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Gerlos Alpine Road history

Gerlos pass and Gerlos Alpine Road

The course of history: from alpine pass to popular panoramic road

It has been verified that people already lived on both sides of the Gerlos pass in the Zillertal and Salzachtal more than 3,500 years ago. The mountain pass was presumably crossed back then as well. The significance of the path across Alps increased by leaps and bounds when gold was discovered on the Rohrberg high above Zell am Ziller. Up to the Final Recess of the Imperial Deputation after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Zillertal was part of the Archdiocese of Salzburg, yet the only path to it led across Bavaria and Tyrol. In order to avoid the consequences of the ongoing dispute over mining yields, Salzburg’s archbishops finally wanted to construct an “internal” access route to the gold.
Governor Lechner and Franz Wallack
 Road roller on the Gerlos Alpine Road

The barrow path across the Gerlos pass – the path to gold

Work to extend the 30 km sumpter path from Wald im Pinzgau across the Gerloss pass to Zell am Ziller commenced in 1630. The gold ore was intended to be transported in barrows from the mines on the Rohrberg and Hainzenberg to the furnaces in Mühlbach bei Bramberg and Lend. Within one year, 70 workers had completed the small 3.5 m wide road, which was then quickly destroyed by flooding and landslides. What remained was the “Ronachweg” for pedestrians. Later plans for constructing a railway line across the Gerlos pass or crossing it with a cableway were discarded.

From planning to the ground-breaking ceremony for the modern Gerlos Alpine Road

The motives for constructing the Gerlos Alpine Road where similar to those that led to the construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. The road aimed to give tourism a fresh boost while taking the growing requirements of steadily increasing levels of vehicular traffic into account. Endless discussions on routing, nature protection and the necessity of the planned route as well as World War II led to continuing delays to the start of work. After years of postponement, it finally happened. The plans for constructing the road made in 1949 by Franz Wallack, architect of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, were finally realised when state governor Josef Klaus turned the first sod on 20 July 1960.

A success story: the panoramic road across the Gerlos pass to this day

The Gerlos Alpine Road planned by Franz Wallack encompasses the 12 km from Krimml to the apex, the Pinzgauer Höhe. A total of 558 altitude metres are covered with a maximum incline of 9% and nine turns. This section of the road is known today as the “queen stage” of the mountain road bearing the unmistakable signature of planning genius Franz Wallack. 300 vehicles drove on the opening day of the new panoramic road, 1 December 1962! The road gap between the pass summit and the village of Gerlos was closed two years later in order to construct the Durlassboden reservoir lake.

Visit the Gerlos Alpine Road, the WasserWelten Krimml and the Zillertal Arena ski region! Find out more about the ticket prices for the Gerlos pass now!