The name Samedan is one of the most puzzling village names, and many a linguist has torn his hair out in search of a conclusive derivation. Experts more or less agree that the "SUMM AD OENUM", which can be deciphered on old seals, is the basis of all interpretations. But is it simply a misspelled "SUM AD OENUM" (I am at the Inn)? More likely no. Then perhaps a derivation from "Summo d'En", (the uppermost on the Inn) or - related to this - from "summum Oeni" (the uppermost part of the Inn)? Accordingly, the name Samedan would mean nothing else than the prosaic "(The village) uppermost on the Inn". After all, this river is officially called "Inn" only from the Samedan valley on; the young river from its source is still called "Sela". The great importance of the river for the village is also evident in the municipal coat of arms, which shows a "golden river god in black with a golden oar and water vessel" (according to the Grisons armorial).
The settlement "Samadene" is first mentioned in documents in 1139, when the Grisons possessions of the Counts of Gamertingen were sold to the Bishop of Chur and therefore documented. The first record of the residential tower "La Tuor", which is used today as a cultural site, dates back to 1288, and the oldest document in the municipal archives dates back to July 5, 1327.
Originally, Samedan formed a territorial unit (market cooperative) with the other Upper Engadin valley communities. Ecclesiastically, it is one of the three old large parishes, which, in addition to Samedan itself, also includes the communities of Bever, Pontresina and Celerina. It is already becoming apparent that Samedan will establish itself as the main town of the region. And indeed: in 1462 Samedan becomes the seat of the lower jurisdiction and, as the main transhipment point on the mule-train route from Tirano to Schruns in the Montafon, it quickly matures into the service center of the Upper Engadin.
When the Swabian War smolders, the village burns down in 1499, but it soon gets back on its feet: The von Salis and von Planta families in particular attained considerable wealth, and their magnificent buildings still characterize the village today. The Thirty Years' War, however, brought renewed unrest to the Grisons, which, as the center of the passport policy of the great powers involved, became a theater of war.
The emigration takes on ever greater proportions: Until well into the middle of the 18th century, many families from Samedan live in the most famous cities in Europe and achieve fame and prosperity - mainly thanks to their confectionery art. The money saved by the emigrants flows ever more abundantly back to their homeland, so that trade and commerce boom there earlier and more strongly than elsewhere in the valley.
In the middle of the 19th century, tourism made its debut in Samedan with the construction of the Hotel Bernina. Soon, the first restaurant on Muottas Muragl was attracting guests, and in 1893, another tourist milestone was set with the opening of the Samedan golf course. Since 1895, the district hospital in Samedan has been taking care of the medical needs of the ever-growing local population and guests.
The connection to the railroad line of the Rhaetian Railway in 1903 marked the beginning, the construction of the airfield in 1934 and the numerous bus connections in all directions of the high valley round off the picture of the traffic junction that Samedan still is today.