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The story of Silvaplana

Since the territorial division in 1538, the municipality of Silvaplana consists of Silvaplana and the fractions Surlej and Champfèr with Albana.

Silvaplana was first mentioned in 1288. In 1476, the judicial court of Funtauna Merla confirmed the existence of the three “neighbouring communities of Silvaplana, Surlej and Champfèr”. This union probably marked the beginning of the formation of the political municipality of Silvaplana, comprising Silvaplana and the two hamlets of Surlej and Champfèr.

In Silvaplana Romansh (Puter) is spoken. The language of the primary school is also Romansh up to the fourth school year. Due to the large increase in population (many families speaking other languages), the Romansh population is now in the minority. However, the federal government and the canton are making great efforts to preserve the Romansh language.


Today's Upper Engadin lake landscape was formed by the retreat of the glaciers. In former times the lakes of today were once connected with each other. The delta on which Silvaplana is built seems to have been formed by the bedload of a presumed landslide from the Julier, formerly Piz Munteratsch. On various properties, the same red rock was found as on the Julier Pass.

The delta divides the upper and the lower lake. At the narrowest point, a bridge connects Silvaplana with Surlej. The lower lake is again divided into two parts by a small peninsula called «Piz». The third and lowest lake in this chain of lakes is the actual Lake Champfèr.

Origin of the names

Silvaplana is probably best translated as «the plains of Sêla». Sêla is the name of the Inn from Lake Lunghin to the outlet of Lake St. Moritz (Charnnadüra). Only there the actual Inn begins. The vernacular, however, speaks of the Inn even before that.

Surlej is the Romansh term for above the lake.

Champfèr probably finds its origin in an iron field (ore exploitation at Piz Nair). In 1139 the village is called Campofare, in 1471 Campher and in 1519 Chiamfer (from Campus ferri). Another possible naming would be the fertile field via Campus ferox, fertilis, feroli. But perhaps Champfèr also got its name from a hemp field - Chanv'er?

The ibex in the coat of arms of the municipality of Silvaplana has been taken over from the municipal stamp. The blue base of the shield is the symbol of the lake.


In 1963, the opening of the Corvatsch cable car marks the beginning of a great upswing. The cable car brings income opportunities to the village population. In Surlej, where before the construction of the Corvatsch cable car there were only a few old Engadin houses and some ruins in the middle of the meadows, the vacation houses shoot up like mushrooms. This is also evident from the population figures: in 1645 Silvaplana with all its fractions had 312 inhabitants. Even in 1960 there are only 347 inhabitants. In 1970 there are suddenly 714 inhabitants (growth of 106%!). Due to this population growth, the old schoolhouse with its two classrooms soon becomes too small. In 1972 the new school building in Silvaplana is inaugurated.