St. Moritz

Coordinates: 46°29′50″N 9°50′16″E / 46.49722°N 9.83778°E / 46.49722; 9.83778
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St. Moritz
Winter night in St. Moritz
Winter night in St. Moritz
Flag of St. Moritz
Coat of arms of St. Moritz
Location of St. Moritz
St. Moritz is located in Switzerland
St. Moritz
St. Moritz
St. Moritz is located in Canton of Grisons
St. Moritz
St. Moritz
Coordinates: 46°29′50″N 9°50′16″E / 46.49722°N 9.83778°E / 46.49722; 9.83778
 • Total28.69 km2 (11.08 sq mi)
(Traunter Plazzas)
1,822 m (5,978 ft)
 (31 December 2018)[2]
 • Total4,928
 • Density170/km2 (440/sq mi)
DemonymGerman: St. Moritzer(in)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (Central European Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (Central European Summer Time)
Postal code(s)
SFOS number3787
ISO 3166 codeCH-GR
LocalitiesSt. Moritz-Dorf, St. Moritz-Bad, Suvretta, Champfèr (eastern part)
Surrounded byBever, Celerina/Schlarigna, Samedan, Silvaplana
SFSO statistics

St. Moritz (/ˌsæn məˈrɪts/ SAN mə-RITS, US also /ˌsnt -/ SAYNT -⁠, UK also /sənt ˈmɒrɪts/ sənt MORR-its; German, in full: Sankt Moritz [zaŋkt moˈrɪts, ˈmoːrɪts] locally [saŋkt]; Romansh: San Murezzan [sam muˈʁetsən] ; Italian: San Maurizio;[a] French: Saint-Moritz) is a high Alpine resort town in the Engadine in Switzerland, at an elevation of about 1,800 metres (5,910 ft) above sea level. It is Upper Engadine's major town and a municipality in the administrative region of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

St. Moritz lies on the southern slopes of the Albula Alps below the Piz Nair (3,056 m or 10,026 ft) overlooking the flat and wide glaciated valley of the Upper Engadine and eponymous lake: Lake St. Moritz. It hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948.


St. Moritz with Kulm Hotel c. 1870. Etching by Heinrich Müller

Votive offerings, swords, and needles from the Bronze Age found at the base of the springs in St. Moritz indicate that the Celts had already discovered them. St. Moritz is first mentioned around 1137–39 as ad sanctum Mauricium.[3] The village was named after Saint Maurice, an early Christian saint from southern Egypt said to have been martyred in the 3rd century by Maximian in Switzerland while serving as leader of the Theban Legion.

Pilgrims traveled to Saint Mauritius, often to the church of the springs, where they drank from the blessed, bubbling waters of the Mauritius springs in the hopes of being healed. In 1519, the Medici pope Leo X promised full absolution to anyone making a pilgrimage to the church of the springs. In the 16th century, the first scientific treatises about the St. Moritz mineral springs were written. In 1535, Paracelsus, the great practitioner of natural remedies, spent some time in St. Moritz.

St. Moritz in January 1931

Although it received some visitors during the summer, the origins of the winter resort only date back 160 years ago to September 1864, when St. Moritz hotel pioneer Caspar Badrutt made a wager with four British summer guests: they should return in winter and, if the village was not to their liking, then he would reimburse their travel costs. If they were to find St. Moritz attractive in winter, then he would invite them to stay as his guests for as long as they wished.[4] This marked not only the start of winter tourism in St. Moritz but also the start of winter tourism in the whole of the Alps. The first tourist office in Switzerland was established the same year in the village. St. Moritz developed rapidly in the late nineteenth century; the first electric light in Switzerland was installed in 1878 at the Kulm Hotel, and the first curling tournament on the continent was held in 1880.[4] The first European Ice-Skating Championships were held at St. Moritz in 1882 and first golf tournament in the Alps held in 1889. The first bob run and bob race was held in 1890. By 1896, St. Moritz became the first village in the Alps to install electric trams and opened the Palace Hotel.[4] A horse race was held on snow in 1906, and on the frozen lake the following year. The first ski school in Switzerland was established in St. Moritz in 1929.[4]

St. Moritz hosted the 1928 Winter Olympics—the stadium still stands today—and again in 1948. It has hosted over 20 FIBT World Championships, four FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (1934/1974/2003/2017) and over 40 Engadin Skimarathons since 1969. It has also hosted many other events since, including some unlikely ones on the frozen lake in the 1970s and 1980s such as a golf tournament, (1979), a snow polo tournament (held every year in January since 1985) and Cricket on Ice (1989).[4] St. Moritz has also been the venue for many Sailing and Windsurfing World Championships.

