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Zernez village
Zernez village
Coat of arms of Zernez
Coat of arms
Zernez is located in Switzerland
Coordinates: 46°42′N 10°06′E / 46.700°N 10.100°E / 46.700; 10.100Coordinates: 46°42′N 10°06′E / 46.700°N 10.100°E / 46.700; 10.100
Country Switzerland
Canton Graubünden
District Inn
 • Total 344.03 km2 (132.83 sq mi)
Elevation 1,474 m (4,836 ft)
Population (Dec 2014[2])
 • Total 1,139
 • Density 3.3/km2 (8.6/sq mi)
Postal code 7530
SFOS number 3746
Localities Brail, Il Fuorn, Ova Spin, Runatsch
Surrounded by Ardez, Lavin, Livigno (IT-SO), S-chanf, Susch, Tarasp, Tschierv, Valdidentro (IT-SO)
Website www.zernez.ch
SFSO statistics

Zernez is a municipality in the district of Inn in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

Zernez is a major node in the regional road network, with roads leading into the Upper Engadin and towards Italy, the Lower Engadin and towards Austria, over the Fuorn Pass into the Val Mustair and over the Flüela Pass. Zernez is the center for visitors of the Swiss National Park (Romansh: Parc Naziunal).


Zernez is first mentioned in 1131 as Gumpo de Ernece. In 1161-64 it was mentioned as Zarnetz though both references are found in a copy of the document from 1365.[3]


Zernez on an aerial photography by Walter Mittelholzer (1925)
Ofen Pass road

Zernez has an area, as of 2006, of 203.9 km2 (78.7 sq mi). Of this area, 8.1% is used for agricultural purposes, while 34.6% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 0.7% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (56.6%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains).[4]

The municipality is located in the Sur Tasna sub-district of the Inn district along the Ofen Pass road into the Engadin. It consists of the village of Zernez and the section of Brail.

Lai da Ova Spin is a compensation reservoir on the Spöl river. It is located in the upper areas of the lower Engadin valley (Romansh: Engiadina Bassa). It is located at an elevation of 1,473 m (4,833 ft) and is connected to the railway network of the Rhätische Bahn. In Zernez, the stream Spöl empties into the Inn (Romansh: En).


Zernez has a population (as of 31 December 2014) of 1,139.[2] As of 2008, 16.3% of the population was made up of foreign nationals.[5] Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 6.1%.[4]

As of 2000, the gender distribution of the population was 50.9% male and 49.1% female.[6] The age distribution, as of 2000, in Zernez is; 104 children or 10.8% of the population are between 0 to 9 years old. 68 teenagers or 7.1% are 10 to 14, and 58 teenagers or 6.0% are 15 to 19. Of the adult population, 102 people or 10.6% of the population are between 20 to 29 years old. 143 people or 14.9% are 30 to 39, 119 people or 12.4% are 40 to 49, and 162 people or 16.9% are 50 to 59. The senior population distribution is 104 people or 10.8% of the population are between 60 to 69 years old, 67 people or 7.0% are 70 to 79, there are 30 people or 3.1% who are 80 to 89, and there are 2 people or 0.2% who are 90 to 99.[5]

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the SVP which received 45.9% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SPS (23.4%), the FDP (20.6%) and the CVP (7.2%).[4]

In Zernez about 72.5% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[4]

Zernez has an unemployment rate of 1.89%. As of 2005, there were 72 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 22 businesses involved in this sector. 195 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 22 businesses in this sector. 334 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 65 businesses in this sector.[4]

The historical population is given in the following table:[3]

year population
1835 634
1850 603
1900 596
1910 1,075a
1950 739
2000 959
2010 1,140
^a Population increase due to railway construction


Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks (Rhaeto-)Romansh (61.1%), with German being second most common (31.3%) and Italian being third ( 4.4%).[4] The Romansh speaking majority speak the Vallader dialect. In 1880 there were 84% of the population spoke Romansh as their first language, in 1900 it was 79% and in 1941 it was 78%. In 1990 about 81% understood Romansh and in 2000 it was 80%.

Languages in Zernez
Languages Census 1980 Census 1990 Census 2000
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
German 207 22.50% 243 27.96% 300 31.28%
Romansh 645 70.11% 571 65.71% 586 61.11%
Italian 56 6.09% 41 4.72% 42 4.38%
Population 920 100% 869 100% 959 100%


Zernez has an average of 102.7 days of rain per year and on average receives 752 mm (29.6 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is August during which time Zernez receives an average of 103 mm (4.1 in) of precipitation. During this month there is precipitation for an average of 11.4 days. The driest month of the year is February with an average of 37 mm (1.5 in) of precipitation over 11.4 days.[7]


Heritage sites of national significance[edit]

The Reformed Church in Zernez, the Schloss Wildenberg (Wildenberg Castle), the Palazzo Bezzola and the Richtstätte/Galgen Fuorcha are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance.[8]

The church was first built in 1367. When the Protestant Reformation entered Zernez in 1553, the church was stripped of all the statues and paintings. Then, in 1609 the old church was replaced with a new baroque building, though the romanesque bell tower of the old church was retained.

The castle was built in the 12th Century but was rebuilt into a baroque castle later. Since 1956 it has served as the town hall.

Other sights[edit]

In addition to the four Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance, Zernez has several other notable sites. These include the gothic catholic chapel of St. Sebastian, the Morenturm, the Swiss National Park and park house, the abandoned tower of La Serra and in Brail, a medieval Reformed church.

The chapel of St. Sebastian stopped being used as a catholic chapel following the Reformation. In 1952 it was put back into service as a chapel. The Morenturm is a medieval tower house in the village. The Swiss National Park, as of 2009, is the only National Park in Switzerland. It has an area of 174.2 km2 (67.3 sq mi) and is the largest protected area of the country. It was one of the earliest national parks in Europe, being founded on 1 August 1914. The Nationalparkhaus in Zernez is a museum for the National Park. The tower of La Serra was built either in the 13th or 14th Century, though it could have been built as late as just before the Swabian War in 1495. During the Bündner Wirren (or Confusion of the Leagues) it was reinforced and a regiment from Schauenstein was stationed there. After the Confusion, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. In 1996–98 it was repaired and reinforced. Schloss Planta-Wildenberg, Mittelalterlicher Wohnturm mit barocken Nebengebäuden.


  1. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeindedaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  2. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistics Office – STAT-TAB Ständige und Nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach Region, Geschlecht, Nationalität und Alter (German) accessed 31 August 2015
  3. ^ a b Zernez in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 13-Oct-2009
  5. ^ a b Graubunden Population Statistics (German) accessed 21 September 2009
  6. ^ Graubunden in Numbers (German) accessed 21 September 2009
  7. ^ "Temperature and Precipitation Average Values-Table, 1961-1990" (in German, French, and Italian). Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology - MeteoSwiss. Retrieved 8 May 2009. , the weather station elevation is 1471 meters above sea level.
  8. ^ Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance 21.11.2008 version, (German) accessed 13-Oct-2009

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Zernez at Wikimedia Commons