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Brenner Pass ( ; ) is a mountain pass through the Alps along the border between Italymarker and Austriamarker, and is one of the principal passes of the Alpsmarker. It is the lowest (1,370 m) and easiest of the Alpine passes, and one of the few in the area. For that reason possession of the pass has long been coveted.

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

The central section, the Brenner Pass itself, covers the track between Sterzingmarker and Matreimarker, through the village of Brenner.


Prenner was originally the name of a nearby farm which derived from its former owner. The farm of a certain Prennerius is mentioned in documents in 1288, a certain Chunradus Prenner de Mittenwalde is mentioned in 1299. The name Prenner is traced back to the German word for somebody who clears woodland. A name for the pass itself appears for the first time in 1328 as ob dem Prenner (German for above the Prenner).


The Romans regularized the already traditional crossing. The first Roman road connecting Italy with the province of Raetia north of the Alps, Via Claudia Augusta, was finished in 46-47 AD, but it did not cross the Brenner. The road started in Veronamarker and followed the Adige valleymarker to the Reschen Passmarker from where it descended into the Inn valley and from there over the Fern Passmarker to Augusta Vindelicorummarker (Augsburgmarker). Not until the 2nd century AD was a road over the Brenner Pass opened: coming through the Pustertalmarker, the road crossed the Brenner and descended from there to Veldidena (today Wiltenmarker), where it crossed the Inn and then the Zirler Bergmarker towards Partenkirchenmarker and on to Augusta Vindelicorum.

The Alamanni crossed the Brenner Pass southward into Italy in 268 AD, to be stopped in November at the Battle of Lake Benacus.

The pass was a trackway for mule trains and carts until a carriage road was opened in 1777. The railway was completed in 1867 and is the only transalpine rail route without a major tunnel. Since the end of World War I in 1918, when international borders shifted, control of the pass has been shared between Italy and Austria. Until then, both sides of the pass had been within the Habsburg-ruled Austro-Hungarian Empire. During World War II, the German leader Adolf Hitler and the Italian leader Benito Mussolini met there to celebrate their Pact of Steel on 18 March 1940.


The motorway E 45 (European designation; in Italy A 22, in Austria also called A 13) leading from Innsbruckmarker via Bolzanomarker to Veronamarker and Modenamarker uses this pass, and is one of the most important north-south connections in Europe. Even with the removal of customs, the long traffic jams before the Brenner Pass are dreaded by Northern Europeans who want to spend their holidays on the Mediterranean coastmarker.

The Europabr√ľckemarker (Bridge Europe), located just outside of Innsbruckmarker and a few kilometers north of the Brenner Pass, is a large concrete bridge carrying the six-lane autobahn over the valley of the Sill Rivermarker. At a height of 180 meters and a length of 820 meters, it was celebrated as a masterpiece of engineering upon its completion in 1963.

The heavy freight traffic traveling through the Inn Valley to reach the Brenner Pass, polluting this scenic area, causes much debate in regional and European politics. About 1.8 million trucks crossed the Europa Bridge in 2004.

In order to ease the road traffic, there are plans to upgrade the railroad from Verona to Innsbruck with a series of tunnels, including the Brenner Base Tunnelmarker under the Brenner Pass. Work started in 2006.

Tolls are collected at Brenner Pass for traffic going to and coming from Italy. The fee starts at ‚ā¨8.00 each way.

See also


  1. Egon K√ľhebacher (1991), Die Ortsnamen S√ľdtirols und ihre Geschichte, Bozen: Athesia, p. 59
  2. Walter Woodburn Hyde, Roman Alpine Routes (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press) 1935:194, "the use of the major pass-routes has been continuous from prehistoric times down to the present".
  3. "Geschichte Schwabens bis zum Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts" by Max Spindler, Christoph Bauer, Andreas Kraus, 3rd edition; publisher: C.H.Beck Verlag 2001 page 80 ISBN 3406394523, 9783406394522
  5. Galleria di Base del Brennero - Brenner Basistunnel BBT SE - Offline

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