The Charm of a Cosy Mountain Chalet
Our much-loved cosy mountain chalet – ever thought about the history of those charming wooden mountain retreats? The term “chalet” comes from the Latin word cala (“protected location”). It originates from the French part of Switzerland, where it was used to describe a simple mountain farmers cottage. Besides breathtaking panoramic views, traditional chalets also remind us of simplicity, wooden logs, beams and the sound of creaking low ceilings. Originally, these cottages were characterized by a few small windows or hatches through which the smoke of the fire stove escaped. The smoke blackened and hardened the wood. For centuries, locals lived in such simple dwellings and passed them on from generation to generation.
The History of the Mountain Chalet
The oldest wooden residential house in Europe, called “Bethlehem House” is now over 700 years old and is located in Switzerland’s city of Schwyz. It was still occupied until the 1980s and is now a museum. More historic wooden houses are also the “Old Chalet” in the Bernese town of Wilderswil built in 1574, or the “Grande Maison” in Rossinière that was completed in 1756 and is located in the Vaud canton. It is one of the largest inhabited wooden structures in Europe. And let’s not forget the famous “Swiss House” in the Anholter nature park (1892). Close to the three-country border with Holland, this became a unique example of the passion for alpine living. It was Prince Leopold of Salm-Salm who – with fond memories of his honeymoon – gave the order to relocate the chalet from Switzerland to its new location. The Prince was trying hard to replicate the scenery of the Swiss Lake of Lucerne. The two story building was completely disassembled in Switzerland and reassembled in its new location. What sounds like a lot of effort was quite common in the Middle Ages. Dismantling a house and rebuilding it elsewhere was apparently even cheaper.
The Growing Popularity of the Mountain Chalet
By the late 19th century, tourism started to flourish in Switzerland and, with it, came an increased interest in mountain chalets. They became an alternative to conventional single-family houses, especially in the holiday home market and far beyond Switzerland’s borders. To this day, urban dwellers still dream of a cosy cottage or mountain chalet where they can spend their weekends and holidays and it comes as no surprise that chalet-style houses are always in high demand. Meanwhile, there are countless possibilities, both simplistic or luxurious, regarding the design and build of such a wooden house.
PS : If you fancy discovering the charm of a mountain chalet for yourself, take a look at the wide selection of over 400 Chalets in Switzerland, ready for your next holiday.