The European country of Switzerland is famous for its mountainous landscapes and spectacular scenery. The country has 48 mountains that are more than 4,000 m above sea-level and many other peaks of lower altitude. The Alps run through the country with the 4,634 m high Mount Rosa of the Alpine range being the tallest mountain in Switzerland.
The presence of the lofty mountains makes it difficult to access some parts of Switzerland. However, roads built through mountain passes allow travel to such places.
A mountain pass is a safe route over a ridge or through a mountain range. Such passes connect two places on opposite sides of a mountain chain. They play a very significant role in human and animal migration, war, and trade. Mountain passes in Switzerland also serve the same purpose. Here are the country's highest road passes:
1. Umbrail Pass
The Umbrail Pass is the highest road pass in Switzerland. It is at an altitude of 2,501 m on the border between Switzerland and Italy. The pass connects Santa Maria village in the Val Müstair municipality of Switzerland with the town of Bormio in the Province of Sondrio in Italy. The Stelvio Pass road leads from the Italian side of the pass. The pass receives its name from a nearby mountain peak called Piz Umbrail.
2. Nufenen Pass
Located at an altitude of 2,478 m, the Nufenen Pass is the second highest road pass in Switzerland. It is between the summit of the Nufenenstock to the south and Pizzo Gallina to the north. The pass road leads from Ulrichen in the Valais canton to the Ticino Canton’s Bedretto valley. It links the two settlements of Brig and Airolo on either side of the pass. The pass has been open to vehicular traffic since 1969. The pass is relatively flat for the first 800 m and then quickly becomes steeper with some hairpin bends.
3. Great St Bernard Pass
Switzerland’s third highest road pass, the Great St Bernard Pass, is at an elevation of 2,469 m. It connects Martigny, the capital of the Martigny district in the Swiss Valais canton with Aosta, the principal city of Italy’s Aosta Valley. The pass is on the ridge between the Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa Mountains in the Alps. The pass has been used since ages for transport and surviving traces of a Roman road have been found here. It is also believed that the army of Napoleon entered Italy through this pass.
4. Furka Pass
Switzerland’s fourth highest road pass, the Furka Pass, is located at an elevation of 2,429 m. It links the hamlet of Gletsch in the Valais Canton with the Realp municipality in the Uri Canton. The Furka Oberalp Bahn railway line bypasses the Furka Pass through the Furka Tunnel. The pass served as a location in the Goldfinger, a James Bond film.
5. Flüela Pass
The Flüela Pass is the fifth highest road pass in Switzerland. It is at an elevation of 2,383 m in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It links the Alpine town of Davos with the Susch municipality in the lower part of the Engadin valley.