Running along one of the most scenic routes of Switzerland, the Glacier Express connects the Alpine towns of Zermatt and St Moritz. Contrary to its name, the train runs at a rather leisurely pace. Taking eight hours to cover a distance of just under three hundred kilometres – it’s a journey that’s undertaken not so much to get from one end to the other, but to appreciate the marvellous landscapes of the Swiss Alps.
At the highest point along its route, the tracks run 2033 m above sea level and the miles of craggy peaks on either side are covered in a white blanket.
As the train descends down the Oberalp Pass, remote mountain villages slowly come into view. Many of the houses in this region are built using traditional timber-framing techniques and are topped by pitched roofs that prevent accumulation of snow. Another characteristic of these mountainous settlements are the many church-spires that pierce through the townscapes and dominate the surroundings.
As the Glacier Express winds its way through the Domleschg Valley, it passes countless castles that were built in this region to control the strategic mountain passes that cut across the Alps. Further along the route is the Landwasser Viaduct, an engineering marvel and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Rhaetian Railway.
The Viaduct was built back in 1902 and its sturdy limestone arches let the Glacier Express run a staggering 20-storeys above the valley level.
Just as the evening sets in, the train pulls into St Moritz, its final terminus stop and a famed ski-resort since the late 19th century. The town is acknowledged as the birthplace of winter Alpine tourism and has long attracted visitors from across the world. It’s no wonder then that St Moritz boasts of a smattering of modern architecture, including projects by Oscar Niemeyer and Norman Foster.
Text And Photos By Kunal Bhatia