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Ennetbürgen, Switzerland

Hammetschwand Elevator

The tallest outdoor elevator in Europe rockets passengers on a dizzyingly precarious ride to the top of a mountain. 

Straddling the exposed rock face of Switzerland’s Mt. Bürgenstock is the towering Hammetschwand Elevator, the tallest outdoor lift in Europe, which shoots passengers from an underground boarding station into an open-air shaft leading to the top of the mountain in less than a minute. 

The Hammetschwand Lift was put into place to carry visitors over 3,700 foot above sea level to the beautiful vistas of Lake Lucerne. Created in 1905 by a popular hotel destination nearby, the elevator has survived both world wars, the elements, and a wood-to-steel conversion to remain a world-record holding attraction.

Originally the precarious elevator compartment was made of nothing more than wood and sheet metal which would be drawn up the 500 foot shaft, which was constructed of equally questionable materials. At the time, the ride took up to three minutes to complete. Today, after multiple overhauls, the elevator is made of expertly engineered metal and glass, yet somehow looks nonetheless rickety. In addition to the hair-raising heights that the glass-walled elevator reaches, the speed of the lift has also been increased and riders are now shot to the top of the shaft in less than a minute. The station at the top exits unto a bridge that leads to the mountaintop. 

Despite the sense of danger, the quick ride along the mountainside provides one of the most scenic views in all of the Swiss Alps, assuring that people will continue taking this ride for one hundred more years to come.