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Kantonbern Map

Taking the lift out of the station at Jungfraujoch to the area known as The Plateau is a great way to start a visit to the Top of Europe.

From here you can see all three of the main buildings: the triangular-roofed modern main restaurant and shopping complex, beyond it the older scientific research establishment and, perched in the top of the ridge, the Sphinx Observatory. There are also some fine views of the Aletschgletscher.

Then it's on to examine the heating system. The Eistpalast (Ice Palace) is a series of tunnels through the ice, filled with statues carved from the living ice (in most cases). It is not only highly decorative, but also very functional. In order to prevent the heat of the visitors bodies melting the carvings, heat-pumps are employed to keep the area below freezing. This in turn provides around 40% of the heating requirements of the rest of the complex.

Moving around the Eistpalast is an art in itself as the floors are also made from ice (Health and Safety Inspectors in this country would have a fit). Seeing all the visitors shuffling along holding on to the grab rails reminded me of the old ice rinks we used to have in this country. So I tried 'skating' in my walking boots. It worked very well, but I must have looked ridiculous.