The History of Lech and Zurs
Lech and Zurs are renowned for the fur coats, champagne and Royal visits, however these resorts have not always been like this. We are going to go back in time to see what Lech used to be like.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor
The earliest traces of settlement in Lech and Zurs trace back to the 1300s when Swiss emigrants from the Walser regions decided to look for new pastures due to over crowding and exorbitant land taxes in their homeland. From the early 1300’s, they began to build and develop a small community in Tannberg am Lech (they shortened the name to Lech over the next few centuries). Original buildings from this time can be seen in Burgstegg as well as in Zug. The Hotel Tannbergerhof and Krone also date back to these times.
Initially a purely farming community, the inhabitants of Lech would leave their animals to graze on high-alpine pastures during summer and live off the animals during the winter. The animals would live on the ground floor and farmers on the first floor.
Winters were harsh and the farmers would have to withstand 5 months with no access to villages or towns in the valley. The animals also struggled during this time as they were locked inside for the winter.
The settlement was constant at around 100 people for many centuries until the turn of the 20th century, with the invention of skiing. It was the vicar in Warth who had read an article in a Norwegian paper about attaching wooden planks to your feet to help with walking in the snow.
After being ridiculed by his neighbours, they soon came to realise how effective skiing was.
Viktor Sohm, a man from Bregenz (a town not far from Lech) was the first man to choose to walk up a mountain with the planks of wood; this was the birth of alpine skiing as we know it.
Hannes Schneider, a later pupil of Viktor Sohm’s and who then himself went on to found the oldest ski school in the world, the Arlberg Ski School, said ‘ I owe everything I have achieved in my skiing to Herr Sohm’, a fitting tribute to the first great pioneer of the Arlberg. The first ski race of 1906 and the opening of the first ski school in 1925 have made Lech-Zurs am Arlberg famous as the birth place of Alpine skiing.
Nowadays Lech’s world-renowed hospitality, well established traditions and sophisticated sense of tranquillity attract ski fans from all over the world to this winter sports paradise at 1450m to 2450m above sea level- one of the 12 members of the exclusive ‘Best of the Alps’ group.