With the opening of the railway tunnel in 1882, the Gotthard axis became the shortest north-south transit route in Europe. In the same year Italy signed a pact, known under the name “Triplice”, with the Germanic Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This agreement, clearly militarily directed against France, in a Europe of nations still young, is likely to bring back the war in Switzerland, as in 1798-99 with the Suvorov army’s passage in Ticino. The Confederation therefore decided to fortify the southern portal of the Gotthard tunnel.
The tunnel could become an important axis of communication and transport between Italy and Germany in the event of an attack by France. In addition, railway was vital to move federal troops to the south whether Italy tried to annex Ticino.
After many discussions and projects, the construction of the fort began in 1886.
Construction work with several hundred workers continued until 1890 but already in 1889 the first training courses for fortress troops took place. The Fort Airolo active in the first and second world war remained until 1946 the cradle of these troops. The main tower, armed with two 12cm caliber cannons, fired more than 30,000 shots during training periods!
Fort Airolo is still used as a cantonment by the recruit school stationed in Airolo.