Since the early 1980s St. Moritz is also promoted and known as Top of the World. The expression was registered as a trademark by the tourist office in 1987.


St. Moritz from above

St. Moritz has an area (as of the 2004/09 survey) of 28.69 km2 (11.08 sq mi).[5] Of this area, about 26.3% is used for agricultural purposes, while 20.0% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 9.0% is settled (buildings or roads) and 44.8% is unproductive land. In the 2004/09 survey a total of 160 ha (400 acres) or about 5.6% of the total area was covered with buildings, an increase of 23 ha (57 acres) over the 1985 amount. Over the same time period, the amount of recreational space in the municipality increased by 3 ha (7.4 acres) and is now about 1.15% of the total area. Of the agricultural land 149 ha (370 acres) is fields and grasslands, and 643 ha (1,590 acres) consists of alpine grazing areas. Since 1985 the amount of agricultural land has decreased by 37 ha (91 acres). Over the same time period the amount of forested land has increased by 33 ha (82 acres). Rivers and lakes cover 91 ha (220 acres) in the municipality.[6][7]

The highest summit in the Eastern Alps is Piz Bernina at 4,048.6 m (13,283 ft), located 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of the village.

Before 2017, the municipality was located in the Oberengadin sub-district of the Maloja district, after 2017 it was part of the Maloja Region. It consists of the settlements of St. Moritz-Dorf (elev. 1,830 m or 6,005 ft), Bad (1,775 m or 5,825 ft), Champfèr (1,825 m or 5,990 ft), and the village section of Suvretta.


Cartier Polo World Cup 2008

St. Moritz has been a resort for winter sport vacations since the 19th century. Students from Oxford and Cambridge went there to play each other; the predecessor of the recurring Ice Hockey Varsity Match was a bandy match played in St. Moritz in 1885. St. Moritz was the host city for the Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and 1948, one of three cities to host twice, along with Innsbruck, Austria, and Lake Placid in the United States. It also hosted the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 1934, 1974, 2003, and 2017.

Additionally, St. Moritz has hosted the FIBT World Championships (bobsleigh and skeleton racing) a record 21 times. Since 1985, it has hosted Snow Polo St. Moritz, a tournament featuring many of the world's finest team and played on a specially marked field on the frozen lake.[8]

St. Moritz is extremely popular in the summer months as an altitude training base for distance athletes, particularly cyclists, runners, and race walkers. Its popularity extends to the altitude, weather, world class athletics track, and availability of paths and trails in the area.

In 1904, the oldest and world's last remaining natural bob run was opened. The 1.72 km (1.07 mi) ice channel – also known as the world's biggest "ice sculpture" – is built every winter from the ground up with only snow and water. The bob run hosted numerous world championships and was used in both Olympic Winter Games. In the early 1930s, some members of the bob club started taking guests along for taxi rides; today they run with slightly modified racing bobs.

For the 1928 games, the cross-country skiing and the cross-country skiing part of the Nordic combined events took place around the hills of St. Moritz.[9] Twenty years later, once again the cross-country skiing, the cross-country skiing part of the Nordic combined, and the ice hockey events took place in St. Moritz.[10]

In addition to the above sports, St. Moritz is also well known as a destination for sailing. It is the host venue for the annual St. Moritz Match Race held on lake St. Moritz. The St. Moritz Match Race event is part of the prestigious World Match Racing Tour which covers three continents. The identical supplied (BLU-26) boats are raced two at a time in an on the water dogfight which tests the sailors and skippers to the limits of their physical abilities. Points accrued count towards the World Match Racing Tour and a place in the final event, with the overall winner taking the title ISAF World Match Racing Tour Champion.

Sailing on Lake St. Moritz


The Badrutt's Palace Hotel is considered the birthplace of winter sports[11]

Thanks to its favorable location, St. Moritz enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year. Every winter it hosts the "White Turf" horse race on the frozen Lake St. Moritz attended by the international upper class. Prominent property owners in St. Moritz included Sonja Ziemann, Gunter Sachs, Herbert von Karajan, Lakshmi Mittal, Ivan Glasenberg, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ingvar Kamprad, Helmut Horten, Giovanni Agnelli, Aristoteles Onassis and Stavros Niarchos.

Popular pastimes include skiing, snowboarding, and hiking, and nearby there is also the world-famous Cresta Run toboggan course.

The year-round population is 5,600, with some 3,000 seasonal employees supporting hotels and rental units with a total of 13,000 beds. The Kulm Hotel St. Moritz is a large luxury hotel in St. Moritz.

