JUNGFRAUBAHN - JOURNEY TO THE TOP OF EUROPE.

jungfraubahnOf all the sights in Europe the most glorious must surely be the view from the Jungfraujoch at the terminus of the continent’s highest railway. The iconic Jungfraubahn transports tourists from the village of kleine Scheidegg to the top of Europe in just 50 minutes and in 2012 celebrates its 100th birthday.

Construction

Construction of the railway began in 1896 after industrialist Adolf Geyer-Zeller was granted a concession for a railway to climb the Jungfrau. By 1898 the railway was open as far as the Eigergletscher railway station and in 1903 the railway reached the Eigernordwand station. Here visitors can disembark to peer out of the legendary North Face of the Eiger through viewing windows. In 1905 the railway had reached the final stop before the summit, Eismeer, where there are wonderful glacial views through panoramic windows. The construction was finally completed in 1912 with the Jungfrau station being inaugurated on August 1st. Sadly Geyer-Zeller did not live to see the completion of his spectacular railway. He died in 1899 with the responsibility for the project passing to his sons.

Tourism

Every year up to 700,000 guests travel from the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen valleys to Kleine Scheidegg to begin their 9km trip on the Jungfraubahn. Kleine Scheidegg, which means small saddle, affords wonderful views of the North Face of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains and an opportunity to take in some refreshments before boarding the train to the Jungfraujoch. Most of the journey to the top is in the darkness of the tunnel with two 5 minute stops to enjoy the views from the Eigernordwand and Eismeer observation windows. On reaching the terminus at 3454 metres visitors can ascend to the viewing platforms at the Sphinx (3571 m) and are greeted by the most amazing views across the valleys as far as France and Germany. Guests can then step out onto the Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest, to experience the enormity of this river of ice. During the summer months it is also possible to ride inflatable tubes on the glacier and meet Husky dogs before experiencing the indoor attractions.

Inside the Jungfrau

Having marvelled at the wonderful vistas outside guests can enjoy lunch in the cafeteria or Crystal Restaurant before experiencing the Ice Palace, caverns carved into the glacier containing stunning ice sculptures. The Jungfraujoch also hosts Europe’s highest post office where visitors can send their postcards from the top of Europe before descending to the valleys below.

Birthday

2012 has seen the railway’s 100th Birthday coinciding with Swiss National Day on August 1st. Two countdown clocks supplied by the railway’s new partner, Tissot Watches, marked time until the official celebrations which included a path of flares along the route of the railway. The engineering marvel that is the Jungfraubahn looks set to carry lucky tourists to Europe’s highest railway station for many years to come.

Must See

For anyone visiting central Switzerland a trip to the Jungfraujoch is an absolute must to marvel at the brilliance of the construction, the efficiency of the service and the unparalleled views. For 100 years this glorious railway has safely transported millions of travellers to the very summit of a continent.

Attached Images:

Sally S writes on a wide range of subjects for many blogs including technology, music, travel and general interest. A particular fan of mountains and the Jungfrau, Sally likes to travel as much as possible.