The new observation deck that lets visitors 'float' over a glacier

Pictured: The incredible new observation deck that lets visitors ‘float’ over a glacier 10,000ft up in the Italian Alps

  • The observation deck, called Ötzi Peak 3251m, is perched on the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in South Tyrol 
  • It is made out of Corten steel, which allows the platform to ‘blend in with the landscape’
  • The viewing platform can be reached by either hiking up the Grawand mountain or by taking a cable car 

Ascending to this incredible new observation deck might just be the peak experience of a visit to the Italian Alps. 

Called Ötzi Peak 3251m, it is perched around the corner from Austria on the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in the South Tyrol at a height, as the name suggests, of 3,251m (10,666ft). 

The viewing platform offers breathtaking views and has been designed so it only touches the ground where necessary. This, say the architects, makes it an ‘almost floating construction which lets you become one with the mountains and breathe in the freedom’.

The incredible Ötzi Peak 3251m observation deck on the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in Italy’s South Tyrol 

The viewing platform offers breathtaking views and has been designed so it only touches the ground where necessary. This, say the architects, makes it an ‘almost floating construction which lets you become one with the mountains and breathe in the freedom’ 

Otzi Peak 3251m can be reached in two ways – either by hiking up the Grawand mountain or via the Schnalstal Glacier Cable Car, which runs from the Italian village of Maso Corto to the Grawand mountain station, 3,212m (10,538ft) up 

It has been created by Italian-based design studio Network of Architecture (Noa) and is now open for visitors.

The platform is made out of Corten steel, which Noa says gives it a ‘modern touch that also blends in with the landscape’. It also incorporates the pre-existing cross there.

One of the stand-out features is the deck’s ‘geometric viewing funnel’.

Its purpose is apparently to direct viewers’ eyes to the spot nearby where Ötzi – a 5,300-year-old glacier mummy – was discovered by hikers in 1991.

‘The angle of the viewing funnel takes the visitor on a carefully crafted, intellectual journey to the Iceman,’ say the designers.

The platform has been designed by Italian-based design studio Network of Architecture (Noa) and is now open for visitors

Architecture firm Noa says: ‘At the new observation deck on the Schnals Valley Glacier, your mind is refreshed with the wide-open views’ 

One of the stand-out features is the deck’s ‘geometric viewing funnel’ (pictured). Its purpose is apparently to direct viewers’ eyes to the spot nearby where Ötzi – a 5,300-year-old glacier mummy – was discovered by hikers in 1991 


On the left are a series of steps and a walkway that lead to the observation deck. One the right is the geometric funnel from another angle that Noa says will leave visitors feeling like they’re floating

What’s more, the end of the funnel is completed with a glass railing, leaving visitors ‘feeling like they are floating on air’.

Otzi Peak 3251m can be reached in two ways – either by hiking up the Grawand mountain or via the Schnalstal Glacier Cable Car, which runs from the Italian village of Maso Corto to the Grawand mountain station, 3,212m (10,538ft) up.

They can then hike up the remaining 40 metres (131ft) to the viewing platform using a series of steps and a walkway.

The viewing platform also lies close to Hotel Grawand, which at an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,842ft) is Europe’s loftiest hotel.

The platform is made out of Corten steel, which Noa says gives it a ‘modern touch that also blends in with the landscape’ 

Hotel Grawand, which at an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,842ft) is Europe’s loftiest hotel. This image was taken before the observation deck was built

The easiest way to reach the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge is by cable car, pictured 

Breathtaking location: Views from Hotel Grawand are spectacular, as this image shows

Noa adds: ‘At the new observation deck on the Schnals Valley Glacier, your mind is refreshed with the wide-open views.

‘There is something sublime about this special place, right at the top of the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge, where Italy’s impressive alpine landscape soars high above the reservoir below, and Austria is around the corner. In this unique geographic location, fate decides whether a drop of glacier water will make its way towards the Mediterranean or the Black Sea.

‘The breathtaking landscape view of snow-covered mountain peaks makes time standstill. Hikers and skiers visit the peak to experience nature at its fullest: rugged, stony, with wind and weather – pure.’ 

WHO WAS ÖTZI THE ICEMAN? 

Since his discovery near the site of the observation deck and Hotel Grawand on December 19, 1991, by German hikers, Ötzi has provided a window into early human history.

Analysis of the body has told us that he was alive during the Copper Age and died a grisly death.

Ötzi, who was 46 at the time of his death, had brown eyes, relatives in Sardinia, and was lactose intolerant.

A reproduction of 5ft 2in Otzi in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol

He was also predisposed to heart disease.

In 2015, experts discovered a total of 61 tattoos on Ötzi’s body using different wavelengths of light to pick them out on the mummy’s darkened skin.

More recent research has focused on the DNA in the nuclei of Ötzi’s cells, which could yield further insights into the famous ice mummy’s life.

Scientists examining the contents of his stomach have also worked out that his final meal consisted of venison and ibex meat.

Archaeologists believe Ötzi, who was carrying a bow, a quiver of arrows and a copper axe, may have been a hunter or warrior killed in a skirmish with a rival tribe.

Researchers say he was about 5ft 2.5 inches (159cm) tall, 46 years old, arthritic and infested with whipworm – an intestinal parasite.

His perfectly preserved body is stored in his own specially designed cold storage chamber at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy at a constant temperature of -6°C (21°F).

Visitors can view the mummy through a small window.

Alongside his remains is an Ötzi model created using 3D images of the corpse and forensic technology by two Dutch artists – Alfons and Adrie Kennis.

By Ian Randall  

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