The surface of the Schwarzsee (“black lake”) is indeed often very dark, even black. Beside the lake, which lies in a small hollow, stands a chapel dedicated to “Maria zum Schnee” (“Our Lady of the Snows”). According to legend, the chapel has its origins in a promise. Two people from Zermatt had lost their way in the fog near the Theodul Pass. They pledged that if they were saved, they would build a chapel.

Thanks after an ascent of the Matterhorn To this day, climbers who reach the summit of the Matterhorn visit the chapel afterwards to give thanks for a successful ascent. The trail to the Hörnli hut (Hörnliweg, Nr. 27) leads just above the lake (only for hikers with a sure foot and good head for heights).

  • Annual celebration of the patron, “Maria zum Schnee”, 5 August

  • 5 August: mass at 6am and 8.30am, main mass with choir at 10am

  • 5 August: additional services of the Matterhorn Express to Schwarzsee (on request from the lift company, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG, tel. +41 27 966 01 01)

  • 5 minutes’ walk from the Schwarzsee gondola station

  • In winter, located beside the pistes

  • Interesting geology: the Matterhorn and the African tectonic plate with igneous and sedimentary rocks

  • Photo subject in summer: reflection of the chapel on the dark surface of the lake

Reading “Alpine flowers around Zermatt”, by Hanspeter Steidle, published by edition punktuell, Herisau, 2009. Bilingual German/English, ISBN 978-3-905724-15-8

“The Alps and our Planet – The African Matterhorn: a Geological Story”, by Michel Marthaler, published by Editions L.E.P., 2005, ISBN 978-2-606-01155-0