The Most Beautiful Car-Free Town In The World: Zermatt
By Hema Vaishnavi:
How could one possibly imagine a ‘paradise’ to be? The mind does paint the picture of a place that is pure as the driven snow, and as fresh as the daisies, given the amount of pollution we see these days.
Now, what makes this particular place so special and beautiful? There begins our story. Situated at the foot of the beautiful Alps, the Matterhorn to be specific, this place does not have cars anywhere around up to a radius of several kilometres. Rightfully said, Zermatt in Switzerland happens to be one of the best car-free places around the world. With no cars in and around this tourist town, there is a shuttle train; the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway which takes the passengers directly from Täsch to the centre of the village. While electro-buses, electro-cars and horse driven vehicles, or the ‘Bergbahnen’ line give you a spectacular view of the panoramic Matterhorn, locals say that reaching most destinations on foot is an absolute delight.
View of the Matterhorn from the town of Zermatt
Also, to prevent air pollution, there is no private traffic allowed between Täsch and Zermatt. Now, that’s one city that is absolutely devoted to keeping the environment clean and green by keeping the amount of pollution to a minimum, and in an effort to do so, the town authorities have explored further eco-friendly options of transport, such as coasters, funiculars, metros, moving sidewalks and gondolas. No wonder, some environmentalists hail this place as the absolute ‘pollution-free’ zone. This beautiful German speaking town has a lot in store for those adventure seekers out there. This resort town aims at accommodating the needs of professional and intermediate level skiers and also offers slopes for students and regions for snowboarders. The place is full of snow all-round the year and with an expanse of 21 kilometres of piste on Zermatt’s Theodul glacier, the place finds itself filled with national alpine ski teams from all over Europe.
This exotic tourist destination marks the coming of autumn with its very own Zermatt festival which comprises a film festival, contemporary art and artistic performances with a mesmerized audience in participation. World-class musicians were never so close, and concerts are held up to altitudes of around 2,222 metres!
Something unique about this town would be the store houses in Valais that stand on wooden posts with stone plates. Another something that makes this place every sanctimonious than it already is, is the Catholic cemetery of the Anglican Church of St. Peter’s dedicated to those who have lost their lives while climbing the Matterhorn and in the other mountains of Zermatt. The town is filled with archaic museums, churches and chapels, and a happening joint ‘Zermatt Unplugged’, where young artists gather to celebrate life. And something that adds to the enigma of the place is the exploration through the tiny 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. Zermatt is indeed a must visit!
Photo Credit: Sumedha Bharpilania