When the Liechtensteinklamm had to close at the end of May 2017 after a rockfall, it was unclear in the ensuing weeks, whether or when this popular tourist attraction would be opened again to visitors. Days and weeks passed and the question regarding a speedy reopening of this spectacular natural phenomenom was posed.
But let’s go back to the beginning of the Liechtensteinklamm. Contrary to opinion the spelling of the name with “ie“ is actually correct. For the name-giver of this impressive gorge is not the light (Licht), which of course reflects through the droplets of water. The Prince of Liechtenstein was so impressed by this spectacle he donated a very large sum of money in 1876 to make the gorge accessible to visitors. Thus, thanks to him one of the most important tourist attractions was opened to the public and the Liechtensteinklamm got its sounding name.
And now back to the year 2017: after initial inspection by experts in the aftermath of the rockfall, a plan for re-opening plan was mapped out together with several institutions and Technical Universities. Around a year after closure, the decision-makers were presented with two studies from experts. The existing version including all necessary adaptations was decided upon. In spring of 2019 the construction measures were started plus the safety measures required by the authorities. The goal was, to do a test run for re-opening by autumn 2019 at the latest. This project was meticulously executed by more than 20 companies daily, amid partly unimaginable working conditions. On peak days there were up to 60 workers at work at the same time.
A number of blasting operations for the new tunnel and galleries ensured the propulsion into the hard rock of the gorge. Before, the renovation and renewal of the path constructions could be started, however, a total of over 60 steel safety nets with a total length of 1.1 km had to be painstakingly affixed at neuralgic points. After checking the stability of the fixations, the nets could be then be installed.
A completely new feature is the “HELIX“ staircase. This leads through the new tunnel gallery, firstly 30 metres upwards clinging to the rock to a viewing platform. Afterwards it winds in several curves back down to the original route. Right at the end of the walk at the waterfall, a new, spacious platform has also been created. This too offers new spectacular views and insights into the gorge and the waterfall.
How does it feel, after three years to visit a fully renovated and partly newly constructed Liechtensteinklamm Gorge? From tales from the technicians and council workers involved in the project you can put together a picture in your head. Yet, these cannot be compared with a visit in person. At the start, the walk is the same as before. After the first cross-over the new stretch of tunnel starts. Then you gently climb upwards to the aforementioned new HELIX construction.
(HELIX = in Greek – curved, twisted, coil, cyclindrical spiral or loop, a curve, which constantly rotates upwards).
This new highlight is quite striking forms an extraordinary structure. The views it makes possible are really spectacular. After the staircase, the walk leads back along the original path to the waterfall at the end. There you’ll also find a newly constructed platform.
The Liechtensteinklamm stretches a length of 800 m. You conquer the distance along exactly 444 steps and an elevation gain of 80 m. Once at the imposing waterfall you head back along the same route to the entrance. The new construction makes the walk a little more demanding, but still attractive to the general public.
Fact: The gorge has not lost any of its attractiveness due the reconstruction works – quite the opposite – the building measures give you spectacular insights and a visit is an absolute “must”.
Photo credits: Tourismusinfo St. Johann in Salzburg, Mirja Geh