|• Mayor||Paul Greiter|
|• Total||59.6 km2 (23.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,429 m (4,688 ft)|
|Population (1 January 2013)|
|• Density||18/km2 (47/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Serfaus is a small town located on a plateau in the upper Inn valley in Tyrol, Austria. It is well known for its connection to the Ski-Area "Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis" and its tiny subway system, the Dorfbahn Serfaus. With four stations and a length of 1280 m it allows for a complete ban of cars within the town, while at the same time maintaining the village's attractiveness to tourists, particularly skiers. The municipality teamed up with the two nearby municipalities of Fiss and Ladis to form the ski resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.
The oldest findings of civilisation in the region of Serfaus are from the Bronze Age. The remains of a 3200 year old fireplace on the Komperdell, a nearby high alpine meadow, indicates that the area was used as a pasture or hunting ground. More archaeological research was undertaken at the "Zienerbichl", discovering remnants of the Late Antiquity and Middle Ages.
Pre-Roman field names and some Celtic traces still hint at the early settlers in this region. Ancient historians described the area as Raetia and its inhabitants as Raeti. However, with the conquest of the area by the Romans about 15 BC the Roman and Raetic cultures began to mix, creating the Romansh people. The Romansh language, which is still spoken in some parts of the Swiss Canton Graubünden, has survived in many of the regional field names. In the 6th century the German speaking Bavarii started to inhabit the plateau, gradually extruding the Romansh from day to day language.
The village itself was first officially mentioned in the 11th century. The towns of See and Kappl in the Paznaun valley were partly settled through Serfaus. Till 1891 See was also part of the rectory of Serfaus, which led to the fact that there is still a graveyard for citizens of See in the village of Serfaus. Other important cultural landmarks include the pilgrimage church of St. Georgen. Built in the Middle Ages it is one of the oldest churches in the region.
1942 fourteen houses were destroyed by a fire, which left 16 families (a total of 89 people) without home and caused a damage of about 650.000 Reichsmark. The village was rebuilt after the Second World War, also allowing the new buildings more space in contrast to the old structure of a clustered romansh village.
To cope with the increase of traffic due to a growing tourism in the region, Serfaus banned private traffic in winter in the 1970s. For the transportation of guests (and especially Skiers) a bus service was established. In order to enable an even quieter and more environmentally friendly way of transportation, the subway system, the Dorfbahn Serfaus went into operation in 1985. The use of the underground is free of charge and over its course of 1280 m it has 4 stopps (Parkplatz, Kirche, Raika, Seilbahn) and can transport up to 1500 people per hour.
As Serfaus is close to the Via Claudia Augusta and the Reschen Pass people are thought to have traveled through the area for hundreds of years. Moreover the marian pilgrimage which has been taking place since the Middle Ages has caused some travel to and from the mountain village. The Theresian Cadasdre of 1776 lists Johannes Penz with the "right to operate a tavern". By 1812 the inhabitants of Serfaus were asked to pay an extra tax for the loging of foreigners in their taverns of private rooms. This shows that tourism was already present at these times, even if still only in its most basic form.
Shortly after 1900 Skiers started to discover the possibilities in the region and in 1912 plans were made to build a little ski hut on one of the high alpine meadows surrounding the village, the "Kölnerhaus" up at the "Komperdell". However during the First World War and the following 1920s the tourism developed very slowly. Tourism between the two world wars reached its peak in 1931/32 with 30,000 registered guests. As a result the three taverns could not provide enough accommodation anymore and farmers started to rent out private rooms to guests of the region. Thus Serfaus had 150 registered beds in 1930. 1940 cable car for transporting goods to the "Kölnerhaus" was installed and was turned into an aerial tramway seating five people, in 1951. This caused a new increase of tourism in Serfaus and through the constant renewal and expansion of the infrastructure and the connection to the lifts of Fiss-Ladis the ski area now covers 190 km of pistes through 70 lifts. Today the town is one of the most popular ski and holiday areas in Tyrol.
Alleged occurrences of antisemitism
In 2009, first reports emerged claiming that several hotels and apartments in Serfaus were rejecting bookings from orthodox Jews. The existence of such a policy was confirmed by Haus Sonnenhoff, a hotel located in the village center. By 2010, the subject gained further attention when German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that a concierge at Hotel Schalber had been dismissed for having admitted Jews, once the owner, a local real estate tycoon, had learned about the religion of recently checked-in guests. Within the inhabitance of Serfaus, there are reported causes of hostilities towards those who admit Jews. Several hotel owners have given orders to deny possible Jews any bookings, based on racial profiling. On the other hand the town is also very popular with orthodox Jews, due to accommodations and other businesses which are specialized on their needs (separate preparation of milk and meat dishes, kosher food in the supermarket etc.).
- Statistik Austria - Bevölkerung zu Jahres- und Quartalsanfang, 2013-01-01.
- Klien, R., Tschuggmall, A., Klien, G.R. (2002) "Der Tourismus", in Klien, Robert, Serfaus, (Serfaus 2002), p. 445 - 461.
- 'No Jews' policy employed at Austria hotel Haaretz 10/05/09
- Article in Sueddeutsche Zeitung (German) on alleged antisemitism
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