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 gracefully curved 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 alpine. 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…
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.
- 29 mountains soaring over 4000m (13,100ft)
- Nine of the ten highest mountains in Europe
- the highest (ski) lift in Europe – Klein Matterhorn (Gobba di Rollin) 3899m (12,830ft)
- the largest summer skiing area in the Alps (all year 9 ski lifts / 25 km runs)
- the longest winter skiing season in Europe (late November to early May)
- the longest consistently open ski run in Europe (Klein Matterhorn to Zermatt 13 Km – open late November to mid April)