and Pusteria.
The trenches of the two opposing armies wound along the ridges.
From that moment onwards, the mountains of the Lagazuoi 5 Torri area became the theatre of an incredible war fought at high altitude.
Today, thanks to the collaboration of our erstwhile enemies, the Italian and Austro-Hungarian emplacements on the mountains have been restored.
Out if this arose the most widely extended museum of the Great War, comprising the three open-air museums of the Lagazuoi, the 5 Torri and the Sasso di Stria, and the Museum of the Tre Sassi Fort.
The Great War in the Cinque Torri area left kilometres of trenches, and various machine gun and artillery emplacements. This line of defence was meant to hold back enemy penetration if the front line at the Falzarego Pass was breached by the Austro-Hungarian troops.
Armoured trenches were designed for soldiers on their knees with a covering force capable of resisting fusillades.
The other fundamental function of the covered trenches was to guarantee the protection of observers who followed the events along the front combat line.
Photographers and artists would observe the slightest change along enemy lines, supplying Headquarters with the latest developments in the enemy’s situation.