In the 19th century, Queen Margherita of Italy was a gifted mountaineer. During her visit to Zermatt in 1889, she climbed the Gornergrat and arranged for the construction of a mountain hut that still bears her name today.
Royal visit to Zermatt
In August 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy spent seven days in Zermatt. She and her entourage stayed at the Hotel Mont Cervin. Over the course of four days, the monarch went on a mountain tour on foot and on horseback and also crossed the Gorner Gorge.
On horseback to the Gornergrat
During her stay, Queen Margherita also visited the Riffelalp and the Hotel Riffelhaus. Not even the bad weather with snowfall up to the Gornergrat prevented the Queen from climbing the mountain on horseback.
On the way back to Italy, the delegation spent the night in the Refuge du Théodul and from there climbed the Breithorn, 4,166 metres above sea level. The next day she reached the Italian village of Gressoney in the Aosta Valley via the Theodul Pass.
Mountaineering accommodation at an altitude of over 4,500 m
In 1889, after Queen Margherita’s visit, the delegates’ meeting of the Club Alpino Italiano decided to build mountaineering accommodation and a research station on the Signalkuppe or Punta Gnifetti (4,554 metres above sea level), one of the peaks of the Monte Rosa massif.
In 1891, the 35-square-metre pitch pine building in Gressoney was provisionally assembled so that Queen Margherita – the donor of the hut – could officially name the building. When it was built in 1893 on the Signalkuppe, the hut was anchored in the rock and protected against lightning with copper cladding. On 18 August, the Queen climbed the Signalkuppe summit in person and spent the night in the hut.
Construction of the new Capanna Regina Margherita in 1980
In 1980 the Italian Alpine Club built today’s hut. Like its predecessor, the three-storey, double-walled timber construction was fitted with a copper jacket that shields the hut from electric fields, such as those that occur during lightning strikes. To this day, the mountain lodge houses scientific facilities for medical experiments at high altitude.