The "Sacrario Militare di Pocol" war memorial is clearly visible from the centre of Cortina d'Ampezzo below. It stands like a medieval fortress amidst green woods on the top of the hill of Cortina's district of Pocol, overlooking Cortina on the west side.
Pocol can easily be reached along the Great Dolomites Road, which from there leads to the passes Giau and Falzarego.
Located at an altitude of 1,535 meters, this memorial site is worth a visit not only for its historical importance and the works of art that the building contains, but also for the magnificent panorama that it offers.
This memorial was inaugurated in 1939. The construction of the building, according to a project by engineer Giovanni Raimondi, began in 1932 and was completed in 1935.
Its imposing, austere architecture calls for respect and reflection.
The niches arranged along the perimeter walls of the interior corridors contain the remains of the known and unknown soldiers who fought and died during the Great War, in the areas of Som Pouses, Cristallo, 5 Torri, Lagazuoi, Sasso di Stria, Castelletto, Tofana.
The entrance is flanked by stone busts representing the "Guards of the Italian Alpine Hunters". The motif was taken from the marble monument in Cortina's center, dedicated to General Cantore.
On the upper floor there are the tombs of two other heroes who were awarded the gold medal for military valor: Lieutenant Mario Fusetti, hero of the Sasso di Stria, and Captain Baiardi, who also fell as a hero in command of his company at Cima Sief.
On the right side of the same square there is a charming little church, built in 1916 by the 5th Alpine Group as a cemetery church, which was located in the same place as the former one, in the middle of the forest.
The entrance stair is carved into the rock and flanked by the bronze plates of the Way of the Cross by Giannino Castiglioni.
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The small church of Pocol
The Italian soldiers killed in World War 1 were buried on the hill of Pocol. In 1916 the Army Corps of Engineers built a chapel in the middle of the cemetery "Cimitero Aquile delle Tofane". In 1935 the approximately 800 mortal remains were moved to the Military Memorial built nearby, along with many corpses from other war cemeteries. Inside the little church, just above the door, there is a fresco by Pio Solero, depicting the dramatic scene of an Italian Alpine soldier in the snow holding a wake for a fallen comrade.
The church of Vervei
In Vervei, about 3 km from Pocol, towards the Falzarego pass on the Great Dolomites Road, just before the junction to the Dibona Refuge there is a small wooden church. During the First World War the surrounding area was a military base of Italian soldiers who were fighting on the front line Lagazuói and Tofane. This place was the arrival of the long rope-way for the transport of material from Zuèl. And here there was also a small church, dedicated to the Madonna of the Tofane, a simple wooden chapel, which was built by the soldiers seeking spiritual help and comfort during this tragic war. By relying on original photos, Cortina’s Alpini (Alpine soldiers) decided to rebuild it in order to commemorate all the mountain soldiers who fought on this front line.
The open-air museums of the Great War
Not far from Pocol, you can visit the largest museum area of the First World War in the Dolomites. The most extensive museum of the World War 1, consisting of the open-air museums of Mt. Lagazuoi, of the 5 Torri and Sasso di Stria, was created in memory of the tragic war events on the Dolomite front.