Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

The Sphinx Observatory in the Swiss Alps is the highest man-made structure in Europe

David Goran

The Sphinx Observatory is an astronomical observatory located above the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland. It is named after the Sphinx, the rocky summit on which it is located. At an astonishing 3, 571 meters above sea level, the observatory is the highest altitude man-made structure in Europe.

The Sphinx Observatory is also called -Top of europe. Alistair Cunningham, CC BY 3.0

The Sphinx Observatory is also called the “Top of Europe”. Image by: Alistair Cunningham/CC BY 3.0

 

The observatory is built on a steep cliff. Paul Gover.Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The observatory is built on a steep cliff. Image by: Paul Gover/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

After completion of the Jungfraujoch railway in 1912, scientists occupied the high, harsh location in temporary structures. Construction of the building began in 1937. The observatory provides unique conditions for successful research in various disciplines such as meteorology, astronomy, glaciology, physiology, radiation, and cosmic rays.

The classic structure is rwached via the worls highest railway, followed by a tunnel. Kevin Poh.Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The classic structure is reached via the world’s highest railway, followed by a tunnel. Image by: Kevin Poh/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It includes four laboratories, a pavilion for cosmic ray research, a library, a mechanical workshop, a living room, a kitchen, ten bedrooms, and the living quarters of the custodians. In the scientific area, there are two large laboratories, a workshop, a weather observation station, two terraces for scientific experiments, and an astronomical and meteorological cupola.

The observatory is fully outfitted with electricity, water, tlephone, internet. Jackph-Own work, Public Domain

The observatory is fully outfitted with electricity, water, telephone, and internet. Image by: Jackph-Own work/Public Domain

The astronomical cupola is equipped with a 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus and is part of the solar spectrometer of the Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics of the University of Liège, Belgium. Many long-term experiments are permanently installed in the Sphinx laboratories.

It is the 14th highest observatory in the world. Pmau-Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

It is the 14th highest observatory in the world. Image by: Pmau-Own work/CC BY-SA 4.0

 

The observatory can be seen in the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. Maksym Kozlenko-Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The observatory can be seen in the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. Image by: Maksym Kozlenko-Own work/CC BY-SA 4.0

The exterior decks and glass house are accessible by visitors eager to experience the history and beauty of the highly unique location. The location offers views of the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger peaks, all within a few kilometers.

The observation deck open to public. Julius Silver-Julius Silver-Own work, CC BY 4.0, Roland Zumbuhl-Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The observation deck open to the public. Images by: Julius Silver-Julius Silver-Own work/CC BY 4.0, Roland Zumbuhl-Own work/CC BY-SA 3.0

The mountain top has been tunneled to fit an elevator that leads to the observatory from the Jungfraujoch train station.

For the tourists there is a metal-grate terrace surrounding the building on all sides that provides a stunning 360 degree view of the Great Aletsah Glacier. ZachT-Own work, Public Domain

For the tourists, there is a metal grate terrace surrounding the building on all sides that provides a stunning 360-degree view of the Great Aletsah Glacier. Image by: ZachT-Own work/Public Domain

The inside of the observatory can be seen at the Eispalast (Ice Palace), a large cave hewn 200 meters into the glacier. It is adorned with ice sculptures depicting animals and figures from all over the world.