The mountain village of Zermatt is one of the great ski and climbing centres of the world. Nestled in a deep valley enclosed between steeply scarped mountains, it is dominated by the huge and graceful pyramid of the Matterhorn.
From the moment you step off your Swiss-red train and catch sight of the cobbled streets and horses with sleighs patiently waiting for their rides, you know you are in a special place.
What strikes me most often is the silence. There are no cars here. This immediately creates a welcoming atmosphere. The air is fresh and
crisp. But more than this, you immediately feel a part of the village. It draws you in. Most everyone is on foot, locals and visitors alike.
The main street bustles happily with pedestrians. There are no impersonal tour buses belching out noise, fumes, and package tourists. Zermatt is no auto through-route. The train stops here. All journeys on from here are on foot or ski. Everyone is here because they love mountains. Walking through the cobbled paths of town, between the ancient sunburnt barns and chalets, you catch your first glimpse of the Matterhorn and know you have come to the right place. Welcome to Zermatt...
First Ascent of the Matterhorn
Zermatt's place in history was tragically secured with the first ascent of
the Matterhorn 150 years ago. As the surrounding peaks were climbed in the 1830's to 50's, there developed intense competition to conquer the Matterhorn, which for many years had been considered "unclimbable". The English climber Edward Whymper had made several abortive attempts from the Italian side, when in 1865, he learned that the Rev. Charles Hudson was to attempt the Matterhorn from Zermatt.|
Hurrying over the Theodulpass, he joined forces together with Lord Francis Douglas, George Hadow, and the guides Michel Croz (from Chamonix), and Peter Taugwalder and his son (from Zermatt).
On the 14th of July the ascent was triumphantly achieved. However during the descent, just below the summit on the north face, Hadow slipped. In three disastrous seconds, Hadow fell onto the unprepared Croz, subsequently pulling Hudson and Douglas away from the face. The elder Taugwalder belayed the rope round a rock; but it snapped and four of the seven climbers fell thousands of feet to their deaths down the north wall.
News of the triumph and tragedy flashed around the world, and Zermatt and the Matterhorn have held a special fascination for many people ever since. N.b.You can join our virtual climb of the Matterhorn by clicking here.
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Today the beauty of the setting is still unsurpassed. Dominated by the unmistakable peak of the Matterhorn, at 4478 metres (14,692 ft), standing alone at the head of the valley, Zermatt is encircled by a famous ring of mountains over 4000 metres (13000 feet) high. The names of Dent Blanche (4356m), Weisshorn (4505m), Dom (4545m), Gabelhorn (4062m), Zinal-Rothorn (4221m), and Monte Rosa (4634m) continue to attract mountain lovers to the heart of one of the world's most magnificent alpine areas.
Zermatt is car-free and consequently any walking around is very pleasant. A promenade down the main street in the evening is always popular. At any time, it is delightful to explore some of the tiny (and romantic) cobbled alleyways just off the main street, where you will find ancient sun browned barns and traditional chalets. It is very much like stepping back in time.
Places to eat... It should be noted that the quality is high throughout Zermatt and prices can vary immensely. Have a look around, there are cosy restaurants everywhere and menus with prices are normally posted outside. When in the mountains be sure stop at any traditional little mountain hut/restaurant you see. Normally these offer simple, but excellent dishes at reasonable prices. (The menus are usually translated into English)
Despite Zermatt's popularity, despite it's growth, it is still only a village, open and friendly, where people mix happily in the main street, mercifully free of cars, and dance the night away in the many rendezvous at hand. There are bars, restaurants and night-spots to suit every taste and pocket. Truly cosmopolitan, Zermatt rejoices in an easy comradeship among sportsman which knows no frontiers.
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Zermatt - the "Mountain Mecca" has
General village statistics
5700 permanent residents,
29000 guest beds
Local language is German; English spoken throughout
6 Doctors, 1
dentist, 4 pharmacies, 1 physiotherapist
Heliport Zermatt with 5 helicopters
Comprehensive Emergency service
Protestant and English churches
4 Banks, Post Office with telephones, telex, public fax
9 bakeries & many specialty food stores
Many Sports shops with ski, snowboard, mountain bike & climbing equipment sales and rental
Several Clothing boutiques & Shoe shops
Two Photo shops, several Dry-cleaners
Many Jewellers, Watch and souvenir shops
Many Hairdressers and Barbers
Mains power supply: 220 volts, 50 Hz
For any further information please contact us !
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