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The story of Celerina

The village with the charming centre.

As with most communes in the Upper Engadin, the first written mention of Celerina dates from 1139; originally called Tschlarina, it is now known in Romansh as Schlarigna, and in other languages as Celerina (from “Celler” = cellar). Already in the 16th century the commune had its own constitution, which regulated the affairs of the community and established the rights and duties of residents. The longer-established citizens had the final say in matters, obliging newcomers to learn Romansh and adapt fully to local customs. Today, new arrivals enjoy considerably more freedom. Holidaymakers, in turn, enjoy direct access to the slopes: like St. Moritz, Celerina lies at the foot of the Corviglia/Marguns ski area. The two resorts are also connected by another famous piece of the region’s scintillating history: the Olympia Bob Run. Thanks to regular jazz performances, the innovative hotels have given Celerina the reputation of “the New Orleans of the Alps”. Peace and tranquillity in nature, meanwhile, are to be found close by in the fairy-tale Staz forest.

Origins of the place name

In 1139 Konrad I of Biberegg, Bishop of Chur, purchased a large part of the Upper Engadine, roughly the area from Zuoz to Silvaplana. The Bishop ordered that his tithe throughout the Upper Engadine be collected by two families, one in Pontresina and one in Zuoz. He also commissioned the building of a cellar in Celerina on the slopes above the Schlattain (the stream which flows out of the Saluvertal valley). There he initially stored the meat that was collected, and later fish, too. The area around the cellar store was then called Surossa, a name it has retained to this day; it stems from the fact that the meat collected as tithe had to be de-boned there first before it was transported to Chur. Hence the place name Surossa (ossa = bone). Below this collection point the village began to grow along the north-eastern slope of the delta and was named Keller = Cellar. And thus the name Celerina came about; it is still called Schlarigna in Romansh today. Schler = cellar (in the Lower Engadine -valader- people say schler; here they say -puter- murütsch.)