On Mondays, the Leukerbad Tourism Office conducts tours of the resort (free for LBC + cardholders). During an organized walk, tourists can get acquainted with the main attractions of the village and its history. This service also allows you to navigate the area at the very beginning of the holiday (the majority of guests arrive on Saturday, so on Mondays such an excursion is very relevant).
Since everyone in our group spoke different languages, the guide had to constantly jump from German to French, and then also translate everything into English.
Sabrina began with a brief insight into the history of this wonderful place. She said that a small village, which climbed to a height of 1,411 meters, appeared thanks to its magical water: about the local hot springs in the 2nd century BC. the Romans heard and stalked the path to the healing baths through the Gemmi Pass.
In the XIII century, the settlement bore the name “Boez” and was part of Lake, and its inhabitants spoke French. In the XIV century, the village became independent, the first mention of terms appeared in the documents. In the 15th century, a mule road was built connecting Lake and Leukerbad, the first inns appeared, and the place received a new official name – “Baden”. Then the hot springs of Leukerbad were described by Paracelsus. Once in the beginning of the 16th century, under the influence of the German bishop Mattheus Shinera, who first began to develop the resort as a thermal one, Leukerbad changed his official language: it became German.
Meanwhile, Sabrina led us to the building of one of the three public thermal complexes – Volksheilbad. Here in 1556, at the initiative of the bishop, the first terms for common people appeared. Since the aristocracy did not want to wash their feet in the same bath with the poor and the sick, they allocated a separate place in the resort for the latter.
Now Volksheilbad consists of a wellness center, where there is a small pool with unfiltered thermal water, a foot bath, saunas and an infrared cabin, as well as cabinets for massages and various therapeutic manipulations, and the building of a boarding house located across the street.
Traditionally, people with disabilities come here for treatment and rehabilitation, whose holiday in Leukerbad is paid once or twice a year by an insurance company.
The next stop of our excursion procession is near the oldest building in Leukerbad, located on Dorfstrasse street (this is where the old village is located). It is a preserved animal barn dating back to 1690. Opposite him there are two more houses made of blackened from time to time tree: one looks quite simple (this is an extension for livestock), and the other, the owner’s one, is covered with skillfully made wooden scales. As the guide explained, this design served as protection from the wind: the small scales that decorated the facade of the building covered the gaps between the boards and did not let the cold air inside. Here is such a practical beauty! By the way, one local enthusiast, keen on history, marked many old houses in Leukerbad: on each he wrote a white paint date for the construction, so you will walk along this street – look for four white numbers on the facades.
Another feature of local architecture is the hut on the legs (not only on the chicken ones, but on the wooden-stone ones). These are storage facilities for grain, which were thus lifted from mice, and for greater reliability, they also blocked possible rodents’ loopholes with huge boulders installed between the piles and the house itself.
There are not so many such constructions in Leukerbad, as the land was not very suitable for growing grain, but in the neighboring village of Albinen there are plenty of similar houses on piles.
From the observation deck, opposite the Tea Room, we look at the path leading to the seemingly impregnable mountain Gemmi, which, according to the guide, was built in 1739-1741 for trading purposes: through the Gemmi pass you could get to Milan two days).
Since then, many celebrities have walked this path: Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Guy de Maupassant, Mark Twain, Lenin and Pablo Picasso.