The most complete information about the Alpine Mountains, elevation, where to find it, geographical location and nature, age and other interesting nuances.
The Alpine Mountains are one of Europe’s premier resorts. Every year it attracts not only fans of skiing, but also those who want to enjoy the clean air and healing water from the local thermal springs. The eight European countries with alpine ranges and massifs have been competing for decades in creating attractive conditions for tourists. How to make a program for a visit to the Alpine mountains, to see all the most interesting things during a short vacation?
Covered with snow and surrounded by fog, the peaks of the Alpine mountains gave the mountain range its name. It is believed that it comes from the Latin word “albus” (“white”).
The age of the Alpine mountains is impossible to determine unequivocally. Between 34 and 23 million years ago, the tectonic plates collided, creating the longest mountain range in Europe. The length of the Alps is 1,200 kilometers.
For much of their history, the Alps were an insurmountable natural barrier. They have hindered the movement of trade and military expeditions. The locals avoided climbing to higher altitudes because they could encounter snow avalanches, storms and cold.
The study of the Alpine mountains did not begin until the second half of the 18th century. Enthusiastic scientists explored the flora, fauna, glaciers and geology of the mountain range. Then was born the concept of “mountain climbing”, which at the time meant walking on the slopes without special equipment. In 1786 the highest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, was conquered for the first time.
The history of the Alps as a tourist center dates back to the 19th century. At that time, wealthy people came to the mountain hotels to enjoy the extraordinary views and to take baths in the waters of thermal springs. At the end of the 19th century the winter sports began to gain popularity. The Alpine mountains were host to championships in figure skating and skiing.
The Alpine mountains were the site of the first Winter Olympics and are still the most popular. Developed infrastructure, suitable weather conditions and the availability of modern sports facilities have provided resorts located in the Alps, the right to host the Winter Olympics a dozen times.
Today the mountain range is one of the world’s major tourist centers. Each year, more than a hundred million people visit local resorts. The nature of the Alpine mountains attracts not only lovers of extreme sports. The fresh air, the medicinal properties of the springs and the unique local culture provide a continuous flow of tourists during all seasons.
The sights of the Alps
Most tourists go to the Alps to admire the unique views, to try their hand at the downhill and to swim in the local springs. But the Alpine region is a place where several European cultures meet. There are interesting sites of architectural, historical and religious value.
- The historic Salzburg, located at the foot of the mountains, will impress visitors to Austria with its architecture and atmosphere.
- The Hohensalzburg fortress, built at a height of 120 m, is the largest surviving defense structure in Europe.
- The huge basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a unique building for its time, erected at the foot of the hill.
There are no major airports in the immediate vicinity of the Alpine mountains. Air carriers sometimes arrange flights to Bolzano (Italy) and Innsbruck (Austria), but these connections are seasonal. Most tourists prefer to book a ticket to one of the nearest major airports, and travel the rest of the way by bus or train.
The easiest way to reach the Alpine mountains is from international airports located in the following cities:
The most convenient routes for Russian tourists pass through Munich and Milan airports. They are connected by regular flights to major cities in Russia. Depending on the remoteness of the chosen alpine resort, the trip from the airport may take from 1 to 2 hours.
The way from Munich to the popular ski areas can be overcome by road: the city is connected with the Alps by three modern autobahns. From Munich airport to the mountains is convenient to get suburban train line S-Banh. You can get there in about 40 minutes.
If you decide to visit the western part of the Alps, your route will lie through Milan or Verona airports. Milan is well connected to Russian cities, but you still have to get to the Alps via Verona. If you can not find a direct flight to Romeo and Juliet, do not worry: the way from Milan will be comfortable. From both international airports of the Italian fashion capital there are direct buses to Milan Central Station, where you can buy a ticket to Verona.
The way from Verona to the alpine resorts can be done by car, which takes about two hours, or by train. The trains run from 5 am to 10 pm, leaving the platform every half hour. Tickets cost from 10 euros and you have to spend another 1.5-2 hours on the road.
The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain system in Europe, stretching for 1200 kilometers through eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia and Switzerland. Although the Caucasus Mountains are higher and the Ural Mountains are longer, they are partly in Asia and therefore not included in the comparison to the Alps within Europe.
The climate of the mountains is strongly influenced by their height and size. This difference is most clearly seen in nature, so ibex, that is goat, lives at an altitude of about 3,400 meters, and the plant Edelweiss grows in the high rocky areas. Man has inhabited the Alps since the Paleolithic era.
The history and culture of the region
Supposedly the earliest traces of human presence in the Alps were found on the Austro-Italian border in 1991. The remains of a mummified man were found lying in the mountains for about 5,000 years. In the 6th century B.C. the Celts settled the mountains, establishing the first settlements that have survived to this day. The Romans also left their mark, whose buildings can still be seen in today’s towns in the Alps. The mountains became popular at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, when a flood of writers and artists poured into the Alps, and this is also considered the golden age of mountaineering, when mountaineers from all over Europe began to actively conquer the peaks.
