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16 September 2012

A Visit to the Village of Zermatt and the Matterhorn in Switzerland

Enchanted Zermatt in Switzerland is aglow beneath the towering Matterhorn and Swiss Alps.  Please note all written content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Photography is copyrighted by Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Enchanted Zermatt in Switzerland is aglow beneath the towering Matterhorn and Swiss Alps.  Please note all written content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Photography is copyrighted by Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Once again, I am thrilled to be working with Brian Jannsen on this partner post highlighting the sublime alpine village of Zermatt in Switzerland. If you liked our previous posts on Provence, Alsace and the number ONE post of all time on EuroTravelogue Bavaria, wait until you see how Brian captures the dramatic scenery of enchanting Zermatt in Switzerland.


Sweeping views of the Zermatt village lying beneath the mountain majesty of the Swiss Alps.
Sweeping views of the Zermatt village lying beneath the mountain majesty of the Swiss Alps. 

Lying to the west beyond the Dolomites, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, is the quintessential Alpine village of Zermatt cradled in Swiss Alpine mountain majesty. Encircled by peaks reaching heights in excess of 13,000 feet, Zermatt reminded me of James Hilton's "Shangri La" from "Lost Horizon;" for nestled at the foothills of the frozen Alpine terrain, lies this enchanting Alpine village aglow with the warmth of the light against the frozen backdrop of the mountains. Renowned for its premier Alpine skiing—highest in the world, Zermatt is also home to world-class health spas, challenging hiking trails and the quintessential Alpine village with its quaint Swiss architecture, cobble-stone streets and horse-drawn sleighs—truly a sublime setting that enchants and delights all who visit. Won't you join me on this tour through Zermatt, Switzerland?


Quaint Alpine village houses climb the slopes of the Swiss Alps.
Quaint Alpine village houses climb the slopes of the Swiss Alps.

What first put Zermatt on the map so to speak, was the successful ascent of pioneering mountaineers who first conquered the formidable terrain of the towering Matterhorn in 1865 albeit with tragedy striking four of the seven who scaled its soaring peaks. From that historical moment, Zermatt was favored by hikers and mountaineers the world over and has prospered into one of the premier skiing and hiking destinations in the world!


The awe-inspiring Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for the Swiss village of Zermatt.
The awe-inspiring Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for the Swiss village of Zermatt.

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, this Alpine community has a lot to offer its visitors no matter the season. If you're not a skier or a mountain climber, no worries, there is plenty to do. Find supreme relaxation in one of the world-class spas. Satiate your thrill-seeking adventurous side without the exertion by climbing aboard one of many cable cars or railways that soar into the clouds and offer jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Alpine Mountains! Perhaps it's a stroll down to the village along the cobbled streets of the Bahnohostrasse (main street) lined with quaint shops brimming with trendy outfits, jewelry, equipment and more. Whatever your pleasure, you'll need to satisfy your hearty appetites at the end of the day and Zermatt dining serves up some of finest cuisine in the world. In the evening, head to the pubs or if you're seeking cultural stimulation, visit one of the local galleries or attend a nearby festival. As you can see, Zermatt really offers something for everyone!


It's a long road to the top of the Matterhorn from this tiny river flowing through Zermatt
It's a long road to the top of the Matterhorn from this tiny river flowing through Zermatt.

One of the many pleasures of shopping in the village of Zermatt—Swiss chocolate.
One of the many pleasures of shopping in the village of Zermatt—Swiss chocolate.

Depending on when you visit, you may hear the sounds of the "Zermatt Unplugged" acoustical concerts in the spring; or the "Folkloresommer" folk music series in the summer with its more traditional sounds of Alpenhorn, Schwyzerörgeli (accordian) and Büchel (smaller Alpenhorn with a "twist") resounding throughout the village; or even the Folklore Festival celebrating traditionally Swiss music and costume. As my fellow journalist Sonja Holverson states in her recent article on Erlenbach, the Swiss have developed a festival to celebrate nearly every aspect of their lives and in every village along the way—Zermatt is no exception!

Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland


Looking down into the village of Zermatt from behind Saint Peter's Church.
Looking down into the village of Zermatt from behind Saint Peter's Church. 

Hiking and Cable Cars


Gornergrat Bahn is the highest open-air railway in all of Europe and once at top, promises jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Swiss Alps. This photo only: WikiMedia.org.
Gornergrat Bahn is the highest open-air railway in all of Europe and once at top, promises jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Swiss Alps. This photo only: WikiMedia.org. 

Abundant trails throughout Zermatt are a hiker's dream come true. Hike to Chamonix, France and the Patrouille Glaciers via the Haute Route. Walk along the Zermatt, Täsch and Randa trails that are all accessible by a number of cable car or railways that ascend the steep Alpine terrain. The Klein Matterhorn cable car, the highest in all of Europe, soars to more than 12,500 feet for spectacular mountain views. Or, climb aboard the Cervinia cable car and dolce la vita in Italy. But the piece-de-resistance is the Gornergrat Bahn—the highest open-air railway in all of Europe—departs every 24 minutes and as it climbs the Gornergrat crossing bridges, plunging into mountain tunnels; crusing through idyllic Alpine meadows, and soaring above cavernous gorges and valleys—unforgettable moments along every railroad tie of the journey!

