Alexander Spengler and the Davos healing climate

Health cures boomed and soon made Davos world-renowned

Around 150 years ago, the German physician Alexander Spengler came to Davos. What he did not know at the time: A few years later he would be initiating the rise of Davos to an internationally leading spa, holiday and conference town. Thanks to his discovery of the healing Davos air.

The young Alexander Spengler initially came Switzerland against his wishes - as a political refugee. In 1848 the law student took part in the March revolution, in his home town of Mannheim. When it failed he fled to Switzerland and enrolled with Zurich University to study medicine. After completing his studies, he took a position as a local doctor in the small farming village of Davos.

Alexander Spengler in snowy Davos.
The discovery of the health-promoting high altitude climate

It became quickly apparent to Spengler that no village resident was suffering from the then fearful tuberculosis. In many of the towns and villages across Europe tens of thousands were dying from the epidemic every year. Spengler held the special high mountain climate responsible for the absence of consumption from Davos. He informed many of his medical colleagues of these findings, at home and abroad. As such, the reputation of the healthy Davos climate spread across Europe - and as early as 1860 the first Davos hostel opened to welcome recuperating guests. Spengler established a recuperation spa for tuberculosis sufferers, which primarily combined extensive sleep on the terraces or in the cow barn with Veltliner wine. This method promised healing and made Davos world famous. Tuberculosis sufferers from around the world visited the former farming village and laid the foundations for what is today the highest town in Europe with international renown.

The worlds meets in Davos

The spa guests included Katia Mann, the wife of world-famous author Thomas Mann. Her stay at the sanatorium and the time that Thomas Mann spent with her in Davos inspired the writer to pen his masterpiece "The Magic Mountain". Other sanatorium guests and visitors did not perhaps write about Davos, but they did bring their culture with them - for example ice-hockey from England. And at this point the Spengler family also deserves a mention: Just like his father Alexander Spengler, son Karl was also a physician and a great sports enthusiast. In 1922 he founded the world-famous Spengler Cup, which is the oldest ice-hockey tournament in the world today.

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