Jungfrau and The Top of Europe

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The Jungfrau and the Top of Europe are two strongly connected names. The Swiss Alps are home to some of the most spectacular scenery and natural wonders in Europe. Among them, the Top of Europe mountain range is a unique destination for visitors who want to experience the high alpine wonderland of ice, snow, and rock. The range consists of three famous peaks: Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch, which form a massive wall of mountains overlooking the Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Plateau Schweizer Mittelland.), one of the most distinctive sights of the Swiss Alps.

The Top of Europe is located between the northern canton of Bern and the southern canton of Valais, about 15 km. south of Interlaken (Interlaken). At its foot is the world-famous Wengen ski resort.


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She is the highest peak of the trio, with 4158 m above sea level.Its name means “maiden” or “virgin” in German, reflecting its flawless shape and snow-capped peak. The peak was climbed for the first time on August 3, 1811, by the Swiss brothers Johann Rudolf Meyer and Hieronymus Meyer, together with two hunters from the canton of Valais – Alois Volker and Joseph Bortis), as well as two servants – porters. The ascent is actually a long expedition over the glaciers and high passes of the Bernese Alps.The peak is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau-Aletsch Swiss Alps, which covers an area of 824 km2 and includes the longest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier (Aletschgletscher).



Eiger - the Northeast face
Eiger – the Northeast face

She is the second-highest peak of the trio, with an altitude of 3967 m. His name means Ogre – a mythological human-like creature found in the beliefs of the Northern and Central European peoples, who feeds on people. Eiger is famous for its north face, which rises 1,800m from the valley and is considered one of the most challenging and dangerous climbs in the world. The first successful ascent of the North Face was achieved on July 24, 1938, by a German-Austrian expedition with members Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer, and Fritz Kasparek. Relatively close to the peak can also get by a scenic train ride from Kleine Scheidegg to the Eigerwand station, which is located in a tunnel in the mountain.


She is the third-highest peak of the trio, with an altitude of 4,107 m. Its name means “monk” in German, suggesting its role as a guardian between the Jungfrau and the Eiger. It was climbed for the first time on August 15, 1857, by a group of Swiss mountain guides – Christian Almer, Christian Kaufmann, Ulrich Kaufmann, and Sigismund Porges. The peak has a steep and narrow southeast ridge that offers a challenging climb.

The top of Europe and its sights

The Top of Europe is also home to Europe’s highest railway station, the Jungfraujoch, which offers access to various attractions such as the Sphinx Observatory, the Ice Palace, and the Glacier Platform. The Jungfraujoch Railway is a remarkable piece of engineering that connects the Kleine Scheidegg Pass with Jungfraujoch Station, located in the saddle of the same name between the Jungfrau and Mönch peaks. It is the highest railway line in Switzerland and Europe, climbing for its nine-kilometer length, from an altitude of 2061 m to 3454 m above sea level.

Jungfraujoch Railroad construction
Jungfraujoch Railroad construction around 1900 г.

The railway was built between 1896 and 1912, overcoming many technical and financial challenges. It passes through tunnels carved into the Eiger and Mönch peaks, with two intermediate stops that allow passengers to admire the view of the north face of the Eiger and the Eismeer ( Ice Sea). The railway is operated by the Jungfrau Railway Company, which also maintains other mountain railways in the region. The railway is a popular tourist attraction, carrying over a million passengers a year.

A large complex of tunnels and buildings was built in the Jungfraujoch saddle. There are several restaurants and bars, shops, multimedia exhibitions, a post office and a research station with special accommodation. An elevator allows access to the top of the Sphinx and its observatory, at 3,571 m, the highest observation platform in the area.

The Sphinx Observatory is an astronomical observatory located on the aforementioned rocky peak named after the mythical creature. It is one of the highest observatories in the world, at 3571 m above sea level, and the highest in Europe. It can be reached by an ultra-fast lift that ascends 108m in 25 seconds from the Jungfraujoch station.

The observatory has a publicly accessible observation deck that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers, as well as Germany, Italy, and France on clear days. The observatory also hosts various scientific experiments and instruments, such as a 76 cm telescope, a solar spectrometer, a LIDAR system, and a weather station.

The history of the Sphinx Observatory dates back to the end of the 19th century when scientists began to explore the Jungfraujoch’s potential for astronomical observations. The first temporary observatory was built in 1893 by the Swiss astronomer Alfred Gauthier. In 1912, after the completion of the Jungfraujoch railway, more scientists began working in temporary structures.

Construction of a permanent observatory began in 1931 and was completed in 1937. The observatory is named after the Sphinx rock formation on which it stands. Since then, the observatory has played an important role in various fields of science, such as providing evidence for the existence of charged K-mesons in 1949, studying solar activity and cosmic rays, and monitoring climate change and air pollution. The observatory has also appeared in several films, television shows, and video games as a symbol of scientific activity at the Top of Europe.

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