Simplon Tunnel

I will be able to speak to you only of relentless struggles and bloody daily battles fought by Man against Nature, namely, of continuous perils, of arduous toils borne by him, of ingenious plans and mechanisms long studied and put into operation by human acumen to reach the noble predetermined goal of opening a new path to civilization and progress in the heart of the Alps.

Nothing better than these words taken from Alessandro Malladra’s “The Simplon Tunnel” of 1905 exemplifies the grandeur of one of the greatest railway engineering feats ever accomplished. A nearly 20 km long tunnel that connects Switzerland to Italy, from Briga to Iselle. This is the Simplon Tunnel, inaugurated by King Vittorio Emanuele III and Swiss President Ludwig Forrer on May 19, 1906. The construction began in 1898 and was completed in 1905. Around 3000 miners participated in the realization of the Simplon Tunnel. About a hundred workers lost their lives due to the grueling pace of work and extreme heat (the temperature could even reach 55°C). The imposing project encountered significant challenges during the construction, starting from the characteristics of the rocks (too friable or too hard to drill) and the presence of numerous water sources.

The Civic Museum of Palazzo San Francesco displays rock samples collected during the excavation works and donated to the city of Domodossola by the Jura-Simplon Company, the company that built the Simplon Tunnel. Also, on the first floor of Palazzo San Francesco, there is a model of the Simplon, showing the route taken by Geo Chavez, the first man to fly across the Alps, aboard his “Bleriot X” on September 23, 1910. In the large showcase placed in Via Antonio Rosmini, the stagecoach and sled of the Simplon, as well as parts of the aircraft used for the first flight across the Alps, are exhibited.

Google Map

Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Online Gift Shop
Group Tours

This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.