The Alpine region has a distinctive culture. Traditional farming, cheese-making and woodworking still exist in the local villages. Tourism began to actively develop in the early 20th century, and now the mountains are visited by more than 120 million tourists a year. Also in the Alps held the largest number of Winter Olympics, at different times hosted by: Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria and Germany.
The word Alps comes from the Latin, Moor Servius Honoratus, Virgil’s ancient commentator, wrote that all the high mountains were called Alps by the Celts. This is the most probable theory of the origin of the name. Although there are many others, such as: Sextus Pompey Festus in his first book testifies that the name comes from Albus (white), and refers to the eternal snows on the mountain tops.
From space and on high-scale maps, the Alps resemble the shape of a crescent. With an uneven width, ranging from 800 kilometers in the east to 200 in the west. The average height of the mountain peaks is 2.5 kilometers. The alpine system stretches from the Mediterranean Sea in the southwest to the north of the French Po River basin, and descends in an easterly direction, passing next to the Adriatic Sea. The countries with the largest alpine territories are Switzerland in the center and north, France with most of the western part, Austria with the eastern extremity, and Italy with the entire southern side of the alpine crescent.
Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc in French) is a mountain located in the region of the northwestern Alps. It has 4,810.90 m in height (the last official measure in September 2009) is the highest mountain in the Alps, Italy, France and Central Europe as a whole. On its peaks are numerous glaciers.
The roads in the Alps have been paved by wars, traders, pilgrims and tourists. The depressions in the mountain areas with the most convenient passage are called passes, the most famous alpine passes are: Col de Ile-Seran, Brenner, Col de Tende, Mont-Senis, Great Saint-Bernard Pass, Gotthard Pass, Semmiringa and the Stelvio Pass.
The Alps on the map
The Alps are an important source of minerals, which have been mined here for thousands of years. The Romans later found gold from which it was mined for coins, and with the development of industry, the Alps were producing iron ore for the steel industry. Other minerals are also found in this vast mountainous region, the most common being cinnabar, amethyst and quartz. Alpine crystals have been studied and collected for hundreds of years; they began to be qualified in the 18th century. And by the 20th, a special commission was created to control and standardize the names of alpine minerals.
The Alps are an important climate divide for Europe. To the north and west relative to the mountains are areas with a temperate climate, to the south there are subtropical Mediterranean landscapes. Rainfall on the windward western and northwestern slopes is 1,500 – 2,000 mm, in some places up to 4,000 mm per year. The Alpine mountains are characterized by a typical highland climate. With increasing altitude the temperature decreases. At the 3,000-meter mark and above, the temperature does not exceed zero degrees Celsius, which contributes to the formation of glaciers there. The Alps have the headwaters of the major rivers (Rhine, Rhone, Po, Adige, the right tributaries of the Danube), as well as numerous lakes of glacial and tectonic-glacial origin (Lake Constance, Lake Geneva, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, etc).
As of 2001, the total population in the Alps was 12 million people, most of whom were French, Germans and Italians. The Slovenes are also a sizeable community. The largest cities in the Alps: Grenoble in France with 155,100 inhabitants, Innsbruck in Austria with 127,000, Trento in Italy with 116,893 and Bolzano in Italy with 98,100.
Geology and Hydrology
The Alps are part of an orogenic Tertiary belt called the Alpine-Himalayan chain, which extends almost continuously from the southwest to Asia, formed by the collision between the African and European plates.
From the Alps begin the most important European rivers, such as the Po with its tributaries, the Rhine, the Rhone, the Adige, the Brenta, the Piave, the Tagliamento, etc. Also on the slopes of the Alps are numerous lakes fed by the mountains, such as Lake Geneva, Lake Constance, Lake Lugano, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo, Lake Garda and many others. The Alps are also a freshwater reservoir with numerous glaciers.
The best way to travel to the Alps is to start from east to west, the most popular tourist option, where you can see different areas of the mountains and drive completely through Europe’s most picturesque region.
The easternmost point of the massif is near Vienna, where there are international airports with regular flights from Moscow. From the airport in Vienna, there are regular public transportation services connecting the capital with other cities and popular tourist destinations.
Tourism in the Alps has long been well developed. Back in the 18th century, prominent people went to the mountains to rest in resorts “for all. Now the situation has changed, and do not necessarily have impressive wealth to rest in the Alpine resorts.
The choice of places to stay is wide – it’s a small cheap hotels near the lake in the mountains, and middle-class resorts at major ski resorts and premium hotels in the Swiss Alps with its own slopes and resorts.