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Amazing New Observatory Floats Two Miles Up in the Italian Alps | Frommer's noa* network of architecture / Photo by Alex Filz

Amazing New Observatory Floats Two Miles Up in the Italian Alps

Here's a strong candidate for any traveler's post-pandemic wish list. 

The brand-new, glass-and-steel Ötzi Peak 3251m observation deck overlooks the Italian Alps at an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet—or, as you might have guessed from the name, 3,251 meters—above sea level. That's a little more than two miles.


(noa* network of architecture / photo by Alex Filz)

The observatory sits under a cross (that was already up there) atop the Schnalstal glacier ridge in the mountainous South Tyrol province near Italy's northeastern border with Austria.

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A firm called noa* network of architecture designed the viewing platform so that it only touches solid ground where absolutely necessary. 

This makes the structure seem to hover over the landscape like a flying saucer and give visitors an expansive and dizzying sense of almost floating over the Alps. 


(noa* network of architecture / photo by Alex Filz)

The observation deck also features an angled walkway, dubbed a "viewing funnel" by the architects, that is designed to direct attention to the spot where the mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman, a human believed to have lived around 3300 BCE, was found in 1991. (The remains have since been moved to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.)

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The viewing funnel's glass railing is intended to create an impression of walking on air. 

The Daily Mail reports that the observation deck can be reached via the Schnalstal Glacier Cable Car, which ascends Grawand mountain from a starting point in the village of Maso Corto.

Visitors not prone to altitude sickness can spend the night near the summit at the Glacier Hotel Grawand, one of Europe's highest-altitude hotels. 

For more ideas for your future exploration of the Alps, don't miss our feature 3 Swiss Peaks for Every Fitness Level—And How to Do Them.

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