Main sights[edit]

Plazza da Scoula
and St. Moritz library


St. Moritz has a subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc) due to its particularly high elevation near to the tree line. It has cool summers coupled with cold nights and very cold, snowy winters with highs around freezing and 254 cm (100 in) of average annual snowfall. The average temperature, about 2 °C (36 °F; measured in the nearby town of Samedan), is extremely low compared to that of the Swiss Plateau. It is also significantly lower to that of La Brévine, traditionally considered the coldest inhabited place in Switzerland.

Climate data for Samedan (Reference period 1991−2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −1.3
Daily mean °C (°F) −8.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −15.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 29
Average snowfall cm (inches) 51
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5.2 4.2 4.3 6.0 9.2 11.0 10.6 11.0 8.0 8.1 7.9 6.1 91.6
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 8.8 8.0 6.9 5.1 1.1 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.5 2.6 6.7 9.5 49.5
Average relative humidity (%) 78 73 70 69 70 71 71 75 76 77 79 80 74
Mean monthly sunshine hours 120 121 147 150 164 186 199 181 155 138 103 102 1,767
Percent possible sunshine 59 58 56 51 48 52 58 57 58 57 51 52 55
Source: MeteoSwiss[13]



St. Moritz has a population (as of 31 December 2020) of 4,945.[14] As of 2008, 38.0% of the population was made up of foreign nationals.[15] Over the 10 years up to 2009 the population decreased at a rate of 4.9%.[16]

As of 2000, the gender distribution of the population was 45.4% male and 54.6% female.[17] The age distribution, as of 2000, in St. Moritz is; 423 children or 7.6% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 502 teenagers or 9.0% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 960 people or 17.2% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 1,055 people or 18.9% are between 30 and 39, 864 people or 15.5% are between 40 and 49, and 820 people or 14.7% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 532 people or 9.5% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 289 people or 5.2% are between 70 and 79, there are 121 people or 2.2% who are between 80 and 89, and there are 23 people or 0.4% who are 90 and older.[15]

In 2014 there were 2,822 private households in St. Moritz with an average household size of 1.84 persons. Of the 884 inhabited buildings in the municipality, in 2000, about 29.1% were single family homes and 40.8% were multiple family buildings. Additionally, about 19.9% of the buildings were built before 1919, while 8.6% were built between 1991 and 2000.[18] In 2013 the rate of construction of new housing units per 1000 residents was 9.32. The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2015, was 3.18%.[7]

Historic Population[3][17]
year population
1803 183
1850 228
1900 1,603
1910 3,197
1950 2,558
1960 3,751
1970 5,699
1980 5,900
1990 5,426
2000 5,589
Population by nationality (Census 2000)
Nationality Number
Without dual-citizens
Including dual-citizens
Switzerland 3,079 3,527
Italy 897 1,162
Portugal 435 445
Germany 202 232
Serbia-Montenegro 106 108
Austria 74 104
France 56 73
Croatia 62 63
Spain 33 41
United Kingdom 30 41
Netherlands 17 29
Bosnia-Herzegovina 27 28


In the 2015 federal election the most popular party was the FDP with 31.0% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SVP (27.0%), the BDP (15.1%) and the CVP (11.0%). In the federal election, a total of 1,428 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 54.1%.[19]

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the SVP which received 34.9% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the FDP (24.5%), the SP (22.4%), and the CVP (17%).[16]


In St. Moritz about 65.8% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[16]


St. Moritz is a regional economic centre and a tourist community.[20] As of  2014, there were a total of 7,590 people employed in the municipality. Of these, a total of 24 people worked in 7 businesses in the primary economic sector. The secondary sector employed 1,039 workers in 74 separate businesses. A minority (17.0%) of the secondary sector employees worked in very small businesses. There were 22 small businesses with a total of 533 employees and 3 mid sized businesses with a total of 329 employees. Finally, the tertiary sector provided 6,527 jobs in 768 businesses. In 2014 a total of 3,820 employees worked in 752 small companies (less than 50 employees). There were 14 mid sized businesses with 1,928 employees and 2 large businesses which employed 779 people (for an average size of 389.5).[21] The Badrutt's Palace Hotel (Five Star) has a staff of 520 persons and is the biggest employer in St. Moritz.

