The Engadine (in German Engadin, in Romansch Engiadina) is the valley of the Inn (in Romansch En), enclosed between mighty mountain chains and flanked by flower-spangled Alpine meadows and magnificent forests of larch and stone pine on the steep hillsides. The village houses are solid white-washed structures, often with sgraffito decoration, painting, handsome oriel windows or elaborate window grilles. The population is Rhaeto-Romanic and predominantly Protestant. Since 1938 the old Ladin place-names have been in official use.
Culture and Landscape
There is a very worthwhile driving tour which takes in the main sights of Engadine, including the Swiss National Park, Upper and Lower Engadine, Guarda and Ardez.
Upper to Lower Engadine
From the Majola pass (1,815 m/5,955ft), the boundary between the Engadine and the Val Bregaglia, the road runs northeast through the Upper Engadine, with its clear air and extensive views, to the international resort of St Moritz and two smaller resorts, popular both in summer and in winter, Celerina, where the road to the Bernina pass branches off, and Samedan. It then continues to La Punt (road on left to Albula pass) and the old-world village of Zuoz, once the chief settlement in the Engadine. Beyond S-chanf it runs through a defile at Puntota to enter the Lower Engadine, where the valley becomes narrower and more densely forested.
Swiss National Park
After passing through Zernez, where the road through the Swiss National Park to the Ofen pass and the Stelvio pass diverges to the right, the Engadine road turns north for 6km/4mi to reach Susch, where the road to Davos over the Flüela pass branches off on the left.From here we continue down the Lower Engadine, running under the south side of the magnificent Silvretta group, with a series of wild side valleys nestling on its sunny southern slopes.Throughout the centuries the old Imperial road (Reichsstrasse) avoided the impenetrable valley and ran through the upper villages.
A narrow side road leads via steep hairpin bends to the linear village of Guarda (1,653 m/5,425ft, pop. 179), which was awarded the Wakker Prize in 1975 for its harmonious architecture.
The inns and guest houses of Guarda provide a prime example of the traditional Engadine house, which from the 14th C. has combined both house and stable under one roof. The "Suler" (passage) below the round arched doorway serves as the entrance to the "Tablà" (barn) and the lobby to the living-room, with the "Stüva" (parlor, lounge), the "Chadafö" (kitchen), and the "Chaminada" (pantry). Above these last two rooms are the bedrooms ("Chombra"), access to which is usually via stairs from the parlor. In addition there is a winch and more "Giodens" or "Gebens" (rooms) for the young men. Occasionally there is a finely paneled upper room.The external appearance is characterized by the mortar-colored walls with inward-sloping window openings and a large door. The influence of neighboring Tirol is clearly visible in the fascinating and varied wall decorations. Every style is reflected from Gothic to Roccoco and Neo-classical to Naïve, and typical decorative features include oriel windows, window grilles and heraldic animals.
The hamlets of Lavin (1,430 m/4,693ft, pop. 200) and Ftan-Pitschen have wonderful farmhouses in Engadine style.
Bad Scuol-Tarasp-Vulpera to Martina
Leaving Lavin, the valley opens up again, and the road reaches the Bad Scuol-Tarasp-Vulpera group of resorts, with Tarasp Castle on its precipitous crag dominating the scene. Beyond Scuol the valley becomes wilder and more solitary, with the few villages (Sent, Ramosch, Tschlin) perched high above the road on the green meadows on the sunny side of the valley. The scenery becomes still more forbidding in the wooded Finstermünz defile beyond the last Swiss Village (Martina), in which, at the hamlet of Vinadi, the old frontier fortifications can still be seen. Here a boldly engineered road leads into the Samnaun valley, where secluded villages attract many visitors both in summer and in winter.The road now crosses the Austrian frontier into Tirol and continues down the Inn valley, between the Samnaun group and the western ridge of the Ötztal Alps. After passing through Stuben-Pfunds and Prutz it comes to Landeck, where it meets the road from the Arlberg pass.
Engadine Concert Weeks
Between early July and mid-August, Engadine opens its churches and concert halls to a host of European musicians and groups. Classical concerts and recitals are the focus of this festival.
This ancient custom and children's festival takes place annually on the first day of March.
Sils Maria - Nietzsche House
Documents, photos and memorabilia relating to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche including his death mask are found in this house that Nietzsche once rented.