Spa, Leukerbad Tourist Attractions
The well-known spa of Leukerbad (in French Loèche-les-Bains) lies amid the green Alpine meadows of a south-facing basin situated in a valley on the north side of the Upper Rhône on the route to the Gemmi pass. Leukerbad can be reached by the ordinary road from Leuk or by a romantic little by-road which winds its way up from Sierre via Salgesch. From the highway a daringly engineered path with eight rough wooden ladders up a 100 m/328ft rock face leads to the mountain village of Albinen.This high-altitude resort was known to the Romans; in modern times the earliest reference to the village - then known as Baden - dates from 1315. The scattered settlement has grown up around its 20 or so thermal springs; the old wooden houses of the village are on the right bank of the River Dala, the hotels and spa establishments on the left.The water (containing lime and sulfur, 51 deg C/124 deg F; temperature of baths 28-41 deg C/82-106 deg F) is efficacious in the treatment of rheumatism, gout and paralysis; there is an open-air pool with thermal water as well as several indoor pools; polio clinic. Cableways and a magnificent sports center. Leukerbad is now popular both as a summer and a winter sports resort.
The Torrentbahn runs from Leukerbad and the Albinen ladders to the Rinderhütte (2,315 m/7,596ft). From the Hotel Torrenthorn (2,462 m/8,078ft) it is a 1.5-hour climb to the summit of the Torrenthorn (2,998 m/9,836ft), from which there is a superb panoramic view taking in twenty 4,000 m/13,124ft peaks.
Gemmiweg (hiking path)
The Gemmiweg, a path hewn from the rock in 1737-40, runs along a rock face with a sheer drop of 600 m/1,969ft, and is recommended only to those with a good head for heights. A cableway (length 1,984 m/6,510ft, height difference 935 m/3,068ft, time five minutes) runs up to the Gemmi pass (2,316 m/7,599ft), from which a bridle-path runs along the shores of the Daubensee and then down to Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland.
Leuk Stadt (town)
At the mouth of the Dala gorge, above the Rhône, is Leuk Stadt (725 m/2,379ft; pop. 2,800), a little market town and district administrative capital which was once the summer residence of the Bishop of Sion. Features of interest include a Late Gothic tower (1541-43) once occupied by a local government official, the viztum; the bishop's castle (first mentioned in 1254); the late 15th C. parish church of St Stephan (R.C.); and the former residence of the de Werra family (16th-17th C.).
The Ringacker Chapel, on a natural terrace south of Leuk Stadt, is the finest Baroque building in the Valais (1690-94). The interior of this single-naved church is richly decorated in stucco and its monumental altar was completed at the beginning of the 18th C.