The Highest Railway Station in Europe

In August 1893, a Swiss businessman named Adolf Guyer-Zeller made a brave choice: he decided to build a train that would go to the top of the Jungfrau, which is 4,158 meters (13,641 feet) high. Before that, only experienced mountain climbers could reach the third-highest mountain in the Bernese Alps, which is always covered in snow. The first successful climb to the top didn’t happen until 1811, and the railway line was supposed to make it easier for more people to get there.

A feat of strength: The construction of the railway line

It took 16 years to finish the route after the first stone was laid. Guyer-Zeller wanted the line to go all the way to the top, but it only goes as far as the Jungfraujoch, which is 3,454 meters (11,332 feet) high. Its construction is still seen as a masterpiece of engineering, though. As if that wasn’t enough, more than half of the nine-kilometer track is in a tunnel that had to be cut by hand. On August 1, 1912, the Swiss national holiday, the first train finally made it all the way from the mountain pass Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch.

A train ride to the mountain top

For the series “Europe to the Maxx” on the lifestyle and culture magazine “Euromaxx,” DW reporter Hendrik Welling went to the highest train station in Europe. He took the train, which is called the “Jungfraubahn.” Once he got to the top, he not only had a great view of the beautiful Alpine scenery, but he also learned a lot of interesting things about how the line was built more than 100 years ago. The video follows him as he finds things.

Final stop: Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe

The trip takes about 30 minutes, and during that time, the cogwheel train climbs about 1,400 meters. There is an intermediate stop at the Eismeer station to help people get used to the mountain air. From here, people can see the three well-known peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. That’s why, this is the Highest Railway Station in Europe.

The train ends in a tunnel, but when you step out onto the viewing platform, you’ll probably be out of breath, and not just because the air is thin. When the weather is good, you can see a unique view of about 200 alpine peaks, including the snow-covered tops of Jungfrau and Monch, which look like they could be touched. This may have been what made Guyer-Zeller go through with his risky plan more than 125 years ago.

Tips for service:

Address: Jungfraujoch, Bernese Alps, Switzerland

Getting there: By train from Bern via Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg. From here, you can take the Jungfraubahn up to Jungfraujoch.

The train to the top of Jungfraujoch runs every day at 8 a.m. The last trip home changes from season to season.

Special Tip: The ice palace is one of the best things to see on the Jungfraujoch. In the grotto, which is about 1,000 square meters, there are many ice sculptures to look at.

The accompanying book

Europe at its most extreme: The series “Europe to the Maxx” in DW’s lifestyle and culture magazine “Euromaxx” lets you experience Europe’s best of the best, from extraordinary architecture to spectacular landscapes to unique cultural events. In collaboration with Emons Verlag, the book “111 Extreme Places in Europe You Shouldn’t Miss” was made to go with the series. It’s a different kind of travel guide that’s both useful and fun. The book is perfect for people who like to travel a lot, who are interested in Europe, and who like to show off with unusual pub quiz questions. It’s full of things that are sure to break records!

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