1912: Initial plans for the constuction of an Alpine Road

Enthusiasm for mountains, nature and therefore for the Alps too, grew in the 19th century. The formation of mountain guide associations, the construction of Alpine huts and the search for ever more daring routes in Austria’s mountains spurred on natural scientists and Alpinists. Closely followed by holiday-makers who were keen on mountains, associating romance and originality with the Alps. It is therefore little wonder that the first plans to develop the Dobratsch occurred at precisely this time. However it was not a road that was thought of initially, but a railway, swiftly followed by the concept of a steel suspension railway. When the car became ever more popular, in 1912 the plan to construct the Villach Alpine Road was developed. That said, it was to take another few decades until the first sod was cut ...  

Historical picture of the construction of the Villach Alpine Road with machines and untravelled road | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at/Archiv

A construction project with highs and lows

In the years that followed, plans for the construction of a road up to the Dobratsch were revisited again and again – but were ruled out time and again too. Other Alpine road projects were preferred, and the two World Wars ensured that plans were shelved. It was only after the Second World War that the idea of the Dobratsch road was taken up again. Franz Wallack, the planner and constructor of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road was the one who campaigned for the construction of the Carinthian high Alpine road. Although the Carinthian parliament approved the project in 1953, breaking ground for the construction of the Villach Alpine Road only happened on 3rd June 1961. The principal motive – it was hoped that a mountain road would provide additional income!   

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

The rocky path to developing a road to the Dobratsch

Even with all this enthusiasm, especially from Franz Wallack, building a mountain road into the limestone of the Dobratsch presented an enormous technical challenge. Large road building machinery could not be used – it needed to be drilled by hand and blasted. More than 100 workers waded their way through the jagged rocks, until, on 12th December 1964, the ‘showpiece of road construction art’ was able to be unofficially opened to traffic!

Figures, details & facts about the construction of Villach Alpine Road

Workers building the Villach Alpine Road | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at/Archiv
300,000 m³ of stone & rock

were cleared in the construction of the Villach Alpine Road 

Historical photo of the construction of the Villach Alpine Road | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at/Archiv
135 tonnes of explosives

were used in the construction of the panorama road. 

Historical picture of the road from the early years | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at/Archiv
16.5 km in length & 6 m wide

was the road up to the Dobratsch when it opened.

Opening of the Villach Alpine Road | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at
Only decades

after the first idea for a road came about, was a road actually constructed up to Villach’s local mountain. 

Opening of the Villach Alpine Road | © villacher-alpenstrasse.at

On 17th July 1965

Federal President Franz Jonas opened the Villach Alpine Road.

Would you like to learn about and drive the historic Villach Alpine Road for yourself? Get information now about the prices & opening hours of this top Carinthian sight! 

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