Pontresina (Romansch Puntraschigna), once a mere village on the road to the Bernina pass and now a popular health resort, climbers' base and winter sports capital, lies in a sheltered spot in the highest side valley of the Upper Engadine, on a natural terrace facing southwest.
It is surrounded by forests of stone pines and larches and enclosed by the majestic peaks of the Alps.The two famous skiing areas of Diavolezza and Piz Lagalp make Pontresina a popular winter sports center. There are about 500km/310mi of walks in the region. Guided tours of the glaciers are popular with climbers as are the nature walks. Golf, fishing, tennis, ice-skating, long-distance skiing, curling and tobogganing as well as winter sports and summer skiing are some of the activities on offer.Pontresina first appears in the records in 1129, but evidence has been found of human settlement here dating back to the Bronze Age. The name has been thought to derive from one Saracenus who built a bridge here. (Pons Sarasinae).
Pontresina has some elegant hotels from the Belle Epoque period, typical stone houses with sgraffiti and window grilles. The Punt Ota bridge is of 12th C. origin. In the Laret district the village church (Protestant) was built in 1640.Between Piz Rosatsch and Piz Chalchagn a beautiful glimpse of the Roseg valley and Roseg glacier can be enjoyed. Near here is a plant reserve with an Alpine garden.
Church of Santa Maria
On the hillside above Ober-Pontresina are the ruins of the pentagonal Spaniola tower and the little Romanesque church of Santa Maria, with a ceiling of stone pine (1497) and frescoes of the 13th-15th C. The west wall was part of the previous building and retains wall-paintings from the 13th C. (God's appearance, The Baptism of Christ and the Last Supper). The life of Christ is depicted from the south wall to the north.The church is popular for weddings.
Mineral and bird collections and a winter sports exhibition are contained in this house, Pontresina Museum Alpin, typical of the area.
Address: Via Maistra, CH-7504 Pontresina, Switzerland
Opening hours: Jan 15 to Apr 15: 4pm-6pm
Jun 15 to Oct 31: 4pm-6pm
Dec 1 to Dec 31: 4pm-6pm
Jun 15 to Oct 31: 4pm-6pm
Dec 1 to Dec 31: 4pm-6pm
Entrance fee in CHF: Adult CHF7.00, Child CHF1.00
Useful tips: Opening seasons may vary. Contact office for more information. Also open by appointment, for groups.
Pontresina is surrounded by Alps and glaciers which offer outstanding panoramas and climbing opportunities.
Muottas Muragi (Alp Languard)
Ascent of Muottas Muragl: 3km/2mi from Pontresina on the St Moritz road a funicular (length 2,200 m/7,218ft, gradient 13-54%) takes 15minutes to reach Muottas Muragl (2,453 m/8,043ft; restaurant), which commands the finest view of the Bernina group and the lakes of the Upper Engadine.A good return route is by a path which skirts the Schafberg to the Unterer Schafberg restaurant (one hour) and on to the Alp Languard (2,250 m/7,382ft; 45minutes); then by chairlift (skilift) or on foot (45minutes) to Pontresina.
Schafberg (Munt della Bes-cha)
The Schafberg (Munt della Bes-cha, 2,731 m/8,960ft) is reached from Pontresina in 2.75 hours by way of the Unterer Schafberg restaurant (2,230 m/7,317ft), from which there are magnificent views.On the summit, which has a prospect embracing the whole of the Bernina group, is the Segantini hut, with a tablet commemorating the painter Giovanni Segantini, who died here in 1899.
Roseg Glacier (Vadret da Roseg) is reached by a narrow road (6km/4mi; closed to traffic; horse-drawn carts) which leads up the Roseg valley to the Roseg-Gletscher restaurant (2,000 m/6,562ft). From this point it is a 30-45 minutes' walk under a fine row of stone pines to the end of the glacier, now much reduced in size. From here it is a 2.25 hours' walk to the Fuorcla Surlej and the Murtel station on the Corvatschbahn.
Morteratsch Glacier (Vadret da Morteratsch)
Morteratsch glacier (Vadret da Morteratsch) can be reached from Pontresina by following the Bernina road 4.5km/3mi to a little road on the right which leads to the Morteratsch Hotel (1,908 m/6,260ft). From here it is an hour's walk to the end of the glacier.
A superb view of the Morteratsch glacier can be had by climbing Chünetta (2,096 m/6,877ft; 35minutes).
Boval hut (Swiss Alpine Club)
Possible climbs from the Boval hut (to be undertaken only with a guide) include Piz Morteratsch (3,751 m/12,307ft; 4.5-5 hours; easy, for those with a good head for heights), with superb panoramic views; Piz Palü (3,905 m/12,812ft; six-seven hours), a beautifully shaped peak; and Piz Bernina (4,049 m/13,285ft; seven-eight hours, very strenuous). Ascent of the Diavolezza on foot from the Morteratsch Hotel or by cableway from Bernina-Suot. Another rewarding climb from Pontresina is the ascent of Piz Languard, to the east (3,268 m/10,722ft; four hours), with fine views. There is a restaurant 15minutes below the summit.Cableways can be taken to the Diavolezza (summer skiing) and Piz Lagalb.