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With the majority of Switzerland's internationally famous resorts in the country's far west or south eastern corners, ancient Engelberg in the canton of Obwalden stands out alone in the centre of the country. The first hotels appeared here in the 1850s and winter sports not long after, but the village had been dominated for many centuries before then by the impressive Benedictine monastery, established in the early 12th century and still operational today, with about 34 monks in residence. The people of Obwalden have always had a reputation for their independent spirit, and the Swiss Confederation was established very near here. Although a village with a population of around 4,000, Engelberg's long standing status as a holiday resort means that the architecture is of the grand Swiss model with old and new architecture meeting in a generally pleasing way and giving the feel of a small town, rather than a large village. The surrounding classic Alpine mountain scenery rises up to 2000 metres above the village creating a spectacular backdrop. The impression of size is underlined by the list of facilities the resort offers, which would normally only be found within a large town or even a small city. As is increasingly common with Swiss ski centres, Engelberg mixes the best of old fashioned standards of service and quality with the latest in new technology on the mountain, including the already legendary rotating 'Rotair' cable car/tram, which ascends to 3020 metres (10,000 feet) to access skiing on the Titlis glacier. Engelberg has always been at the cutting edge of technology; the first electric rail line in Switzerland was installed here. At the top station of the Titlis Rotair there is a tunnel through the glacier, where an ice bar sometimes operates and at the far end of which you find yourself in another canton (equivalent to walking in to a different State in North America).

A historic isolated village which grew up around a Benedictine monastery (established in 1120). The monks brought skiing here early in the twentieth century . The Rotair, the world's first revolving cable car is here, as is the Titlis where the nearby Ice flyer 6 seater chair opened in 2000.

Mountain

Engelberg's 82km (51 miles) of trails range over a 2000 (6560 feet) metre vertical, the longest trail from the Titlis glacier back down to the resort at 12km (8 miles ) long. This is the main section of Engelberg's skiing and is reached initially by the Gerschnialp gondola and then the Trübsee cable car . The base station is half-a -mile (800 metres) from the village centre so it's best to take the ski bus if you do not have your own transport (large carpark). Most of the runs are of intermediate standard with beginner areas dotted around the mountains. Although nearly all the skiing is lift-linked it is broken in to mostly small areas spread all over the mountains with single meeting points, rather than being a fully interwoven network of trails. The Brunni cable car which leaves from the other side of Engelberg, but nearer the centre, serves lower altitude and mostly gentler slopes beneath Brunni. There is a popular children's snow play area here. Experts will find most to entertain them on the Titlis, from which a steep black leads down to the base of the Rotair cable car at Stand. There are also some excellent piste runs down Laub beneath Titlis when the snow is right: a guide is essential to make the descent safely. 24 hour TV gives slope conditions, with cameras at key points around the ski area showing live pictures. Cross country skiers have a good choice of trails around the valley. The Ski Jumping World Cup takes place on the 120 metre Titlis jumping hill in late December, it's the largest ski jumping hill in Switzerland and the only Swiss stop on the FIS World Cup tour.

Families

Plenty for children to enjoy in Engelberg, and traffic is not a danger thanks to its location at the head of the valley. Apart from the swimming and ice skating children enjoy the toboggan run and of course the revolving cable car! In common with most Swiss resorts daycare for children begins at age 2 in the village kindergarten, with baby sitters available to look after younger children (contact the tourist office). The Ski Kindergartens offered by the ski school is available for booking from half a day to 5 days with lunchtime supervision if required. Older children can take snowboarding instead of skiing if they prefer. Families buying an adult and two child tickets, or more receive a 10% discount.

Eating Out

Most of the 55 or so restaurants around Engelberg are hotel based and offer traditional Swiss fayre to a high standard. The mountain huts also offer a wide range of top class dining opportunities at the stand station, at 2450 metres en route to Titlis. The Fürenalp mountain restaurant is a good choice for sampling local specialities.

Apres

There are up to ten night spots to choose from, with the Spindle disco a perennial favourite and the bar at the Eden Bar is also popular. There are always big parties at the Yucatan Tex Mex restaurant with 50% evening from 5 to 6pm. If you fancy something different you'll find Europe's hiughest bar on the titlis at 3020m. For Folklore visit the Bänklialp restaurant on Wednesday or Saturday evenings.

Boarding

The main snowboarding attractions are on the Jochpass where a terrain park is established when the conditions are right. 'Boarders also head for the glacier, especially in the spring and autumn 'summer skiing season' when a fun park is created on the Titlis Glacier.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
2000m
Ski area
82
Resort height
1050m
Airport
Zürich
Train station
Engelberg
beginner
34%
intermediate
57%
expert
9%