GOTTHARD PASS, SWITZERLAND 🇨🇭
The probably best-known and most important alpine pass in Switzerland is found between the alpine towns Hospental and Airolo in the Swiss Alps – the Gotthard Pass. Often also referred to as “King of Mountain Passes”.
DRIVING THE GOTTHARD PASS
For decades the Gotthard Pass on up to 2.091m (6,860ft) above the sea level has been the only connection between canton Uri in the North and canton Ticino in the South of the Alps. Entire armies used the passage and during winters hundreds of “shovellers” earned their income keeping the Gotthard Pass open.
Todays moderns transit routes take you trough a 16.9 kilometers long road tunnel opened in 1980 or the 57 kilometers long Gotthard railway tunnel, opened in 1882. Crossing the Gotthard mountain massif via the alpine pass however is still the most scenic and adventurous experience and sometimes the best alternative to avoid traffic before the tunnel.
Better don’t look on a map - the serpentine twists may turn you away from the plan to drive the Gotthard Pass and you would miss out on a very impressive alpine driving adventure. The road is asphalted all the way and can be very exciting. Sometimes even feel a little to exposed. As one of the most vital roads in Europe the Gotthard Pass is safe and its been used my thousand of tourist every year. The pass is busy during the summer holiday season with many vacationist coming for the stunning views. The landscape is mournful and bleak throughout much of this driving adventure, a testimony to the savage climactic conditions that exist at these high altitudes.
HISTORY OF THE GOTTHARD PASS
The romans avoided the Gotthard – the “Schöllenen” Gorge in the North of the mountain was considered impassable. Until in the 13th century a bridge has been built by the local government. The efforts to build the bridge over the narrow gorge and source of the river Reuss have been immense and have born a legend:
In desperation the mayor called out: "Then let the devil build a bridge!" The devil appeared: "I will build you a bridge, but the first to cross it will belong to me." They agreed to the trade. After three days there really was a bridge over the Reuss. On the other side sat the devil, waiting for his reward. But instead of sending a person across, they sent over a goat. "You can have him", they cried. Enraged, the devil took a great stone with which he wanted to destroy the bridge. Moments before a woman had come upon the scene, and knowing the devil's weakness, drew the sign of a cross on the stone so that the devil could no longer lift it.