Bringing to life the best of Swiss Railways
06/07/2020 · By Katie Shaw
If you're looking for the perfect destination for a scenic rail escape, few places tick the box quite as well as Switzerland.Read more
Welcome to 'the Top of Europe'. The Jungfraujoch, a ridge between the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains at an elevation of almost three and a half thousand metres above sea level, is home to highest railway station in Europe. And the journey into the Bernese Alps in south-central Switzerland to reach this unique destination, a UNESCO natural 'World Heritage Site of the Swiss Alps', is truly unforgettable.
Whist a pass traversing the mountains here is believed to have existed for five or six centuries, glacial movement in the region buried it and no trace of this original route now exists. It was not until 1862 that another serious attempt at reaching the Jungfraujoch was made. Three decades later the Swiss entrepreneur and railway-builder Adolf Guyer-Zeller began construction of the nine-kilometre Jungfraubahnline from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch Station, which required the construction of a single tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch mountains.
Jungfraujoch's remarkable railway was inaugurated in August 1912. Now an unmissable attraction in the Bernese Oberland region, since 1997 more than five hundred thousand visitors take the opportunity each year to ascend into a vast and tranquil panorama of glittering mountain peaks and unending snow and ice.
The largest glacier in the Alps, and the longest ice river in Europe, the ancient and beautiful Aletsch Glacier stretches for around twenty-three kilometres. Part of the protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, guided walking tours are of the glacier are offered for those who wish to explore the flora, fauna and natural wonder of this stunning landscape.
Jungfraujoch's Eispalastis quite possibly the highest ice palace in the world. Carved into the glacier, the ice palace's large, vaulted chambers contain intricate ice sculptures of various themes including animals, birds, vehicles and people as well as a bar area which, including furniture, is also entirely sculpted from ice. Entry to the Eispalast is free for Jungfraubahn ticket holders.
Whist the Sphinx Observatory research facility, which conducts research in the fields of astronomy, meteorology and air quality, is not open to the public the superb observation terrace that entirely surrounds the building is, allowing visitors to obtain breath-taking 360 degree views of this mountainous winter wonderland.