Winding its way up through man-made tunnels cut through sheer rock and ice to an elevation of 3454 meters above sea level, the Jungfrau railway is a true modern marvel. Industrialist Adolf Guyer-Zeller’s vision of a cogwheel railway that would transport people to a mystical world of ice and snow waiting for them atop the Swiss Alps first started construction in 1896 and was not completed until 1912, 9 years behind schedule. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the railway and Jungfraujoch station, the crown jewel of the Jungfrau railway, as well as the end of a treacherous journey to the top of the Bernese Alps. The railway’s campaign was plagued by blasting accidents, strikes and financial troubles, but as a result of the courage and fortitude of the workers and visionaries behind the railway, today passengers have the opportunity to journey to Jungfraujoch station, Europe’s highest altitude train station.
On the journey up passengers experience the thrill of traversing through tunnels blasted through the rock of the Eiger and Monch and have the opportunity to experience the views from two intermediate stops at the Eigerwand (the wall of Eiger) and Eismeer (the sea of ice). Once they’ve reached the summit, spectators can take in stunning views from a number of vantage terraces from which, on a clear day, they are able to see beyond the Swiss border into the Vosges mountains of France and Germany’s Black Forest. But the views from Jungfraujoch station are just the half of it, the station is also the home of a variety of top-notch restaurants ranging from Indian to traditional Swiss fare. There is nowhere else on earth you can sit down and enjoy a meal as you peer out and watch mysterious warm mists roll through a barren world of ice and snow.
Another marvel atop this winter wonderland is the world-renowned Ice Palace, which Jungfrau passengers receive free entry to. The Palace’s vaulted rooms are carved out of sheer ice and house an impressive collection of handmade ice sculptures ranging from birds and other animals to automobiles.
Anyone vacationing in Interlaken and looking for a truly unique experience needs to do themselves a favor and take a trip up the Jungfrau railway to experience the stunning views, culture and beautiful desolation waiting for them at the top of Europe.