CZ/SK verze

Semmering Railway: A UNESCO Heritage Journey Through Austria's Mountains

Semmering Railway: A UNESCO Heritage Journey Through Austria's Mountains
photo: tau280 / Flickr/Mountain railway
26 / 01 / 2024

Austria hides a wealth of beautiful and accessible excursions. One of the attractions not to be missed is the picturesque Semmering in Lower Austria. To fully enjoy all the beauty of nature that this area has to offer, it is best to choose to travel by train.

The Semmering Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, was built by engineer Carl Ritter von Ghega between 1848 and 1854. He was the son of Albanian parents and was born in Venice. He was the chief engineer of the Southern Railway in the mid-19th century.

The construction aimed to create access from the capital of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy directly to the sea. Along the line, the train crosses 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts, and more than a hundred smaller stone and railway bridges. The entire line is double-tracked with left-hand traffic; its greatest inclination is 28 degrees. The line was electrified in 1959.

Constantin Eisenschink / Flickr

The beautiful natural scenery is best seen from the train. After each curve, new scenery emerges, such as rocky sections or spectacular viaducts. The railway from Gloggnitz over the Semmering Pass to Mürzzuschlag was the first mountain railway in Europe to have a standard gauge. Approximately 20 thousand workers worked on its construction, interestingly one-third of them were women.

Thanks to this railway, the Viennese gentry could reach the Alpine region in one hour. Semmering became a popular summer destination for all Viennese with money, status, and grandeur. The gentry would take the train to luxury hotels, spas, and theatres, and also watch the grand promenade directly from the railway line.

Semmering is still a very popular area today, especially for the large ski resort that was built. It is just under 42 kilometers long and remains one of the most used mountain tracks in the country.

Michael Hanisch / Flickr

Since 2012, a 27-kilometer-long Semmering Tunnel has been under construction under the mountain massif and the railway line, which should connect Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag. The opening of the tunnel is expected to take place later this year.