In 2014 a total of 9.3% of the population received social assistance.[7]

In the second quarter of 2016 an average of 1,062 workers commuted from outside Switzerland to work in the municipality, representing a minority of the employees.[22]

In 2015 local hotels had a total of 599,734 overnight stays, of which 69.2% were international visitors.[23] In the same year there was one movie theater in the municipality with 267 seats.[24]


Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (58.8%), with Italian being second most common (21.8%), and Portuguese being third (6.6%).[16] Originally, the entire population spoke the Upper-Engadin Romansh dialect of Puter. Due to increasing trade with the outside world, Romansh usage began to decline. In 1880, only 50.2% spoke Romansh as a first language. Romansh lost ground to both German and Italian. In 1900, 31% of the population spoke Italian as a first language, and in 1910, it was about the same. In the following years, the percentage of Romansh and Italian speakers both decreased against German speakers. In 1941, only 20% spoke Romansh, and in 1970 it was 8%. In 2000, only 4.7% of the population spoke Romansh.[25]

Languages in St. Moritz GR
Languages Census 1980 Census 1990 Census 2000
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
German 3,092 52.41% 3,186 58.72% 3,286 58.79%
Italian 1,608 27.25% 1,157 21.32% 1,220 21.83%
Romansh 569 9.64% 338 6.23% 264 4.72%
Population 5,900 100% 5,426 100% 5,589 100%


St. Moritz is a regional hub for trains and buses

St. Moritz is the highest town in the country with a railway station. St. Moritz railway station is situated in the centre of the town, near the lakeshore and at the bottom of Via Serlas. It is operated by the Rhaetian Railway, and is the terminus for Albula and Bernina railway lines. The Glacier Express and Bernina Express trains stop at St. Moritz.

Near the railway station is an important Swiss PostBus stop.

The St. Moritz–Corviglia funicular links St. Moritz with the Corviglia summit and ski area.

In popular culture[edit]

Norman Foster's Chesa Futura in St. Moritz

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Outdated; usually replaced by the German name.


  1. ^ a b "Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeinden nach 4 Hauptbereichen". Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Ständige Wohnbevölkerung nach Staatsangehörigkeitskategorie Geschlecht und Gemeinde; Provisorische Jahresergebnisse; 2018". Federal Statistical Office. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b St. Moritz in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^ a b c d e "History". Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  5. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeindedaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  6. ^ "Arealstatistik Land Use - Gemeinden nach 10 Klassen". Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 24 November 2016. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Regional portraits Archived 8 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine accessed 27 October 2016
  8. ^ "The Cradle of Snow Polo". Snow Polo World Cup. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  9. ^ 1928 Winter Olympics official report. Archived 17 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Part 2. pp. 8-10. (in French)
  10. ^ 1948 Winter Olympics official report. Archived 10 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine pp. 6, 21, 23. (in French and German)
  11. ^ "The Thrill of Winter Sports in the Alpine Resort of St. Moritz". Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  12. ^ Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance Archived 2009-05-01 at the Wayback Machine 21.11.2008 version, (in German) accessed 20-Oct-2009
  13. ^ "Climate Normals Samedan (Reference period 1991−2020)" (PDF). Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss. 13 January 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Ständige und nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach institutionellen Gliederungen, Geburtsort und Staatsangehörigkeit". (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office - STAT-TAB. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  15. ^ a b Graubunden Population Statistics Archived 2009-08-27 at the Wayback Machine (in German) accessed 13 February 2010
  16. ^ a b c d Swiss Federal Statistical Office Archived 5 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20-Oct-2009
  17. ^ a b Graubunden in Numbers Archived 2009-09-24 at the Wayback Machine (in German) accessed 21 September 2009
  18. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB - Thema 09 - Bau- und Wohnungswesen Archived 2 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine (in German) accessed 5 May 2016
  19. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Nationalratswahlen 2015: Stärke der Parteien und Wahlbeteiligung nach Gemeinden Archived 2016-08-02 at the Wayback Machine (in German) accessed 18 July 2016
  20. ^ "Die Raumgliederungen der Schweiz 2016" (in German, French, Italian, and English). Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 17 February 2016. Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  21. ^ Federal Statistical Office -Arbeitsstätten und Beschäftigte nach Gemeinde, Wirtschaftssektor und Grössenklasse Archived 5 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine accessed 31 October 2016
  22. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Cross Border Workers Archived 2 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine accessed 27 October 2016
  23. ^ Federal Statistical Office - Hotellerie: Ankünfte und Logiernächte der geöffneten Betriebe Archived 5 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine accessed 31 October 2016
  24. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Kinoinfrastruktur nach Gemeinde und Kinotyp Archived 2016-09-26 at the Wayback Machine (in German) accessed 9 August 2016
  25. ^ "Wohnbevölkerung mit Hauptsprache Rätoromanisch, 2000". Statistical Atlas of Switzerland. Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 2000. Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2020.

External links[edit]