Lech am Arlberg is a mountain village and an exclusive ski resort in the Bludenz district in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg on the banks of the river Lech. In terms of both geography and history, Lech belongs to the Tannberg district. In tourist terms, however, it is part of the Arlberg region. Lech is administered together with the neighbouring villages of Zürs, Zug, Oberlech and Stubenbach.
Lech was founded in the fourteenth century by Walser migrants from the canton of Wallis in Switzerland.
Until the nineteenth century it was known as Tannberg, but subsequently the full name “Tannberg am Lech” gave rise to the present name Lech.
The church of St Nicholas in Lech, which is thought to have been built in approximately 1390, was the parish church of the Tannberg administrative district, and there was also a Tannberg district court in Lech until the dissolution of the Tannberg district in 1806.
In recent years Lech has grown to become one of the world’s premier ski destinations and the home of a number of world and Olympic ski champions.
Lech is best known for its skiing (both on-piste and off-piste). It is well connected via mechanical lifts and groomed pistes with the neighbouring villages of Zürs, St Christof, St. Anton, Stuben and, with effect from the 2013/2014 winter, Warth and Schröcken – together they form the Arlberg region, the birthplace of the modern Alpine skiing technique and the seat of the Ski Club Arlberg. Lech is also the starting and finishing point for “Der Weisse Ring” (“The White Ring”), a circle of runs and lifts that is a popular tour and the scene of an annual race involving both experts and others.
Lech is a popular holiday destination for Royal families and celebrities, for example Tom Cruise, Diana, Princess of Wales, and the former Queen Beatrix and the Dutch Royal family. In August 2013, Beatrix’s son Prince Johan Friso died from complications 18 months after a serious injury in an avalanche while skiing in Lech.
The mountain holiday in the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary 2 was shot in Lech.
Although not as well frequented in the summer as it is in the winter, Lech nevertheless has much to offer the summer visitor, in terms of sporting, cultural, culinary and other activities. There are many premier hotels in Lech, as well as numerous top class restaurants.
One former well-known visitor was the writer Ludwig Bemelmans (author of the Madeline books), whose 1949 novel “The Eye of God” was set in a fictionalised Lech.
Lech has a number of points of cultural interest, including: