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Magic mountain, party city and meeting place

Between Mountain Magic and Magic Mountain

Davos is the highest town in Europe, famed for the diversity of sports, leisure and cultural offers, its rejuvenating climate, the HC Davos, the Spengler Cup, the Kirchner Museum, the World Economic Forum and the celebrated freestyle scene on Jakobshorn.

Davos originally enjoyed its prominence thanks to its rejuvenating climate, which has been renowned for around 150 years. As early as 1860 the first Davos guest house was opened to welcome spa guests. The German physician who immigrated here, Alexander Spengler, opened a recuperation spa for lung illnesses, which primarily comprised extensive sleep on the sun terraces of Davos, along with Veltliner wine. This treatment made Davos world renowned, and in 1924 the novel "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann made the location immortal in a literary sense too. Alongside Mann, numerous other writers, artists and philosophers also travelled to Davos. They brought their own culture with them, made the spa town famous in their works, or were responsible for initiating the sports, event and cultural facilities that exist today.

Pioneer in winter sports

Davos was at the forefront of the development of modern winter sports. The history of the world renowned Davos sledge started in the 19th century. The sledge received its name at the first historic sledge race in 1883, in Davos. In 1921 in Davos, the Hockey Club Davos was established and today it is akin to myth and living legend. 1923 witnessed the first Spengler Cup, the oldest and most famous international ice-hockey tournament in the world. The Parsenn Derby is the most traditional ski race in Switzerland and took place for the first time in 1924. Ten years later, the first t-bar ski lift in the world was put into operation on the Bolgen. In more modern times, Davos created headlines when it established the freestyle scene in the 1980s. At that time, the Jakobshorn was the only mountain on which snowboarders were permitted to use the lifts. 

In 1934 the first t-bar ski lift in the world was put into operation in Davos.
Sport and health: then, as now, an essential part of Davos.
The attractive leisure facilities beyond the big cities made Davos a trend setter from a very early age onwards.
Benefits of town and country alike

Davos is the highest town in Europe (1,560 m above sea level). The quality and diversity of its facilities is unique: First class leisure options in summer and winter alike in an intact, imposing mountain world, exemplary meeting infrastructure, internationally acclaimed sports and cultural events, renowned museums, galleries and music festivals. With its characteristic alpine flat roof, Davos has developed its very own building style. The Davos ice stadium (1981) is one of the most architecturally interesting of its kind in Europe. Exceptional hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities are further advantages of the alpine metropolis.

Party town of Davos

The development of an attractive range of leisure facilities all around the urbanised centre made Davos an early trendsetter with respect to leisure stays in the mountains. As such, for over 100 years Davos has boasted coffee houses, theatres, concerts and even six cinemas in which to entertain its guests. This role as a trendsetter, which - during the years of tuberculosis in Europe - acted to generate a spirit of optimism, has remained true of what is now the highest town in the Alps to this day. As such, the most diverse selection of nightlife activities in the Alps is also found here. In addition, the town boasts numerous ski huts and snow bars, in which guests relax with lively après ski fun.  Ultimately, here on the fun mountain Jakobshorn lies what could be termed the birthplace of après ski.

Meeting, knowledge and research town

Davos is the clear leader in the global meeting market in the mountains. With good reason: Davos possesses a rich tradition, as the leading-edge conference centre in the Alps and, in the World Economic Forum (WEF), hosts an event with pronounced international charisma. However, Davos is far more than simply a meeting town: The town is home to a range of renowned research stations such as the AO, national institute for snow and avalanche research, a wide range of specialised clinics and hospitals, whilst also being a town for energy, education and knowledge at the same time. All of this, embedded in a natural environment, located 1560 m above sea level, is what creates the globally renowned "Spirit of Davos".  

Where is the "magic mountain"?

Davos has been frequently associated with the "Magic Mountain" for almost 100 years. The phrase "Magic Mountain" is in fact often used as a synonym for the spot. But what and where is the magic mountain?

