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.|
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.|
|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.|
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.|
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!
|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.
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.|
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!
|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.|
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.|
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.|
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!