Lech am Arlberg - then and now

This community of around 1,465 inhabitants occupies an area of 90 km2 on a 1,450-1,717 m high plateau close to the source of the Lech. The imposing Lechtal Alps surround a typical pass landscape where several valleys have their source. Until tourism arrived, which was made possible by the building of the Flexen Pass between 1895 and 1900, the mountain farmers made their living exclusively from dairy farming and livestock breeding. In winter they were often cut off from the outside world, because the only routes into the high valley were mountain trails and cart tracks, which were highly vulnerable to the threat of avalanches. Lech, as the name given to the river first appears as "Licca" in a document dated 642 AD. A Middle Bronze Age winged axe has been found here which suggests that people were active here or migrated through the area even earlier than this. Rhaeto-Romanic river names such as "Flexen", "Gampa", "Zürs", "Pazüel" and "Monzabon" also point to early cultivation and hunting. In 1059 AD, Emperor Heinrich IV gave a large hunting area around the Widderstein to the Bishop of Augsburg and the area remained in the ownership of the church until 1814.

But it was without doubt the Walser people, who came from the Valais canton in western Switzerland, who settled long-term in the countryside along the young river Lech. They migrated there shortly before 1300 and cleared the mountain valley. Because they found many fir and spruce forests here, they named the area "Tannberg am Lech" (Tanne meaning a fir tree and Berg a mountain). The name of the location was shortened to "Lech" over the centuries.

The Walser people obtained the land as a fiefdom from the Swabian lords of the manor in exchange for a low natural interest. In order to persuade them to settle the barren mountainous region, particular rights and freedoms were granted to them. The Walser area also originally comprised the neighbouring communities of Schröcken, Hochkrumbach, Warth and the little Walsertal valley. This situation was reversed in 1806,during the course of the Napoleonic Wars, as Tyrol and Vorarlberg had to be ceded to the Kingdom of Bavaria  by 1814.

A new, more hopeful time of economic upturn began with the arrival of the sport of skiing. As early as 1906, the first ski course for locals was held in Zürs by Viktor Sohm. In the 1920s, Zürs, in particular, experienced a sudden economic upturn. By 1923/24 the first group ski courses for guests were held here. In 1937 the first drag lift in Austria was built in Zürs. The development of Lech was not far behind, but The upturn was soon to be interrupted by the global economic crisis of the 1930s and the Second World War. From 1949, international tourists started to arrive again, which led to an unexpectedly sudden upward trend, followed by a large programme of building. The fact that Lech became so well known in the international sporting world was due in no small part to the numerous top sports people who came from the community.

Enjoyable skiing in perfect conditions
The "Arlberg Card" gives you contactless access to every cable car in all 5 Arlberg locations and you can enjoy unparalleled skiing  on 305 km of ski runs and 200 km of deep powder snow runs. Guaranteed snow, from the end of November to the end of April, and unrivalled variety make this skiing region a home from home for winter guests from all over the world. The appeal of the mountain and the snow, and the fun they provide, is exceedingly powerful and everything in Lech Zürs am Arlberg revolves around them.

The world's best skiers
Those who spend their skiing holiday in Lech Zürs am Arlberg can count themselves among the best skiers in the world. Because the high level, and by that we don't mean its location between 1,300 and 2,800 meters above sea level, of skiing in Lech Zürs am Arlberg is unequalled worldwide. There are several reasons for this. No-one who has ever experienced a crystal-clear winter's morning on a freshly prepared piste or an untouched slope of deep powder snow, can escape the fascination, or the magic, of this area and the passion for skiing. The original constitution of the Arlberg Ski Club, founded in 1901, really makes this point best: "Enchanted by nature, inspired by sport, imbued with the need to create a humble meeting point in Arlberg for all friends of this noble pleasure, the excursionists involved in this impromptu Act felt moved to found the Arlberg Ski Club.” It is these regular guests who make the pilgrimage to Arlberg year after year, maintain true mountain friendships with innkeepers and ski instructors, and are driven to improve themselves continuously. Not least because the local people themselves see winter sport as a part of their identity and set them an appropriate example.

Best of the Alps

Twelve classic locations in the Alps have joined together to form the "Best of the Alps" group. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Cortina  d’Ampezzo, Davos, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Grindelwald, Kitzbühel, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Megève, St. Anton am Arlberg, St.  Moritz, Seefeld and Zermatt are the most famous winter sport and summer holiday venues in the Alps in five European alpine countries. These famous holiday destinations are market leaders in the holiday and leisure area and together guarantee you top quality. And they also see themselves as ambassadors for the whole alpine region. Twelve fantastic internationally famous and well-loved resorts, and all united by the fortunate circumstance of being located in one of the most heavenly landscapes on earth. More information at www.bestofthealps.com