Saint Anton am Arlberg



St. Anton am Arlberg is a municipality with 2372 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020) in the Landeck district in the state of Tyrol (Austria). It lies at the foot of the Arlberg on the border with Vorarlberg. St. Anton, once an important passport, is the largest contiguous ski area in Austria, the fifth largest in the world, one of the most famous winter sports resorts and is considered the cradle of alpine skiing thanks to the Ski Arlberg ski area.

Development of the community name
St. Anton am Arlberg has already had its fifth name within 750 years: Called Vallis taberna around 1275, the name Stanzertal followed for centuries (1275 - approx. 1805), before the community name St. Jakob for a short time as the location of the old curate St. Jakob was taken over (1805 - approx. 1811). This name should not have been satisfactory either and an agreement was reached on the community name after the old district Nasserein (1811 - 1927), which is located in the middle of the two fractions St. Jakob and St. Anton, probably also because the Postgasthaus is in this district until 1824.

With the construction of the new country road in 1824, the two districts of St. Jakob and Nasserein were bypassed and the district of St. Anton became more and more important. When the Arlbergbahn was built between 1880 and 1884, it was already clear at the planning stage that the station would be called St. Anton am Arlberg, although the community name was still Nasserein. In 1927 the community previously called Stanzertal was finally renamed St. Anton am Arlberg.

Traffic development
The history of the place, first mentioned around 1275 as Vallis taberna, is closely linked to the development of traffic on the Arlberg Pass.

Arlberg Pass
When Tyrol and Vorarlberg joined the Habsburg Empire in 1363, traffic increased on the road across the Arlberg. The transport of all kinds of merchandise, especially salt, and military goods including troop movements were of great importance. The villages on both sides of the Arlberg blossomed and new settlements emerged. In the list of subjects from 1427, 88 “family fathers with wives and children” are named, but in the list of fireplaces only 65 fireplaces. This suggests that many families lived in semi-detached and triple houses. The original village regulations from 1656 and 1802, which contain all the farms and their residents, including their rights and duties, are also very informative.

After the sale of the alpine areas on the Arlberg (called Alpe Stern) together with other alpine rights in 1450 to the city of Lindau on Lake Constance, the city gained control of the Arlberg traffic. Lindau, however, promoted the salt transport from Hall over the Fernpass and thus seriously damaged the salt transport traffic over the Arlberg.

In the course of the 15th century the road over the Arlberg fell into such disrepair that it was no longer passable by car. This condition persisted from approx. 1450 to 1787 and was only remedied with the opening of Josephinische Strasse over the Arlberg. The resulting strong increase in carriage traffic forced the further expansion of the Kunststraße in 1824, which resulted in the bypassing of St. Jakob and Nasserein.

Around 1860, Arlberg traffic quickly decreased again, as railways had already been built in the foothills of the Alps and the salt was now being transported again via Bavaria. The financial decline was palpable for the population in all parts of the village. Many locals now went abroad again as bricklayers, carpenters or henchmen because they could not make a living from small-scale agriculture.

Railway tunnel
In 1880 the construction of the Arlbergbahn and the Arlberg tunnel began. Emperor Franz Josef I. himself visited the tunnel construction site in 1881 and went about 1000 m into the tunnel to get an idea of ​​the largest construction site in the monarchy. The opening in 1884 meant not only a one-off major technical achievement, but also an enormous economic boom for the areas on both sides of the Arlberg. The construction of the railway brought work and the first tourists came to St. Anton am Arlberg by train. With the relocation of the station to the southern edge of the village, the tunnel was extended by over 400 m and now ends directly at the station.



Road tunnel
First a blessing, later a curse of the Arlberg community St. Anton was the increasing traffic over the Arlbergpass. From the mid-1950s, traffic had increased so much that the community had to take countermeasures. The idea of ​​the Arlberg road tunnel in connection with the Arlberg expressway was born. In 1974 work finally began on the 13.91 kilometer long, special toll tunnel between St. Anton and Langen in Vorarlberg. On December 1, 1978 this was given its destination. This measure led to a strong calming of car traffic in St. Anton, so that in the following years the village street could be declared a pedestrian zone in large parts.

The Swabian children
Due to the poor economic situation in the village, the often sad chapter of the Swabian children began around 1815. Countless children of poor people - mostly mountain farmers and day laborers - were sent in groups over the summer to the relatively wealthy Swabia and there, for example, at the children's markets. B. in Ravensburg offered as cheap labor. Most of the time they had to hire themselves out as guardian children and maids - this was not to end until 1914.

Influences of the National Socialist rule and the Second World War
The annexation of Austria to the National Socialist German Reich in 1938 was not without consequences in St. Anton. There were arrests, evictions and anti-Semitic measures; Thus, on the western edge of the village, the plaque “Jews are undesirable in St. Anton” was put up. The mentally ill and handicapped were victims of the T4 campaign.

Rudolf Gomperz, who together with Hannes Schneider had made St. Anton a leading winter sports destination, was one of the last Jews to be deported from Tyrol via Vienna to the Maly concentration camp, where he was murdered. In addition, two women from the village were abducted to Hartheim and murdered there as "unworthy life".

Among those persecuted by the National Socialists for their convictions was Rudolf Gomperz's companion, Hannes Schneider's greatest son at the time, who fled to the USA after being arrested.

