17 December 2013

Matter Valley..



Date of Issue : 14 November 2013

Swiss Post issue a Miniature sheet on famous Matter Valley. The issue is perfect for this winter time !! The Matter Valley  is located in southwestern Switzerland, south of the Rhone valley in the canton of Valais. The village of Zermatt is the most important settlement of the valley, which is surrounded by many four-thousanders, including the Matterhorn.

This valley where 29 four-thousand-metre peaks line the course of the Matter Vispa river is a “must” for mountain lovers! And there is plenty to discover here, in the “deepest valley of the Alps”.

The 30-kilometre journey through the so- called Nikolai Valley begins in Stalden, at the confluence of the Matter and Saaser Vispa rivers. The first steam train trav-elled from Visp to Zermatt in 1891, taking passengers on a two-and-a-half hour trip, confined to the summer months, through wild, romantic scenery along the Matter Vispa.

The railway began operating all year round from 1929 following electrifi-cation of the track. Today, this same train journey takes just 50 minutes but the experience remains totally electrifying.


Valley of records

Near Grächen which enjoys nearly 300 sunny days per year, annual rainfall is just 550 mililitres (compared with Zurich’s 1200 or so millilitres), the lowest recorded in Switzerland. Visperterminen is home to Europe’s highest vineyards, producing rare wine varieties, like the eminently quaffable Heida, at altitudes up to and over 1,000 metres above sea- level.

Above Gspon near Staldenried, forests of stone pines defy the harsh climatic conditions, growing at altitudes of up to 2,400 metres, making it the highest timber line in Switzerland! Besides the many four-thousand-metre mountains that shelter it, the Matter Valley’s south-facing orientation also influences its climate. Did you know, for instance, that Zermatt is on the same latitude as Lugano?

The height difference in the Matter Valley is almost 4,000 metres, ranging from Stalden (at 795 metres) to the Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif, the highest point at 4,634 metres above sea-level. And it is precisely this 3,839-metre height difference that has earned the Matter Valley its nickname of the “deepest valley in the Alps”.

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