Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of home & place

Posts tagged ‘Zillertal Alps’

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 )

Vals, Brennerbahn, S-Bahn Tirol, St. Jodok am Brenner, Brenner Pass, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in the Alps: St. Jodok am Brenner

On board the S-Bahn Tirol S4 train south to Brenner, I’m bouncing from one side of the car to the other; the valley views open up one instant and another set of views open up on the opposite side. Just after departing St. Jodok, the track makes a tight turn in the small Wipptal valley. In doing so, the train slows down, and I luck out with this west-facing view; I can make out the town’s distinctive Pfarrkirche zum heiligen Jodok Catholic parish church (1427) and in the background mountains Kesselspitze (2720 metres) and Serles (2717 metres).

I made the photo above on 14 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/250-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glp.

Vals, Brennerbahn, S-Bahn Tirol, St. Jodok am Brenner, Brenner Pass, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: S-Bahn Tirol from Innsbruck to Brennero

I’m on board a S4 S-Bahn Tirol train from Innsbruck southbound to Brennero in Italy. I took this picture as the train departed St. Jodok station and rounded the “bend” in the valley. The train is on a gradual ascent, the valley narrows, and the mountains grow taller. The landscape seems to expand, even as hamlets and houses dotting the valley floor look tiny. That’s the unfolding present as the train crosses the border from Austria into Italy, and we pull slowly into the train station at Brennero for S4’s final stop.

I made the picture above on 14 May 2018 with an Fujifilm X70 mirrorless fixed-prime and the following settings: 1/250-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-d00.


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

My Tirol: day trips 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 )

Zugspitze: can I see Italy from here?

“If I’m at the highest point in Germany, can I see Italy?”

Over the years, I’ve seen at various times the claim made about seeing Italy from the tallest mountain in Germany.

I’m startled by morning sun, streaming through the window into my hotel room in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I rise slowly from the bed, barely able to keep my eyes open. I shuffle across the room, and pull the small linen drapes aside. It’s blue everywhere, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. My eyes are now wide open, heart pumping with excitement, because I know skies are gonna be clear up top. Later I learn forecast conditions for the Zugspitze summit are excellent: mostly sunny, visibility out to 160 kilometres (100 miles) with a high temperature of -8C/+18F. It’s why I have with me 70-300 glass to find out for myself how true the claim really is.

Below I show photographs with sightlines and their corresponding average azimuths*: east-southeast (107 degrees), southeast (138 degrees), south (175 degrees), southwest (210 degrees), west-southwest (250 degrees). I label specific mountain peaks of interest in addition to the flag of the country where the mountain is located. In a few cases, mountains lie along the border between two nations in which case I provide two country flags. For the labeled peaks, I’ve also provided further information about mountain heights and sightline distances in the map below.


( Click here for images and more )

%d bloggers like this: