Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Via Imperii’

My Tirol: Brenner Pass

After a mid-May morning in the Alpbach alpine valley, I spent the afternoon on rail to Brenner via Innsbruck, with both legs of the Innsbruck-Brenner stretch on the S-Bahn Tirol S4 train. I used my Eurail Pass the entire day.

Squeezed between the Stubai- and Zillertal-Alps in the Wipptal (Wipp valley), Brenner Pass stands at an elevation of 1370 metres (4495 feet) above sea level and is one of the lowest mountain passes in the Alps. The low mountain pass meant that humans have known about, climbed, and traversed this area for thousands of years. It’s also why the Romans incorporated this pass from the 2nd century AD/CE as a part of a critical north-south trade and security link between the heart of the empire to the south and the frontier provinces to the north.

By the Middle Ages, the pass was a part of the Holy Roman Empire on the “Via Imperii”; this imperial road stretched from Rome to Stettin via Florenz, Verona, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Nürnburg, Leipzig, and Cölln (Berlin). In the mid 15th-century, most long-distance trade between Augsburg and Venice was transported through Brenner Pass; by the early 16th-century, a north-south postal route was founded.

Empress Maria Theresa of the Habsburg Empire ordered in 1777 an upgrade and development of the road through the pass to mitigate the dangers of summer landslides and winter avalanches on the important trade route. Recognizing good timing and an opportunity, German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe travelled through Italy between 1786 and 1788, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Goethe would have started from Munich and travelled on the road for two days with a stop in Innsbruck before entering Italy. From his notes, he published in 1816 “Italian Journey” which became a best-selling book of its time and paved the way for Germans to satisfy their romantic dreams by travelling to Italy. The Brenner Railway line was inaugurated in 1867, heralding a faster connection between Innsbruck and Bolzano and the first rail line through the Alps. Construction of the 38-kilometre Brenner Autobahn between Innsbruck and Brenner Pass began in 1959 and by April 1971, drivers got to experience the full width of a speedy highway, now known as the A13 in Austria and E45 in Europe.

From its origins, the road today is a vital link between northern and southern Europe, providing trade shipments by truck and rail transports. Concern about environmental impact by record numbers of trucks (about 2 million every year#) is also why the European Union initiated construction of the Brenner Base Tunnel to divert more freight onto rail and further cut rail journey times between Austria and Italy by about an hour.

It’s difficult to imagine a time in the recent past where this border was heavily guarded and all traffic was stopped and checked, with stories of smugglers secretly climbing over the border mountains in the dark and stories of death from exposure and misadventure. With Austria’s formal acceptance of the Schengen Agreement and entry into the Schengen Area, all border controls here were abolished on 1 April 1998.

Separate European nations with unguarded borders was once thought impossible. It’s a modern idea that cannot be underestimated and for which I’m thankful: I arrived by plane in Frankfurt, Germany where I entered the European Union. Because Germany, Austria, and Italy are within the Schengen area, I was able to travel freely among these nations. From Stazione Brennero, I walked out into town and across the border from Italy to Austria and back again, without checks or controls.

# 2 million trucks per year, 5500 per day, or about 230 per hour. Delivering goods is an important economic engine, but that’s a lot of trucks, noise, and exhaust.


( Click here for images and more )

Augsburg: Fugger, Luther, & water in Germany’s 3rd oldest city

Above/featured: Facing north on Maximilianstrasse: Steigenberger Hotel Drei Mohren (left), Fuggerhäuser (orange) – HL, 12 Mar 2017.

Why Augsburg?

  • Fugger family legacy
  • Martin Luther and the Reformation legacy
  • Water supply management, newly inscribed World Heritage Site

I had come to Augsburg to find and understand traces Martin Luther left behind in the city. What I learned was the extent of the lasting legacy provided by the Fugger family, and how the city has for centuries provided safe clean water to her citizens, and how that water management system has become world-renowned as a piece of cultural heritage, forming the basis of an application for recognition as a World Heritage Site.

( Click here for images and more )

Hafelekar, Nordkette, Nordkette cable car, Nordkettenbahn, Hungerburg funicular, Hungerburgbahn, Innsbruck, Tirol, Tyrol, Oesterreich, Austria, fotoeins.com

Tirol Tour: short jumps from Innsbruck

As one of nine states within the federal republic of Austria, Tirol is well known not only for all-season access to the Alps, but also for a variety of other attractions.

With transport authorities IVB Innsbruck, VVT Tirol, and ÖBB Austria, Tirol state capital Innsbruck was the base from which I travelled to Alpbach (half-day), Brenner (half-day), Hall in Tirol (half-day), Nordkette (half-day), Scharnitz (half-day), Stubaital (half-day), and Wilder Kaiser (full day).


( Click here for more )

Am Quicken, Klais, Krün, Mittenwald, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Am Quicken im Schnee (Mittenwald)

The town of Klais has over one thousand years of history. That’s not obvious looking out from the train passing through between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald. But within easy reach on foot are the ruins of the Scharnitz monastery, the remnant of a Roman road, and open fields with views like the one above to Wettersteinspitzen.

(The approach on foot in winter is possible on groomed paths from Mittenwald or from Klais itself.)

I made the picture above on 1 March 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/800-sec, f/20, ISO1000, 47mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-aMa.

Fasching, Maschkera, Oimrausch: pre-Lent shenanigans in southern Germany

This ain’t no Hallowe’en1.

This is Fasching and Maschkera in southern Germany. It’s also about about distinctions and differences by comparison with Karneval on the Rhein.

Festivities take place before Catholic Lent, and the key idea behind the wild colourful costumes and wooden masks is the very pagan origin and ritual of driving out or driving away evil spirits of winter lurking inside people and their homes and welcoming the friendly spirits of spring for a productive growing season.

( Click here for images and more )

%d bloggers like this: