Hammetschwand Lift, an outdoor elevator at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

Ascend to the Clouds in This Breathtaking Outdoor Elevator

Ascend to the Clouds in This Breathtaking Outdoor Elevator

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Jan. 15 2015 2:10 PM

Ascend to the Clouds in This Breathtaking Outdoor Elevator

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The summit of Bürgenstock, a mountain overlooking Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, offers stunning panoramic views of the Alps, the serpentine lake, and the bustling yet bucolic city of Lucerne. And the journey to this spot is just as thrilling as the destination: To ascend to the top, you ride in Europe’s tallest outdoor elevator, built in 1905.

The trip to the peak, which rises 3,714 feet above sea level, begins at a rock pit inside the mountain, reached via hiking path. Step into the 12-person, glass-walled Hammetschwand elevator and you’ll be rocketed up the last 500 feet to the summit in under a minute. 


Lest you be concerned that the cables on this 110-year-old contraption may be getting a little frayed, rest assured that the elevator has been upgraded over the decades. In 1935 the speed was increased from 3.3 feet per second to the current speed of just under 9 feet per second.

The top of the elevator, with the city of Lucerne in the background.

Photo: Baumanns/Creative Commons

Overlooking the lake.

Photo: Gindegg/Creative Commons

One of the paths overlooking Lake Lucerne.

Photo: Philipp Meier/Creative Commons

The view from the top.

Photo: Tschubby/Creative Commons

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.