Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Münster (CH)

On our way home from mountain-gaping in the Valais, we drove through the Goms. The Goms is neither a toothless old lady nor a paramilitary police force from the future, but a hilly region of the upper Rhone valley east of Brig – basically a string of tiny villages gathered along a ridge. (The Walsers, for which the canton Valais (Wallis in German) is named, settled in these high mountainous areas when the Romansch down below weren't looking and started to farm and raise cows.)

We paused in Münster in honor of our Munster (IN) buddies. We immediately loved this sweet little gathering of wooden houses and churches. Like the wood itself, it seemed settled in, undisturbed, contented with age.

We were perplexed by the purpose of the houses perched on stones – but it turns out these are actually "high Alpine barns."  This style of barn was developed by the Walsers, based on the structure of medieval granary storehouses.  The lower section, called a "gable forebay," was designed to increase hay storage and protect the door opening below from snow during long alpine winters. Raising the barn on stone pillars also helped prevent critters from accessing food stores. 

More on these clever Walsers here.


oijoyphoto - the husband said...

i couldn't love the wood and all it's glorious, aged patina more...
wish OUR munster had the same charm and character. *sigh*

Swiss Ms. said...

one day it will, o - th, one day it will.