Old Zermatt

Until the mid 19th century Zermatt was a poor rural village whose inhabitants earned a scarce living working the land. Visitors were rare. Then the Alps were discovered by intrepid explorers and the upper classes, and one by one the mountains were climbed. In response to the influx of the first tourists, Dr Lauber, Zermatt’s village doctor, opened a small hotel in 1838. In 1865 the Matterhorn – believed unclimbable by many – was finally climbed. It was a triumph that turned to tragedy as four of the seven who reached the summit fell to their deaths on the descent. Only Edward Whymper and the two Zermatt guides: Peter Taugwalder, father and son, survived. It was the Matterhorn that made Zermatt famous and continues to drive its popularity and fame. Click here to read my post about Whymper, the Monte Rosa Hotel and the Matterhorn

IMG_5867_wpSkiing tends to be a full-time occupation, if the weather is good. Resorts become dormitories from which people depart as soon as possible in the morning and return to in the late afternoon. Perhaps pausing, on the way down, for an après-ski drink before returning to their hotel or chalet for a relaxing bath, shower or swim in the hotel’s pool before dinner.

_DS78623_wpHard-core skiers will see little of their resort, other than where they are staying, and a few bars along the way. All resorts have modernised and developed massively over the years, but they all have history, which is still evident if you take the time to wander down the back streets and narrow alleys: and Zermatt is no exception. It will be time well spent.

IMG_5859_wpDown those back alleys you will find some of the original buildings – dwellings and hay barns (Stadels). Click here to see a previous post of a hay loft.

IMG_5870_wpThe timbers are weathered, the buildings lean, there’s hardly a straight line in sight. This is how it once was. This is the true Zermatt – a village that was hewn from the trees of the forest, whose inhabitants eked out a meagre existence in the shadows of the great mountains.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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12 Responses to Old Zermatt

  1. oneowner says:

    Thanks for sharing these photos, Andy. It’s unlikely I’ll ever visit so it’s nice to know what I’m missing. Great shots of a beautifull part of the world.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. I would be happy to go to Zermatt every summer and winter for the rest of my life. It’s like a second home and I never tire of the scenery.

  2. Len says:

    The way you processed these images really conveys the age of these buildings Andy.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Len. Nowadays I run most of my images through Topaz Adjust and then Topaz Detail. It’s a rather lazy approach I know but the combination delivers punchy images when I need them without too much effort.

  3. Chillbrook says:

    I love wood, in all its forms and incarnations. These buildings are beautiful and your photos convey that brilliantly Andy!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. The timbers in these old buildings really have a wonderful weathered quality to them. Some of it becomes silvery grey, some almost looks charred.

  4. Jim Nix says:

    wow, very cool and lovely textures here!

  5. I just love those textures and details in the naturally weathered wood Andy! This is definitely a place I could spend a lifetime shooting. Terrific set, my friend, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  6. Pete Buckley says:

    The old part of the village is full of charm – well captured. I Love Zermatt but not so keen on all those new apartments.

    • LensScaper says:

      I agree Pete. Zermatt has expanded phenomenally in recent years. Some of the new build is good, a lot of it not quite in keeping with the heart of the village. Thanks for your comment.

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