Brenner Pass

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The Brenner Pass (Italian Passo del Brennero) is a mountain pass that creates a link through the Tyrolean Alps along the current border between the nations of Austria and Italy, one of the principal passes of the Alps. It is the lowest (4,495 ft/1,370 m) and easiest of the Alpine passes, one of the few accessible points through which the Alps can be crossed in the Tyrol region, and for that reason possession of the pass has long been coveted. The Romans regularized the traditional crossing that memorializes the local tribe of the Brennii. The road to the Roman province of Raetia led from Verona and Tridentum (Trent) across the pass down to Oenipons (Innsbruck) following the Inn River and thence to Augusta Vindelicorum (Augsburg).

Heading southward through the Brenner route the Alamanni crossed into Italy in 268, to be stopped in November at the Battle of Lake Benacus. Control of the Brenner was wrested from Verona by Venice in 1178, a vital link to the silver that came from German mines. The pass was a trackway for mule trains and carts until a carriage road was opened in the 1770s. The railroad was completed in 1867, the only transalpine rail route without a major tunnel. Since 1918, control of the pass has been shared between Italy and Austria. Symbolically Hitler and Mussolini met here to publicly celebrate their pact, on March 18, 1940.

Below the pass high Alpine pastures have been used for summer grazing of dairy cattle, thus making space available at lower altitudes for cultivating and harvesting hay for winter fodder. Many of the high pastures are at altitudes of more than 1,000 meters.

The autobahn (motorway) E 45 (European designation; in Austria also called A 13, in Italy A 22), leading from Innsbruck via Bozen to Verona uses this pass and is one of the most important North-South connections of Europe. Even with the removal of customs, the long traffic jams before the Brenner Pass are dreaded by all Northern Europeans who want to spend their holidays on the Mediterranean Sea.

Also, the heavy freight traffic of lorries travelling through the Inn valley to reach the Brenner, creating pollution in this scenic area, causes much debate in regional and European politics. About 1.8 million trucks crossed the Europa Bridge in 2004 [1] (http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=111&sid=5428539) There are calls to move much of this traffic onto the railway .

The Europabrücke (Bridge Europe) a few kilometers north of the Brenner is a large concrete bridge, letting the autobahn pass with 6 lanes over the valley of the Sill River at a height of 180 m. 820 metres long, it was celebrated as a masterpiece of engineering when built from 1959 to 1963.

See also

Principle passes of the Alpsde:Brennerpass fr:Brenner it:Passo del Brennero ja:ブレンネル峠 nl:Brennerpas pl:Przełęcz Brenner sv:Brennerpasset

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