Zermatt Switzerland is probably most famous as being one of the best Matterhorn ski resorts in the Swiss Alps. All Zermatt hotels are filled with tourists who have come to ski the excellent slopes in and around Zermatt or to try to ascend the grand Matterhorn. You are required to take a train to reach Zermatt as cars are strictly forbidden in the village with the exception of a few electric powered vehicles. As you step off the train onto the quaint cobbled streets of this picturesque Alpine village, you will realize that you have stepped into a different time when things moved slower and people were friendlier.
You can stroll down the streets of Zermatt to your Zermatt accommodations or take a horse-drawn sleigh. As you will quickly notice, the streets are filled with locals and tourists enjoying a brisk walk or a leisurely stroll but they all have one thing in common – – they seem to be relaxed and enjoying themselves. You may wonder how Zermatt became such a popular European tourist destination.
Zermatt is located in the southwestern portion of Switzerland at the foot of the Matterhorn and the local language remains German. Today there are about 5,500 permanent residents; however, Zermatt had humble beginnings as a rural agricultural village community. Zermatt weather permits excellent skiing conditions year-round which appeals to avid skiers and winter outdoor enthusiasts.
There are many important dates in the history of Zermatt; however, some are more notable with regard to the development of Zermatt as a European tourist destination. In 1838, a surgeon in Zermatt known as Lauber opened the first inn. The Hotel Cervie only had three beds at that time. By 1852, the first post office opened and began to carry mail between Zermatt and Visp. However, probably the most important date in Zermatt’s history is directly tied to Europe’s most famous mountain.
No one had successfully climbed the Matterhorn and most thought it was impossible until a group of seven brave men proved them wrong in 1865. Several previous attempts had been made from the Italian side of the mountain; however, this time the group ascended from Zermatt. On July 14, the group made history by successfully ascending the Matterhorn. This impressive achievement was mixed with tragedy as four of the men lost their lives in a tragic fall during their descent along the north wall. However, news of the group’s successful climb spread around the world and placed Zermatt firmly on the map as one of the best European locations for skiing and mountain climbing.
The small village began to grow as new hotels, restaurants and shops began to open to serve the growing number of tourists. In addition to the Matterhorn, Zermatt is surrounded by almost 30 mountains that reach heights above 4,000 meters, including nine of the ten highest mountains in Europe. Zermatt also has the highest ski lift in Europe at nearly 3,900 meters – – the Klein Matterhorn. In addition to have the longest winter skiing season in Europe from late November through early May, Zermatt also has the Alps’ largest summer skiing area with nine ski lifts and approximately 25 kilometers of ski runs open.
It is impossible to describe how beautiful and unique Zermatt is or explain in detail its full, rich history in a simple article. Find the perfect Zermatt hotel for your Matterhorn ski vacation so that you can experience the wonder and beauty of Zermatt for yourself.