How It Works

Europe’s highest lift explained

The Hammetschwand Lift in Lucerne, Switzerland, can carry its passengers to a total 1,132 metres (3,712 feet) above sea level, making it Europe’s highest outdoor elevator.

The lift itself is constructed from steel and sports a filigrain, metal lattice truss tower structure, which is positioned on top of a 44-metre (144-foot) rock spit. The tower spans two square metres (6.6 square feet) at all points from the base up until the tapered roof and carries the internal aluminium and steel central cabin.

The cabin of the elevator is entered from within the Bürgenstock Mountain, which is also where its generator engine room is located, and can carry a maximum of eight passengers per trip. The cabin moves entirely vertically during its journey at a constant speed of 2.7 metres (8.9 feet) per second, a speed that enables it to make the 152-metre (499-foot) run in approximately 50 seconds.

The top of the tower is braced against the mountain plateau by a latticed steel walkway that, when the cabin has reached its highest point, allows passengers to venture out over the steep drop to enjoy the views of Lake Lucerne.

Interestingly, when the Hammetschwand Lift was originally opened in 1905, it featured a wooden cabin, which unlike its modern counterpart, could only elevate at approximately one metre (3.3 feet) per second. The refit, which took place in 1935, replaced the drive engine as well as the cab, leading it to become Europe’s fastest external lift for decades, but today it can only claim to be the highest.