Zermatt is proud of its Old Village, home to more than 30 buildings constructed in the traditional style of the barns and stores of the upper Valais. Many sit on flat stone slabs balanced on stilts to keep out mice. Wonderful for photographers!
The old part of the village of Zermatt, known as the “Hinterdorf” (rear village), is a delight to explore. The barns, stores, stables and old houses built between the 16th and 18th centuries form a harmonious whole. A stroll through the narrow alleys feels like a trip back in time.
Tough larch timber The buildings are made of larch, the tree that dominates Zermatt’s surroundings. Rich in resin, the timber is particularly resistant to pests. The houses are roofed with heavy slabs of rock, which compress the timber supporting it and make the construction more robust still. Sunshine and weather darken the wood, and over the course of many years it turns black. As a result, the building becomes much more effective at absorbing and storing heat.
Barn: for keeping hay; one door
Store: for keeping food such as dried meat; usually four doors. One section, individually accessible, per family
Photo subjects: barns, stores and stables, some more than 500 years old
Guided village tours in German, English, French (details from Zermatt Tourism)
Autobiographical novel by Hannes Taugwalder from Zermatt (see “Reading”)
Zermatlantis, the Matterhorn Museum: original interiors and furnishings from old houses
Reading “The Lost Valley” by Hannes Taugwalder, published by Glendyn Verlag, Aarau, available from ZAP bookstore, Zermatt.