Semmering is not only the name of the almost 1,000 meter high
Alpine pass between Lower Austria and Styria about 90 km south of
Vienna, but also the region of interest between Mürzzuschlag and
On the Styrian side of Semmering, near Mürzsteg, the Appelhof is home to Europe's largest children's playground (80,000 square meters).
In 1854, the first high mountain railway in Europe, which Karl Ritter von Ghega had built over a six-year construction period, opened on Semmering. (http://www.semmeringbahn.at) The railway line, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, opened up the region as a "summer retreat" for wealthy, mostly noble Viennese families, and the often elaborate buildings from the second half of the 19th century still characterize the landscape . The region, which had lost its importance in the 20th century, has recently become very popular again as an easily accessible ski area.
The region can be reached by car from Vienna via the A2 (south motorway) and S6 (Semmering expressway) and from Graz via the A9, S35 and S6 in just under an hour. The area can be reached by train with regional and long-distance trains from Vienna and Graz.
World cultural heritage Semmering Railway
Vienna high spring water pipeline
Pilgrimage Church of Maria Schutz
Since the 19th century, the place has been a popular summer
holiday destination for Vienna's “fine society”. In the villas of
the fashionable spa town not only the nobility gathered (Emperor
Karl I often spent his holidays in the Villa Wartholz nearby with
his son Otto), but also the Second Society and artists (e.g. Oskar
Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg or Karl Kraus). They gave and
still give the attitude to life here this name.
Famous hotels such as the Südbahnhotel (built in 1882) or the Hotel Panhans (built in 1888) and the Kurhaus Semmering (built in 1909) as well as the Hotel Erzherzog Johann on the Passhöhe (the latter destroyed in 1945) were magnets for tourists and hikers until the interwar period. After 1945 the health resort suffered from the consequences of the fighting at the end of the war, the Soviet occupation and the loss of the upper class Jewish clientele. It is currently positioning itself primarily as a winter sports location. The Hotel Panhans has been revitalized, but the fate of the Südbahnhotel is uncertain - after partial renovation.
The place flourished above all with the construction of the railway over the Semmering, which was opened in 1854. With it, Semmering could be comfortably reached from Vienna, barely 80 km away, according to a poster by the Panhans Hotel from 1920 "in 2 hours by train".
In line with the sophisticated character of the place, they tried to entertain their guests. The first Semmering hill climb took place as early as 1899, a motorsport event over ten kilometers for automobiles and motorcycles that were not yet fully developed at the time. Until 1933, races were held annually with a few interruptions, and well-known names such as Rudolf Caracciola and Hans Stuck entered the winners' lists. Today, Semmering is probably the most popular venue for vintage car rallies and historic motorsport in the Vienna area.
In the 1920s and 1930s, several high-ranking chess
tournaments took place on the Semmering, among the participants were
names like the world chess champions Alexander Alekhine and José
Raúl Capablanca, the world chess champion Vera Menchik or the
grandmasters Paul Keres, Efim Bogoljubow and Rudolf Spielmann.
From the early 1930s to around 1960, the Semmering Alpine Lido was one of the area's attractions. Semmering has also been a winter sports destination since the turn of the century. Today lifts lead to the Hirschenkogel (which has again been given the nickname Magic Mountain). World Cup ski races also take place regularly on the Hirschenkogel.
In summer, the lifts on the Zauberberg are used for the Semmering bike park, which has been used by downhill and freeride mountain bikers since 2006. The lifts are available to bikers from June to October. In the bike park there are several routes with different levels of difficulty (including family route, freeride route, downhill route) and numerous jumps, root passages, banked turns, etc. In addition, the first 24-hour downhill race was held in 2006.
The performances of the Reichenau Festival in the Südbahnhotel are also an attraction for visitors in summer. In 2007, Alma, the play about Alma Mahler-Werfel, also experienced numerous performances in the Kurhaus Semmering. Alma Mahler-Werfel owned a villa on Semmering, and her daughter Anna Mahler got engaged to her future husband Paul Zsolnay during a stay at the Kurhaus.
The Semmering was particularly valued by the Viennese around 1900 as a local recreation and excursion area. Even today, winter tourism and spa tourism are of great economic importance (180,000 overnight stays per year, with a strong upward trend).
Located on the Semmering Pass, the place was also of great importance in terms of north-south traffic. The ever increasing transport of goods by road meant that a tunnel under the Semmering was planned and completed in 2004 (Semmering expressway). The town center is currently being redesigned, including the "Erzherzog Johann" restaurant, which closed in 2007, was reopened in early March 2010.