The most important fact first: "The Magic Mountain" is the title of a novel and masterpiece by Thomas Mann. Thomas Mann gained inspiration for his tale during his own stay in Davos. His wife Katia was ill with catarrh on the apex of the lungs, and travelled to a recuperation spa at the woodland sanitorium in Davos. This afforded Thomas Mann extensive first-hand information on life in the sanitorium. As a result of his impressions and armed with the letters that his wife wrote to him from the sanitorium, he embarked on writing his novel, which he worked on between 1913 and 1915, before finishing in 1924 after a break lasting a number of years.

The work "the magic mountain"

Hans Castorp, the main character in Thomas Mann's novel "The Magic Mountain", visits his cousin, who is recuperating in a Davos sanitorium with the aid of the mountain air. Castorp - fascinated by life in the sanitorium - defines the image of the sanitorium guests anew. For Castorp, life in the sanitorium becomes the mass of all things...the "magic mountain". Five years after the novel was published, Thomas Mann received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Sweden, rendering his entire works immortal.

In the novel, readers find the magic mountain located on Davos's Schatzalp. The image shows the former sanitorium on the Schatzalp, which is now a hotel. (Image: Documentation library, Davos)
Davos with the Schatzalp sanatorium, top left. (Image: documentation library, Davos)
Schatzalp as a place where things happen

On the Schatzalp, where readers of Thomas Mann's best-selling novel will find the magic mountain, the ambience, the attitude to life amidst pure art nouveau architecture, remains as it was almost 100 years ago. The architecture of the sanitorium remains unchanged. The terraces, where guests of the sanitorium rested and recuperated, serve today as sunbathing spots for the hotel guests. And anyone who has been on the Schatzalp will know: Here, enthroned above Davos, the area is truly magical - today as it was yesterday.

Davos: Justifiably a magic mountain

The "Magic Mountain" is therefore primarily a literary anecdote rooted in Davos by Thomas Mann. However, this is not based on vague origins, because at the beginning of the 20th century Davos was a magical mountain in the truest sense: Whilst the whole of Europe was suffering from tuberculosis, in Davos not a single inhabitant of the village was ill. The healing effect of the high mountain air of Davos therefore became world renowned at an early stage, which led to numerous international guests heading for Davos - including many writers, philosophers and artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Arthur Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson. These individuals brought with them their own culture, made Davos immortal in their works and even devised some of today's facilities in the spa town, as is written in the history books.

Trendsetting role for holidays in the mountains

The healthy high mountain air in conjunction with the healing mountain environment were two vital cornerstones for the rise of Davos into a world-renowned spa town - the development of an attractive range of leisure activities on the one hand, accompanied by the urbanised centre, made Davos a trendsetter for leisure vacations in the mountains early on. In its role as a trendsetter – initially during the years of tuberculosis – Davos managed to generate a spirit of optimism. This atmosphere is still palpable to this very day in what is now known as the highest town in the Alps. 

The district of Davos

In 2001, Davos became the first district in the canton of Grisons to be officially awarded the coveted "Energiestadt [energy town] label” by the Federal Department for Energy and the awarding body. As an energy town, Davos promises to operate a sustainable and results-orientated energy policy. The energy town is currently introducing measures to improve its CO2 balance and reinforce climate protection.

Country Switzerland
Canton Graubuenden
Municipality Davos
6 Divisions Davos Platz, Davos Dorf, Frauenkirch, Glaris, Monstein, Wiesen
Inhabitants ca. 11,000 (Dec. 2017)
Altitude 1,560 m asl
Highest point 3,146 m asl, 10,300 feet - Flüela-Schwarzhorn
Lowest point 1,080 m asl, 3,544 feet - Landwasser
Total area 284 km2, 110 square miles
Lake Davos 3’770 m, 12,300 feet of shoreline
Temperatures winter: 0°C day / -10°C night; summer: 20°C day / 5°C night
Number of guest beds Commercially rented out: approx. 14‘000 beds (6‘330 beds in Hotels and Pensions, 1’983 beds in Group accommodations, 6‘000 beds in apartments) plus 13‘300 beds in holiday apartments for personal use and 507 beds in clinics. Total: 28‘120 beds
Total overnight stays 2,630,000 (Total year 17/18)
Commercial overnights 1,226,284 May 12 - April 13 hotels, groups, holiday apartments (excl. clinics)
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