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|Bundesland: Niederösterreich||Lower Austria|
The municipality of Semmering is situated at an elevation of 950 m just below the Semmering pass (984 m). The first path across the Semmering connecting Lower Austria and Styria was laid out in the 12th century under Margrave Otakar III of Styria. At that time, the Pitten county had just become part of Styria in 1158 (today it is part of Lower Austria). The first road across the Semmering was built under Emperor Karl VI in 1728 and was extended and improved under Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. Since 1956/58, a new route was built.
The parish church Heilige Familie (Holy Family) [left]
was built in 18941895 by the architect Gustav von Neumann in Neogothic style. Originally it was a filial church of the parish
of Maria Schutz. In 1934 it obtained the rank of a parish church.
The Semmering region is well-known for its famous railway line, built by the engineer Carl Ritter von Ghega (18021860) between 1848 and 1854. The Semmering railway line (41 km) is part of the Südbahn railway (18391857) from Vienna via Graz, Maribor and Ljubljana to Trieste. Ghega's plan was daring at that time. The line was laid out as a pure adhesion railway with a maximum gradient of 1 in 40 (25 m over a distance of 1,000 m); previous railways had a maximum gradient of only 1 in 200. Carried by 16 viaducts that are supported by several arches, the Semmering railway crosses gorges, runs through 15 tunnels and reaches its highest point at 897 metres in the main tunnel (1,430 m long, then considered the most famous building of its kind). In 1851, Ghega was promoted to the nobility (Ritter, Knight). The Semmering railway was listed as a World Cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 1998 (see also list of other UNESCO heritage sites).
Semmering became well-known as a climatic resort at the end of the 19th century. Many fashionable hotels were built at that time. The Grand Hotel Erzherzog Johann [left], situated at the highest point of the pass, was built by the famous architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer in 1898/99 and replaced an earlier inn of the same name. It has been replaced by a modern building in the 20th century.
(See also list of further buildings by Fellner and Helmer that are depicted on glasses of this collection.)
The Hotel Panhans [right] is probably the best-known of all traditional hotels in Semmering. The hotel was founded in 1888 and was transformed to a Grand Hotel in 1913 by the architects Ferdinand Felner and Hermann Helmer. With 400 rooms it was one of the largest hotels in Europe at that time. After the end of World War I and the break-up of the Austrian Empire, the hotel had to be sold off. It took until the 1930s that the hotel could regain its former position among the leading hotels in Europe. The great popularity ended after World War II. Finally, in 1969, the hotel had to close. In 1978, a joint venture of a private investment group, the municipality of Semmering and the state of Lower Austria began to revitalise the hotel, which was reopened in 1983.
The Südbahnhotel (Southern Railway Hotel) [left] was built in 18801881 as the first of a series of railroad hotels along the Southern Railway, which was completed in the 1870s (see below). The architect was Wilhelm von Flattich who in 1873 also had built the Southern Railroad Station in Vienna. The hotel was opened in 1882. Between 1900 and 1903 the hotel was enlarged. As the hotel can be seen from afar, it soon became the landmark of Semmering. The new Grand Hotel Südbahn was a truely luxurious palace hotel. In 1912/1913 a restaurant and ballroom wing was added. Between the two World Wars the hotel was modernised. The original interior decorations in the bar area are still almost completely intact today. An indoor swimming pool in the New Objectivity style was built in 1932. After World War II, however, the popularity of the Semmering area dwindled. In the 1960s the hotel business was successively discontinued. The original hotel was transformed into freehold flats in 1974. Almost nothing of the original interior design of 1882 has survived. Only the façade, the mosaic floor in the entrance hall and the central wooden staircase with its cast iron balustrade remained.
The two glasses on the left show two other hotels,