St. Moritz

St. Moritz

St. Moritz
View of St. Moritz and the surrounding mountains from the hiking trail to Muottas da Schlarigna (Celerina)
View of St. Moritz and the surrounding mountains from the hiking trail to Muottas da Schlarigna (Celerina)
Coat of arms of St. Moritz
Coat of arms
St. Moritz is located in Switzerland
St. Moritz
St. Moritz
Country Switzerland
Canton Graubünden
District Maloja
 • Total 28.69 km2 (11.08 sq mi)
Elevation 1,822 m (5,978 ft)
Population (Dec 2014[2])
 • Total 5,233
 • Density 180/km2 (470/sq mi)
Postal code 7500
SFOS number 3787
Localities Champfèr
Surrounded by Bever, Celerina/Schlarigna, Samedan, Silvaplana
Twin towns Bariloche (Argentina), Kutchan (Japan), Vail (USA)
Website .ch.stmoritzwww
SFSO statistics

St. Moritz (German: Sankt Moritz; French: Saint-Moritz; Romansh:    ; Italian: San Maurizio) is a resort town in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. It is a municipality in the district of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The highest summit in the Eastern Alps, the Piz Bernina, lies a few kilometres south of the town. St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948. It is a popular destination of the upper class and international jet set, as well as one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Sport 3
  • Tourism 4
  • Main sights 5
  • Climate 6
  • Partner City 7
  • Demographics 8
    • Population 8.1
    • Politics 8.2
    • Education 8.3
    • Employment 8.4
    • Languages 8.5
  • Transportation 9
  • In popular culture 10
  • Gallery 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


St. Maurice, the town's Nubian namesake, depicted by Matthias Grünewald, 15th century.

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 town was named after Saint Maurice, an early Christian saint from southern Egypt said to have been martyred in 3rd century Roman 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 nature cures, spent some time in St. Moritz.

Baths in St. Moritz, ca. 1881

Although it received some visitors during the summer, the origins of the winter resort only date back to September 1864, when St. Moritz hotel pioneer, Johannes Badrutt, made a wager with four British summer guests: that they should return in winter and, in the event that the town was not to their liking, he would reimburse their travel costs. If they were to find St. Moritz attractive in winter, 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 the start of winter tourism in the whole of the Alps. The first tourist office in Switzerland was established the same year in the town. 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 town 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 in January 1931

In 1928 St. Moritz hosted the 1928 Winter Olympic Games and the stadium still stands today. It later hosted the 1948 Winter Olympic Games. St. Moritz has hosted over 20 FIBT World Championships, three FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (1934/1974/2003) 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 polo tournament (every year in February starting in 1985) and cricket (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.

Between 9–12 June 2011, St. Moritz was the site of the Bilderberg Group conference, an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America and Western Europe, most of whom are people of influence.


Lake St. Moritz

St. Moritz has an area, as of 2006, of 28.7 square kilometers (11.1 sq mi). Of this area, 28.2% is used for agricultural purposes, while 19.4% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 8.3% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (44.1%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains).[5]

The municipality is located in the Oberengadin sub-district of the Maloja district. It consists of the settlements of St. Moritz-Dorf (elevation 1,830 meters (6,000 ft)), Bad (ele. 1,775 meters (5,823 ft)), and Champfèr (ele. 1,825 meters (5,988 ft)) as well as the village section of Suvretta.


St. Moritz has been a town 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.

Cartier Polo World Cup 2008

St. Moritz was the host city for the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. It also hosted the 1934, 1974 and 2003 Alpine Skiing World Championships. It is one of three cities that have hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, the others being Innsbruck, Austria and Lake Placid, New York in the United States. Additionally, it has hosted the FIBT World Championships (bobsleigh and skeleton racing) a record 21 times. Since 1985, St. Moritz has hosted the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow; an annual high-goal tournament featuring many of the world's finest teams. In its current form, the tournament lasts four days and is played on a specially marked field located on the frozen lake.[6]

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 1722 meter long 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 '30s 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.[7] 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.[8]

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 3 continents. The event draws the world's best sailing teams to St. Moritz in a gladiatorial battle of nerve and skill on the water. 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. Match racing is an ideal sport for spectators in St. Moritz. Racing in such close proximity (approximately 15 m) to the Lake St. Moritz shoreline provides excellent heart of the action viewing for the audience.


