Grossglockner Road Attractions Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse
The Grossglockner Road (Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse) from Bruck in the Pinzgau to Heiligenblut at the foot of the Grossglockner was constructed between 1930 and 1935, and has been steadily improved and developed since then. It is one of the most magnificent mountain roads in Europe, and although its importance as a north-south route through the Alps has declined since the opening of the Felber-Tauern Road and the Tauern motorway, both are which are open in winter (tunnels), it is still a splendid highway through the Hohe Tauern, Austria's highest mountain massif and one of the country's outstanding attractions.Although this route through the Alps was used by the Romans it was thereafter forgotten for many centuries, and it was only in the 20th C., when the automobile came into its own, that the decision was made to build a panoramic road. Constructed by Fritz Wallack (1887-1966), it runs for 22km/13.5mi through the mountains at an altitude of over 2,000m/6,500ft. A long succession of turns lead up to the summit tunnel on the Hochtor (2,506m/8,222ft) and down into the valley on the far side. The total distance from Bruck to Heiligenblut is 48km/30mi, with a maximum gradient of 12% (1 in 8). A toll road, it is normally open throughout its entire length during the summer months, continuing into October (the period varying according to snow conditions).
From the carpark (Parkplatz II) at the Fuscher Törl on the Grossglockner Road (2,428m/7,966ft) there is a magnificent prospect of the mountains and a view down into the upper Fuscher Tal.
The Grossglockner Road leads under the summit of the pass (the Hochtor) in the Hochtor Tunnel (311m/340yds long) at an altitude of some 2,500m/8,200ft (highest point 2,506m/8,222ft), passing from the province of Salzburg into Carinthia.
Two attractive side roads branch off the main Grossglockner Road to magnificent lookout points. Some 6km/4mi short of the Hochtor tunnel on the northern side, below the Dr-Franz-Rehrl-Haus, the (2km/1.25mi) goes off and climbs, with gradients of 14% (1 in 7), to the parking lot at the Edelweissspitze (2,571m/8,435ft). From the lookout tower at the Edelweiss hut (inn) there is a splendid panoramic view of 37 peaks each over 3,000m/9,800ft.
Some 7km/4.5mi below the Hochtor tunnel on the south side of the Grossglockner Road, at the Posthaus Guttal (1,859m/6,099ft; inn), the Gletscherstrasse (Glacier Road, 9km/5.5mi) branches off to the west. If the weather is good this is a detour which should on no account be omitted. The excellently engineered road runs up, passing a number of parking places and the Margaritze artificial lake below the road (2,000m/6,560ft), to the Freiwandeck (2,369m/7,773ft) on the Franz- Josephs-Höhe (2,422m/7,947ft). From there is one of the grandest views in Europe: immediately opposite towers the Grossglockner (3,797m/12,458ft; nature reserve), Austria's highest peak; to the left, on the Adlersruhe (3,454m/11,333ft), the Erzherzog-Johann-Hütte; further left can be seen the Schwerteck and the Leiterköpfe, to the right the Glocknerwand, the Teufelskamp, the Romariswandkopf, the three rocky peaks of the Burgstall and perpetually snow-capped pyramid of the Johannisberg to the rear. Below the lookout platform, reached by a steep path or by funicular (212m/696ft) stretches the Pasterze, the largest glacier in the Eastern Alps, over 9km/5.5mi long and up to 1.6km/1mi wide (care necessary).
Heiligenblut (1,301m/4,270ft; pop. 1,300) is a popular summer and winter resort, magnificently set on the steep meadow covered slopes of the Möll valley. Its Gothic parish church (15th C.), with a characteristically pointed steeple and an interior also governed by vertical lines, contains a beautiful little tabernacle (1496) with a vial of what is believed to be the blood of Christ brought from Constantinople in 914, a carved high altar of 1520, the center of which depicts the crowning of the Virgin, and a 15th C. fresco of St Christopher. There is a chairlift to the Schareck (2,604m/8,544ft; ski lift to the Glockner Road) and easy climbs to the Kalvarienberg (half an hour), Wirtsbauer-Alm (1.5 hours) and the Leiterfall, a 130m/430ft high waterfall (two hours). There is also ample scope for high Alpine climbs by experienced mountaineers.