Ausserberg in the canton of Valais is well worth a visit with its ancient wooden village centre. Easily accessible by train from Bern and Brig. Ausserberg is in the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site.
by Marc Gottwald
A village with an exciting history and lots of love
Many people pass Ausserberg on their Lötschberg hike or on the train journey from Bern to Brig. But very few people find out what a highlight the village is.
On a village tour we explore the ancient wooden houses. There are no tourists. There aren’t many locals to be seen either. “Many work at Lonza,” says Mr. Egli, who is unique in the village. “In the past, when there were no roads, the way to Visp to the Lonza even had to be made on foot. The workers were really fit,” he winks.
“The road has only existed since 1969. But a direct rail connection has been around for much longer,” he adds. I have to ask: “Most of the time the road is built first, why not here?”.
“It’s almost a robber’s story! There was a vote in the community as to whether they wanted funding for a train station with a rail connection (to Brig) or a road (towards Visp). The vote for the street was one vote apart. Why was the railway built first anyway? Because the then Mayor in Visp swept the result.”.
Houses made of slate bricks and larch wood
What kind of wood is used in the houses, I ask Mr. Egli. “Larch wood,” he replies in a flash. “In the fall we have a wonderful Indian summer here, with all these larches. Since the larches grow here, they were also used for building”.
The beautiful stone roofs are also striking. In the past, these were mainly made of clay slate or gneiss slate. What happens if a tile or an entire roof is broken?
Since a change in the law in the 1980s, all new roofs to be renovated must be fitted with flat stone tiles, as in the past. Since some houses were renovated before this law was passed, there are also wooden houses with normal bricks, as we know them from more modern buildings.
A roof renovation is very expensive. A new roof normally costs a whopping CHF 60,000. However, the bricks are no longer manufactured in Switzerland. They are imported from Italy or further afield. Therefore, the rock is mostly no longer slate, but granite.
The most important things in brief
- Romantic village with great hiking opportunities such as a bisse hike
- Easily and conveniently accessible by train from Bern
- The roofs and houses in the village center are listed
Arrival: Easily accessible by train from Bern or Visp. The post bus also runs regularly. Parking facilities are also available.
Food: In the Hotel Bahnhof Ausserberg you can eat very well at a fair price.