On the trail of Engadin sgraffito art

On the trail of Engadin sgraffito art - Tradition

'Sgraffiti' is the name of the art form that is very much a part of the unmistakable charm of Engadin villages. A lot of the 'scratched' drawings have fallen prey to the climate, renovations and alterations since the heyday of sgraffito art between the middle of the seventeenth and the middle of the eighteenth centuries. But if you set out to learn more about this amazing art form, you will be rewarded on the south terrace of Lower Engadin: the trail starts in the "Bell for Ursli" village and ends in the Graubünden open-air museum.

Sgraffito art in the award-winning "Bell for Ursli" village

Your journey with the Rhaetian Railway takes you through the deep gorges of the Graubünden mountain landscape to the lush meadows of the Inn valley. This is home to one of the most beautiful villages of the area: Guarda. The station is a good thirty minutes on foot below the centre of the village; a post bus travels up from the station to the "Guarda, cumün" stop every half hour. In 1975, Swiss Heritage awarded Guarda the Louis-Wakker Prize for exemplary preservation and care of the village. Thanks to the fact that the ancient farmhouses have been looked after very carefully, the sgraffiti have been regularly restored ever since. Time stands still in the almost completely preserved village centre: there is plenty to discover in the winding lanes and on historical footpaths. Not only the numerous façade paintings will strike you: whoever has read the famous children's book "Schellenursli" ["A Bell for Ursli"] by Selina Chönz and Alois Carigiet will remember stories from their childhood with every house, fountain and corner of Guarda. 

Overlooking the awesome mountain world

The hike goes eastwards from Guarda to Bos-cha. This is a small hamlet at the same altitude as Guarda, although it already belongs to Ardez. From Bos-cha, you have a clear view over the expanses of Lower Engadin as well as the majestic Dolomites, with the castle of Tarasp presiding at their foot. Always in view: the landmark of Ardez, the ruined castle Steinsberg. After around one hour and 20 minutes, you start walking past the first farmhouses from Ardez.

Ardez: the open-air museum and model village of Lower Engadin

Embedded between the crystalline masses of the Silvretta Alps and the Dolomites of Lower Engadin is Ardez, one of the oldest villages in the area. Apart from the ruined castle Steinsberg, the village is well known for its nativeness. Just like Guarda, Ardez also won an award in 1975: in the European architectural heritage year, Ardez was deemed to be an exemplary village. The historic village centre that has hardly changed since 1622 is particularly worth seeing. So it is no surprise that virtually every façade in Ardez still bears a sgraffito today. In the numerous pretty lanes, visitors can discover a large number of picturesque Engadin houses with the typical sgraffiti.

Via Engiadina long-distance hiking trail

Discover the Lower Engadin Panorama Trail – with organised transport of luggage – in five stages. This summer, this package is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

From CHF 338 / 804 per person incl. 3 or 7 overnight stays, breakfast and transport of luggage.