A mountain village at the head of the Visp valley and at the foot of the Matterhorn, in the canton of the Valais, Switzerland. It is 223/4 m. by rail from Visp in the Rhne valley, and there is also a railway from Zermatt past the Riffel inns to the very top of the Gornergrat (10,289 ft.). The village is 5315 ft. above the sea, and in 1900 had 741 permanent inhabitants (all Romanists save 9, and all but 12 German-speaking), resident in 73 houses. Formerly Zermatt was called Praborgne, and this name is mentioned in the Swiss census of 1888.
Its originally Romance population seems to have been Teutonised in the course of the I5th century, the name Matt (now written Zermatt, i.e. the village on the meadows) first occurring at the very end of that century. Zermatt was long known to botanists and geologists only, and has an interesting though very local history. De Saussure in 1789 was one of the first tourists to visit it. But it was not till the arrival of M. Alexandre Seiler in 1854 that its fame as one of the chief tourist resorts in the Alps was laid, for tourists abound only where there are good inns. When M. Seiler died in 1891 he was proprietor of most of the great hotels in and around Zermatt.
The Matterhorn, which frowns over the village from which it takes its name, was not conquered till 1865, Mr E. Whymper and two guides then alone surviving the terrible accident in which their four comrades perished. The easy glacier pass of the St Thodule (10,899 ft.) leads S. in six hours from the village to the Val Tournanche, a tributary glen. of the valley of Aosta.