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.

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

The year-round population is 5600, with some 3000 seasonal employees supporting hotels and rental units with a total of 13,000 beds and hosted the 2003 world championships for skiing.

Cresta Rider, by David Wynne (1985)

Main sights

Plazza da Scoula and St. Moritz library


St Moritz has an Alpine climate climate with cold, moderately snowy winters and mild, wet summers.

Climate data for Samedan village
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −2.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −9.4
Average low °C (°F) −18
Average precipitation mm (inches) 30
Average precipitation days 6.1 5.3 6.2 7.4 10.3 10.7 10.4 11.5 7.3 6.9 7.1 6.3 95.5
Source: MeteoSchweiz [10]

Partner City



St. Moritz has a population (as of 31 December 2014) of 5,233.[2] As of 2008, 38.0% of the population was made up of foreign nationals.[11] Over the last 10 years the population has decreased at a rate of 4.9%.[5]

As of 2000, the gender distribution of the population was 45.4% male and 54.6% female.[12] 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.[11]

Historic Population[3][12]
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 3079 3527
Italy 897 1162
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 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%).[5]


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).[5]


St. Moritz has an unemployment rate of 1.38%. As of 2005, there were 73 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 10 businesses involved in this sector. 900 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 55 businesses in this sector. 3,501 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 468 businesses in this sector.[5] The Badrutt's Palace Hotel (Five Star) has a staff of 520 persons and is the biggest employer in St.Moritz.


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%).[5] 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 13% of the population of St. Moritz even understood Romansh.

Languages in St. Moritz GR
Languages Census 1980 Census 1990 Census 2000
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
German 3092 52.41% 3186 58.72% 3286 58.79%
Italian 1608 27.25% 1157 21.32% 1220 21.83%
Romansh 569 9.64% 338 6.23% 264 4.72%
Population 5900 100% 5426 100% 5589 100%


St. Moritz is the highest town with a rail connection in Switzerland. Operated by the Rhaetian Railway, St. Moritz railway station (1,775 m) is located at both ends of the Albula and Bernina Railways. The Glacier Express and Bernina Express trains also stop at St. Moritz. The station is located on the lakeshore, at the bottom of Via Serlas.

Near the railway station is an important PostBus stop.

In popular culture

Norman Foster's Chesa Futura in St. Moritz
  • St. Moritz is featured in the opening scenes of The Man Who Knew Too Much, a 1934 thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • St. Moritz was mentioned in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger as a skiing resort. Also mentioned in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
  • In the Ian Fleming novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service the villain Blofeld uses Piz Gloria, a mountaintop facility in a resort near St. Moritz, as his base of operations. The real Piz Gloria is on top of the Schilthorn near Mürren.
  • St. Moritz is mentioned in the 1969 Peter Sarstedt hit "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)", where the song describes a Euro jet-setter who flies to St. Moritz during the winter.
  • St. Moritz is mentioned in the popular comedy play Private Lives, by Noël Coward, and in the Neil Simon comedy 45 Seconds From Broadway.
  • St. Moritz is the location of Kars hideout in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency.
  • St Moritz is shown in an episode of Smallville; where Lois Lane's sister is running from the mob.
  • St. Moritz is shown in a first season episode of Cheap Seats. The Sklar brothers riff an episode of Wide World of Sports from the '60s which showcased horse racing on a frozen Lake St. Moritz.
St Moritz


See also


  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 St. Moritz in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^ a b c d e
  5. ^ a b c d e f Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 20-Oct-2009
  6. ^ Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow
  7. ^ 1928 Winter Olympics official report. Part 2. pp. 8-10. (French)
  8. ^ 1948 Winter Olympics official report. pp. 6, 21, 23. (French) & (German)
  9. ^ Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance 21.11.2008 version, (German) accessed 20-Oct-2009
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Graubunden Population Statistics (German) accessed 13 February 2010
  12. ^ a b Graubunden in Numbers (German) accessed 21 September 2009

External links

  • St. Moritz official website
  • St. Moritz guide
  • St. Moritz tourism services
  • (German) (French) (Italian) (Romansh) St. Moritz municipality website
  • St. Moritz in Romansh, German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.