Construction of the first railway routes through the Alps (1848-1882)

Monumental entrance to the Mont-Cenis tunnel, Modane, on the list of historic monuments since 1926.

The construction of railway tunnels in the Alps marked the history of Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. The succession of construction works at Semmering (1848-1854), Mont-Cenis (1857-1871), and Gotthard (1872-1882) were carried out with the help of transfers of technology and knowledge, as well as debates among engineers. In a word, the tunnels channeled innovation onto a European scale, and at the same time embodied national ambitions and rivalries. For these reasons the construction sites became attractions, and tunnels made a lasting impression on the imagination.