Shortly before the end of the war, the village resembled an army camp: German troops fleeing from the advancing Americans jammed in front of the Arlberg Pass, which was impassable due to unusually high snowfall. Shortly before the American invasion at the beginning of May 1945, the German troops managed to move on, so that the place could be taken by the American troops largely without fighting.

Of 240 soldiers from St. Anton who were drafted during World War II, 86 did not return.

Development of tourism
In 1895 the innkeeper Carl Schuler built the first hotel, which opened in 1897 under the name Hotel Post. The Hotel Post had around 110 beds, central heating, electric lighting, reading and billiard rooms, a bowling alley and a lawn tennis court. More hotels soon followed. In 1910 St. Anton already had over 328 guest beds, which rose to 369 by the beginning of the First World War, which initially halted tourist development.

On January 3rd, 1901, the Arlberg Ski Club was founded in the hospice in St. Christoph and the first ski races were soon held. In 1907 Hannes Schneider came to the Hotel Post in St. Anton as a ski instructor. With his Arlberg technique, he revolutionized modern skiing. In 1922 he founded the St. Anton ski school. In the years that followed, the number of beds increased further; in 1927, thanks to the tireless efforts of Rudolf Gomperz (head of the tourist office from 1926), there were already 664 beds for guests.

In the 1930s, Arnold Fanck made several feature films in St. Anton, including The White Rush, Fox Hunting in the Engadine and the Wonder of the Snowshoe, which had a lasting impact on the development of skiing not only on the Arlberg but in the entire Alps. In 1934 there were 1,000 guest beds and around 55,000 overnight stays in St. Anton.

With the construction of the cable car on the Galzig in 1937, of which Rudolf Gomperz was the tireless advocate and pioneer, the foundation stone was laid for a large-scale cable car development, which began in the post-war years with the construction of the St. Christoph, Valluga, Gampen and Kapall cable cars Continued. At the beginning of the Second World War, 1154 beds could be counted, during the war St. Anton was a front-line holiday destination for several army units.


It was not until 1947 that tourism slowly got going again and continued steadily with great increases. The number of guest beds rose from 1700 (1956) to 5658 (1975) with over 560,000 overnight stays. Further cable car developments followed in the years 1965 to 1975, including a complete new development with the construction of the Rendlbahn in Moostal.

This development continued from 1975 to 1985 and with the Arlberg tariff association St. Anton became a large-scale ski area that enabled guests to use all lifts on the entire Arlberg. In 1985 the number of beds increased to 7,325 with 815,000 overnight stays. In 1995 the number of beds was 8,500 with 900,000 overnight stays. In the 1990s, the snowmaking systems were also expanded by the Arlberger Bergbahnen, which ensured that all ski mountains were largely guaranteed to have snow.

Wolf pit avalanche in 1988
On March 13, 1988 at around 6:50 a.m., an avalanche went off from the catchment areas of the Wolfsgrubenbach and Stockibach and buried parts of the Nasserein district. One house was completely destroyed and 29 others damaged. Five Swedish vacationers and two local women died and 23 others were injured. The B197 and the Arlbergbahn were buried under up to 5 m of snow; St. Anton was cut off from the outside world for three days. Work on the avalanche barriers began the following summer and was not fully completed until 2014.

Alpine World Ski Championships 2001
In 1996 at the FIS Congress in Christchurch / New Zealand, St. Anton was awarded the contract to host the 2001 Alpine World Ski Championships. The World Championships itself then became a major sporting event with more than 350,000 spectators on site. Directly or indirectly in connection with the World Cup, numerous new building projects arose in the area. The multifunctional congress center, the finish stadium “FIS Alpine Ski WM 2001” and the Nassereinbahn were direct world championship projects. In addition, many hoteliers used the opportunity to increase the number of beds by expanding their rooms or renovating their guest houses. Another major project in connection with the Alpine World Ski Championships was the relocation of the station and the route.

Railway laying
In connection with the 2001 Alpine World Ski Championships, the Arlberg railway line was relocated to the municipality and a new train station was built. The two billion schilling project was implemented within 36 months, and official operations on the new route began on September 10, 2000. By relocating the railway, the decades-long division of the village by the railway line was canceled and new open spaces were created in the middle of the village. Some were planted with a park. The noise nuisance also decreased significantly due to the now enclosed track. The old station building is a listed building and will be preserved.

Alpine floods in 2005
During the flood in August 2005, the highest flow rate of the Rosanna to date was measured at 186 m³ / s at the Strengen gauge. In several places the Rosanna stepped over its banks and destroyed u. a. Arlbergstrasse B 197 in St. Anton. Between Flirsch and Strengen the embankment of the Arlbergbahn was undermined, in Strengen also parts of the B171, so that the upper Stanzer Tal and thus St. Anton were cut off from the outside world for several days. Telephone, cellular and Internet connections were also interrupted. The southern tube of the Strenger Tunnel, which was under construction at the time, was provisionally prepared for traffic within a few days in order to re-create a makeshift road connection. In contrast to the Paznaun, however, due to the shape of the Stanzer Valley, there was no large-scale flooding.

Population development
In April 2009 the population was 2632. It has thus roughly tripled in the last 100 years, because in 1901 there were just 877 inhabitants. The number of houses was 106 in 1901 and over 800 in 2009.

Spread of the coronavirus 2020
On March 13, 2020, St. Anton was quarantined for two weeks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria. Foreign guests were asked to leave the country beforehand. Sometimes guests fled St. Anton on foot.