With its wealth of exceptional buildings and sights, the Engadin feels like one large museum. Visitors can link the different attractions via leisurely walks: a delightful combination of art, culture, magnificent scenery and fresh mountain air.
Large roofs, massive stone walls and ornate “sgraffito” decoration are the hallmarks of traditional old houses in the Engadin: the style is distinctive and unmistakable. Each house offers enough space under one roof for a stable, hayloft and storeroom as well as bedrooms and living areas. The heart of the house is the “Stüva”, a living room usually panelled in Swiss stone pine and often located directly above the stable, to take advantage of the animals’ body heat.
The facades of the houses often feature delicate drawings and patterns. These decorations are made using the sgraffito technique, whereby the shapes and figures are scratched into the plaster while still wet.
These traditional and picturesque Engadin houses can still be found throughout the region, making for villages of great charm. The best way to explore them is on a stroll through the narrow alleys, keeping an eye out for the many ornate details that adorn the historical facades.
Each village in the Engadin has its own church, Catholic or Protestant; most have more than one. These places of worship vary in style, age and size, but they are all worth a visit. The church of Sils-Maria, for example, dates from 1579 and was one of the first Protestant churches to be built in Graubünden; over in Celerina, the church of San Gian is a protected monument that owes its unusual and striking appearance to a bolt of lightning. In the churches of St. Charles and St. Maurice in St. Moritz, visitors should not miss the stained-glass windows, designed by the renowned Italian painter Enrico Leone Donati.
St. Moritz is scattered with statues, fountains and monuments that bring the town’s history to life. The street lamp opposite the Kulm Hotel, for example, recalls the first time electric light illuminated the Swiss night. This took place on 18 July 1879 in the dining room of the Kulm Hotel, run by Johannes Badrutt. A statue is devoted to him, too: Badrutt not only brought electricity and the sumptuous Kulm grand hotel to the Engadin, he also launched winter tourism here. How? He told a group of summer guests from England that the winter was so sunny they would be able to sit outdoors in their shirtsleeves. He made a bet with them: they should come back in winter to see for themselves; if he had exaggerated, he would repay their entire travel costs. Badrutt won the bet, the guests told everyone they knew – and winter tourism was born.