Glacier Express


A most spectacular view of Switzerland from the panorama car aboard the Bernina Express. This photo only: Property of Eurail. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
A most spectacular view of Switzerland from the panorama car aboard the Bernina Express. This photo only: Property of Eurail. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

All aboard—the Glacier Express for some of the most stunning panoramic views of the Swiss Alps. Ride the railways from Zermatt to Piz Palü or St. Moritz—approximately seven hours away—along the journey, you'll revel in the spectacular mountain scenery. Check out my "InterRail" post for pictures of this extraordinary experience.

Cheesemaking

As if I didn't get enough of this in The Netherlands but can anyone ever have too much cheese? In the summer, head to the Apsennerie (Alpine Dairy) or if you're visiting in the winter, stop by the Horu cheese house in the village to taste a variety of fresh and aged Swiss cheeses.


Charming Alpine cottage in Zermatt.
Charming Alpine cottage in Zermatt. 

Zermatt Ski

Zermatt offers thrill seekers world-class skiing with varied terrains for every level of skier and snowboarder alike. Plus, it's the only place in the world where you can ski between Switzerland and Italy. But wintertime activities don't stop there. There are lots of other Alpine adventures including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, paragliding, skating and more!

Village Highlights


Close-up view of Zermatt aglow by the village lights with the imposing Matterhorn rising in the background.
Close-up view of Zermatt aglow by the village lights with the imposing Matterhorn rising in the background.

Mont Cervin Palace


Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt greets its guests at the nearby train station with its renowned red horse-drawn carriage.
Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt greets its guests at the nearby train station with its renowned red horse-drawn carriage.

Quintessentially Alpine but oh so supremely deluxe is the Zermatt resort Mont Cervin Palace that opened in 1851. Only a short distance from the train station, the Mont Cervin Palace greets guests with its iconic red horse-drawn carriage waiting for you at the station to carry you off to the resort.

Saint Mauritius Catholic Church


Saint Mauritius Church dominates the village skyline with its picturesque clock tower and stunning mountain backdrop.
Saint Mauritius Church dominates the village skyline with its picturesque clock tower and stunning mountain backdrop.

Dominating the Zermatt village skyline is the Saint Mauritius Church with its picturesque clock tower—a most dramatic scene with the Matterhorn mountain backdrop. According to historical records, there has been a Saint Mauritius Church standing on this ground this 1285. In 1587, a new church replaced its predecessor only to find itself replaced in 1913 when construction began on the edifice we see today. Interrupted by WWI, its interior and clock tower with three new bells were finally completed in 1932 and marked the end of construction.

Saint Peter's Church aka The English Church


Saint Peter's Anglican Church awaits parishioners at the end of this enchanting village path.
Saint Peter's Anglican Church awaits parishioners at the end of this enchanting village path. 

Steeped in the history of Zermatt, Saint Peter's Anglican Church was born out of necessity for the increasing number of English visitors who expressed their desire for a place of worship while visiting in Zermatt. With the cornerstone laid on June 29, 1869, Saint Peter's Day, the English Church opened its doors October 29, 1870. Buried beneath its Communion Table are the remains of an Anglican minister who perished in the Matterhorn tragedy mentioned above.

Did you know?

Gas-powered cars are NOT permitted within the village of Zermatt, and haven't been since 1947.

Lastly, I would like to thank Brian Jannsen for his partnership and his extraordinary photography. If you're not familiar with Brian's work, his renowned award-winning images have been published in books, calendars and magazines including National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Frommers. You must visit BrianJannsen.com to see for yourself how this master of light and lens captures sublime impressions of the places he visits. Also, he hosts a variety of photography workshops throughout the year, most of them in Europe too.

I hope you enjoyed this pictorial journey through Zermatt, Switzerland!

34 comments:

  1. Oh the pictures are gorgeous! I'm not a big fan of snow and most definitely not snow on mountains, but this I have to see in person, as they say.

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    1. Hi there Marlys and thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts! I couldn't agree with you more about these pictures however, I would love to spend a few nights here exploring this village and capturing some of the awesome scenery beckoning to photographers everywhere.

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  2. Oh Jeff you've found another one of my favorite villages! Zermatt is special and full of "jaw-dropping views". My favorite thing to do is just be there and enjoy cheese fondue! I'm a simple girl :) Only in my dreams do my photos turn out this wonderful! Beautiful doesn't seem enough.

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    1. Hi there Debbie! Thank you so much for stopping by to share your comments here and on Facebook too! I couldn't agree with you more about Brian's photography...a truly talented artist who touches my soul with every single image he captures!

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  3. I love the mountains of Switzerland. I have not been to Zermatt but I have been to the village of Gimmelwald a couple of times.

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    1. HI there Jeff and thanks so much for stopping by to share your experiences! I hear wonderful things about Gimmelwald and it's definitely in my bucket of dreams and high on the list too!

