Thank you for your patience during the Forum downtime while we upgraded the software. Welcome back and see this thread for some new features and other changes to the forum.

Main Menu

The Autobahn Turns 90...sorta

Started by MikeTheActuary, August 07, 2022, 07:28:12 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Deutsche Welle has a little pictorial puff piece celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first autobahn.   (Although the road, now designated A555, wasn't officially an autobahn

A555, which runs between Köln and Bonn, opened on 6 August 1932...although if Wikipedia is to be believed, it wasn't officially an autobahn until 1958.

The oldest stretch of autobahn is apparently the old AVUS track, now part of A115 outside Berlin, but that wasn't open to public use until after what is now A555 opened.

The first official autobahn was a portion of A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt which opened on 19 May 1935.

Stephane Dumas

I guess we have to celebrate with this now classic song from Kraftwerk titled Autobahn. ;)


As design standards evolved over time, it's always a debate what was the first true Autobahn / motorway.

A555 was originally built as a 'kraftfahrstraße', not an Autobahn. Although it was a controlled-access highway with four lanes, it did not have a median barrier.

AVUS (A115) was a race track and not a conventional public road until after World War II.

A5 Darmstadt - Frankfurt was the first Reichsautobahn built by Hitler. However the Reichsautobahn did not have paved shoulders as a design feature.

The first Autobahn with full shoulders was probably not built until the 1950s.

Likewise, the Italian autostrada evolved over time, but the name stayed the same. The first Italian autostrade were roads reserved for motor vehicles and were tolled, but they weren't actual motorways, many if not all of them built before World War II were single carriageway roads with 2 or 3 lanes total. A90 around Rome is usually considered to be the first modern autostrada (divided highway with shoulders), opening in 1951, but this was a very short segment. A7 Tortona - Seravalle opened in 1958 as the first longer segment of four lane divided autostrada.

In the Netherlands, the first precursor to the modern autosnelweg opened in 1933 between The Hague and Rotterdam, but it did not have divided carriageways (similar to A555 in Germany). A12 east of The Hague was the first motorway in Europe to incorporate both divided carriageways and shoulders in 1937. However the shoulders were laid with bricks at that time (it was an economic stimulation of the brick industry at that time).

Road Hog

That section of the A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt has probably been expanded or rebuilt three or four times since its construction. To see the original iteration of the autobahn, one has to probably go deep into rural East Germany today.


A11 near Schmölln (northeast of Berlin) had the last original Reichsautobahn concrete. It was replaced by asphalt in 2020.

There was some 1930s concrete on highways in Western Poland, but I believe pretty much all has been replaced by now. The original carriageway of A18 in Southwestern Poland is being replaced right now.

However there are some sections of Autobahn remaining which are still largely in 1930s design. Such as A4 east of Bad Hersfeld (partially) and A8 Rosenheim - Salzburg. These have no shoulders and 1930s geometry.

Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.