Belvedere Hotel
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Belvedere Hotel was built in 1882 and it was once an iconic building in the Swiss Alps. According to some the road to the hotel is one of the most frightening paths.

Located at an altitude of 2,429 m on the Furka Pass, Belvedere hotel is located in one of the most beautiful bends in the Alps.

Nowhere else in the world can you drive so close to the end of a glacier, find yourself in a hotel room with a balcony overlooking a massive river of ice, and then descend a paved path to the glacier just a few hundred meters away.

Hotel Belvedere and Furka Pass, Switzerland, Drone Shot

The Belvédère building belongs to the last great wave of development, which began throughout 1880 in Switzerland. During this time, the number of hotels in Valais increased from 79 in 1880 to over 320 shortly before the First World War – a fourfold increase in just over three decades.

The number of beds during the same period jumped from just under 4,000 to over 15,000.

The panoramic location of Hotel Belvédère attracts a large clientele. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the hotel industry flourished throughout Switzerland, Joseph Sailer upgraded the hotel, giving it its present appearance. The number of beds in 1907 increased to ninety.

In the 20th century, visitors to the Rhone Glacier and the hotel steadily increased thanks to the opening of two new railways. With the increase in the number of private cars owned after World War II, more and more people can afford the pleasure of driving through the mountain pass with a glacier stop and a stay in Belvédère.

However, since the 1960s, the number of guests in the Alpine region has been declining sharply. Cars become too powerful and fast, so what used to be a two-day or three-day trip through the aisle becomes a one-day trip.

Tourists who used to spend the night at the hotel now eat lunch or drink just a cup of tea before heading back.

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

Although Belvedere has stood a test of time having been here for over 135 years, due to the receding glacier the hotel has shifted on its foundation. It was slowly decaying and not renovated for some time leading to its downfall.

When a new tunnel was built in 2000, that cut off the majority of the passing traffic, the hotel was finally forced to close in 2015. Now only people who want to drive the iconic Furka Pass, or visit the sites along the road drive past the hotel, unfortunately not enough to pay the running cost of the hotel.

007 James Bond

Goldfinger (1964)
The Hotel Belvedere was used as a film location for the third James Bond movie, Goldfinger with Sean Connery.

Rhone Glacier

Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

In 1850 it stretched far into the valley, but today the glacial tongue ends next to the hotel. In addition, one of the most attractive attractions – the cave, is still carved into it every year. According to the hotel’s website, it should open to tourists next summer as well. 

For nearly two centuries, Ron Hill has had an ice tunnel. Earlier in the mouth of the glacier is a natural cave that reaches the end of the valley. Due to its melting, however, it disappears. 

The current cave next to Hotel Belvédère dates back to at least 1894. It is carved into one of the cleanest sections of the glacier. It passes through about 100 meters of ice as sunlight descends through it and the entire tunnel is bathed in calm blue light.

The ice in the cave is 200 to 300 years old, and its layering can be seen in its walls, like the rings of a tree. 

Rhône Glacier, 19th century| Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Because the cave is carved on a moving glacier, it does not stand in the same place, nor does it retain its length and shape. By the end of October, when the Fourka Pass and the hotel close for the winter, the glacier will move 20 meters from the hill, and the cave, which was originally 100 meters long, will be shortened to 60 meters.

The glacier melts a lot during the summer months, and the cave is no longer suitable for tourists, which is why it is dug every year in the same place.

Furka Pass | Photo by Benjamin Behre on Unsplash

How to visit

There is open parking located next to the Belvedere Hotel. YOu can park your park there visit both the hotel and admire the Rhone glacier.

Another Belvedere Hotel located in Dubrovnik, Croatia was also Abandoned

During the Yogoslavia Wars, a local hotel in Dubrovnik called Belvedere was Abandoned. The hotel was used for filming in Game of Thrones in 2013. It is still there as of July 2014 and still accessible to any interested urban explorers. The hotel was built in 1986 by the communist government of Yugoslavia. During the 1991 war, it fell under siege and was abandoned. Almost 30 years later it’s still abandoned. The best way to enter is from the water where you can walk in from the once indoor pool. If you are entering from the road above take the path on the left and you can walk in from a number of open doors. The hotel is massive, with 13 stories of rooms, restaurants, clubs, and pools to explore. Newspaper clippings and tourism brochures dated back to 1991 when it was attacked during the war. The walls and floors are concrete and there is little damage to anything structural.

If you liked this post you may also take a look at The Mystery of the Montenegro Casino Royale from James Bond

By Jack Davis

Passionate traveler. Live to travel and travel to live.