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  4. Hi Jeff what a coverage about Zermatt! I haven't been and look forward to going there sometime soon. Brian's photos are magnificent. Thanks for the inspiring post.

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    1. Hi there Marisol and thanks so much for stopping by! I couldn't agree with you more about the stunning beauty of Brian's photography. Actually, he has inspired me to write not only about Zermatt, but Alsace, Bavaria and Provence. All sublime images...I just love his work. Thx again my friend!!

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  5. So beautiful! What a great way to experience local culture AND see the views and eat. Gorgeous photography Jeff thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hi there Charu and thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by to share your thoughts! I promise to pass along your compliements to Brian as well!

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  6. ADORE this post! I've seen the Matterhorn in sooo many movies but Brian's photos are spectacular. I would definitely be up for some cool apres-ski in atmospheric Zermatt. The snow looks especially enticing from my current sizzling-in-Sicily perspective:P

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    1. Hi there Lesley and thank you so much for stopping by. I too have seen the Matterhorn in plenty of films and documentaries, not to mention Disneyland ; ), and would love a close encounter for myself! Hope all is well in Sicilyland!

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  7. The town at the base of the mountains looks charming! What a nice place to spend time in the wintertime. And I want some of that swiss chocolate - it looks delicious!

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    1. Hi Audrey!

      I couldn't agree with you more on every point you mention above. Let's go and get some of that chocolate now! Thx so much for stopping by and sharing your comments!

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  8. What a magical place! Looks like the real Whoville :) ... Your photographer is pretty good too ;) Great stuff!

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    1. Hi there Jeremy and thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  9. The pictures are fantastic ! Zermatt is a wonderful village that my wife & I come back to time after time.

    We love to hike there in the summer and enjoy the many trails and simply stunning scenery every where you look.

    There is always a warm welcome in the mountain restaurants where you can sit, enjoy a beer and some Rosti while taking in the views.

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    1. Hi there Steve and thanks so much for all of your kind words! I will be sure to pass the comments on to the photographer--truly a master of light and lens, as I often like to say! Would love to partake in those delicious moments you described above. Sounds positively enchanting. Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts!

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  10. Swiss cheese in Zermatt? Cholesterol? Please everybody of us be careful! And.. much white in these photos, very good.

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    1. Hello there Calogero.

      Didn't you know that Zermatt is cholesterol free? ; )
      Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts!

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  11. Really nice photographs and essay Jeff! Such beauty but as one other person mentioned here, I am not a snow liker anymore after having to work in it, clean it up, and shoveling it. LOL However, the night scenes here are beautiful and could MAYBE tempt me to go to a place like this. :-)

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    1. Hi there Tim!

      So happy you finally made it! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words as well. Brian is an exceptional talent and I beg him for photos for a number of my essays. I have yet to meet another who masters light in the way he does. It's sublime and I bet these photos do persuade you one day to return to the frozen and picturesque wintry wonderlands!

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  12. Zermatt, is a beautiful town in Switzerland and good place for spend the time pictures are fantastic last week Me and my family were there really a awesome place.

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    1. Hi there David and thank you so much for stopping by. I couldn't agree with you more about Zermatt...positively enchanting!

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  13. SO spectacular. Too much to believe. Just a must-see. Thanks for an excellent roundup.

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    1. Thank you so much Susan for stopping by and for your kind words!! I really appreciate it!!

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  14. Spectacular post once again, Jeff! I so admire you & your writing style, and your way of presenting your posts with gorgeous photos. I aspire to your greatness in travel writing!!! Best regards as always, Deborah

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    1. Deborah, I am incredibly honored and deeply touched by your praise my friend! Thank you for such kind words, they mean more to me than you'll know! I am so glad you enjoyed the post, I had a wonderful time putting it all together with the help of my friend Brian's photography, it truly became a win/win!! Thank you for stopping by!

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  15. Wow, you keep pre-empting our next trip(s). We are going to Zermatt in March after Nozawa Onsen, then Kitzbuhel, so a post on that would also be awesome too. This post has again confirmed that you are a great writer and your images are amazing. As my new bestie, I think you should be my mentor.

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    1. Hi there Paula and thank you so much for your kind compliments! I am truly honored by such praise! The photo credit in THIS POST goes to my friend Brian Jannsen ... the master of light and lens!! He is my inspiration for a lot of the articles I have written on this site. Check out Alsace, Provence and Bavaria! You're in for a real treat!

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  16. ZERMATT AND THE CERVIN HAVE ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVOURITE EN SUISSE I PROJECT TO RETURN NEXT WINTER

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    1. That sounds wonderful my Anonymous friend!! Wish I could be there too! Thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts!!

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  17. What an absolutely beautiful site dedicated to Zermatt. I was there 3 weeks ago and was astounded by the beauty and preservation of the past!!! Laurie Clark Dieppe NB, Canada

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    1. Hi there Laurie! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your journey with me! I love to read comments like this! So glad you enjoyed this post my new friend and thank you again!!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!