5 things you may not know about Zermatt

Following my recent trip to Zermatt, not only did I fall in love with the skiing in this eco-friendly and super-efficient resort, but the village itself has more charm than a Disney classic. Although I was only visiting for 5 days and working a lot, I met great people and learnt some very interesting facts about Zermatt that I felt needed to be shared. If you are hoping for your bog standard resort knowledge blog this maybe isn’t the one for you; however for some surprising and rather amusing facts please read on…

1. Cuckoo Club used to be an illegal fighting club!

For anyone not familiar with Cuckoo Club, it is a small smoking lounge and cocktail bar situated below Gee’s Bar & Brasserie which takes pride of place on the main high street in Zermatt. Bought out and refurbished by Gee himself, it has quickly become established as a hot spot in the village alongside Gee’s above and neighbouring Snowboat and is a favourite hangout for both locals and visitors all year round. It pairs cigars and home-made chocolates with an array of delicious cocktails and plays live music 7 days a week for the après lover, but very few people know that it used to be a popular hangout for Portuguese and Spanish locals for illegal fighting! Who would have thought it in such a picturesque alpine resort?

Cuckoo Club

2. The stone slabs are not just for decoration?

Unlike other ugly man made ski resorts, Zermatt is crammed with history at every turn. Dating back to the mid 1800’s the walk through this village sees cobbled streets, a quaint catholic church with memorial grounds and original buildings still standing! During the walk through the oldest part of the village I noticed large circular stone slabs positioned in between the floors of the little huts. It turns out these quirky features are not just for decoration but were put in place to stop mice from joining the locals in their sleeping quarters….Mice are unable to climb upside down and so only got so far up before falling off!

Old Town

3. Impressive statistics for Zermatt

Zermatt is the highest and largest all-round ski area in the world. Guaranteed snow 365 days of the year and boasting over 350km of piste in winter, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest cableway and summer station in Europe (3,883m above sea level). You are also able to ski freely across both Switzerland and Italy, something no other ski resort can offer.

4. The first man to climb the Matterhorn was British

Indeed the team to successfully complete the first ascent of the infamous Matterhorn in 1865 was led by a British man named Edward Whymper. It ended disastrously however, when a rope snapped on the descent leading to four members tragically dying on the mountain. Queen Victoria promptly placed a ban on any British mountain enthusiast attempting to climb the Matterhorn again! It is thought that over 500 alpinists have died on the mountain since this first ascent making it one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps. On a lighter note, Zermatt proudly celebrates 150 years of this first ascent of the Matterhorn on 14th July this year, a great time to visit the resort with lots of celebrations.

5. The changing lights of the Matterhorn…

Is it a bird?….is it a plane?….Has anyone visited Zermatt and wondered what the light actually is? At nightfall, three blue lights shine on the mountain stations above Zermatt and can be seen from the village towards Schwarzsee, Trockener Steg and Rothorn. The colour of these lights can be determined by simply dialling a number from your mobile phone, with the income from this going to a great cause. The light show was set up by the Yeti Club of Zermatt in collaboration with the Zermatt Bergbahnen AG and the Alpine Centre Zermatt in favour of mountain Guides of Zermatt and their families in case of death or invalidity through accident. This phenomenon is known locally as the Lumorama so if you are lucky enough to visit Zermatt….get dialling!

Matterhorn

Andy Castle is Director at Ski in Luxury.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Selma says:

    Very interesting back history on such a picture perfect mountain resort town. I have a thing for these places, so I am more determined than ever to see this place in my lifetime!

  2. I didn’t know the amazing statistics for Zermatt……..and the fifth one-the changing lights of the Matterhorn is really very interesting..

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