Zernez is a municipality
Municipalities of Switzerland
Communes , also known as municipalities, are the smallest government division in Switzerland, numbering 2,596 . While many have a population of a few hundred citizens, the largest cities such as Zürich or Geneva also have the legal status of municipalities...

 in the district of Inn in the Swiss
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 of Graubünden
Graubünden or Grisons is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. The canton shares borders with the cantons of Ticino, Uri, Glarus and St. Gallen and international borders with Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein...


Zernez is a major node in the regional road network, with roads leading into the Upper Engadin and towards Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the Lower Engadin and towards Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, over the Fuorn Pass
Fuorn Pass
Fuorn Pass or Ofen Pass is a high alpine mountain pass in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. The name is based on the ovens that were used in ironworks in the area...

 into the Val Mustair
Val Müstair
Val Müstair is a municipality in the district of Inn in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It was formed on 1 January 2009 through the merger of Tschierv, Fuldera, Lü, Valchava, Santa Maria Val Müstair and Müstair.-Demographics:...

 and over the Flüela Pass
Flüela Pass
Flüela Pass is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Graubünden. The pass road connects Davos and Susch in the lower Engadin valley.Since the Vereina Tunnel opened in 1999, the road is no longer open all year.-See also:...

. Zernez is the center for visitors of the Swiss National Park
Swiss National Park
The Swiss National Park is located in the canton of Graubünden in the east of Switzerland between Zernez, S-chanf, Scuol and the Fuorn Pass in the Engadin valley on the border with Italy....

 (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.


Zernez has an area, , 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).

The municipality is located in the Sur Tasna sub-district of the Inn district along the Ofen Pass road into the Engadin
The Engadin or Engadine is a long valley in the Swiss Alps located in the canton of Graubünden in southeast Switzerland. It follows the route of the Inn River from its headwaters at Maloja Pass running northeast until the Inn flows into Austria one hundred kilometers downstream...

. It consists of the village of Zernez and the section of Brail.

Lai da Ova Spin
Lai da Ova Spin
Lai da Ova Spin is a compensation reservoir on the Spöl river at Zernez, Grisons, Switzerland. Its volume is 7.4 mio m³ and surface area 0.34 km².The arch dam Ova Spin was completed in 1968 and has a height of 73 m.-External links:**...

 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 1473 m (4,832.7 ft) and is connected to the railway network of the Rhätische Bahn. In Zernez, the stream Spöl empties into the Inn
Inn River
The Inn is a river in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. It is a right tributary of the Danube and is approximately 500km long. The highest point of its drainage basin is the summit of Piz Bernina, at 4,049 metres.- Geography :...

 (Romansh: En).


Zernez has a population (as of ) of . , 16.3% of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 6.1%.

, the gender distribution of the population was 50.9% male and 49.1% female. The age distribution, , 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.

In the 2007 federal election
Swiss federal election, 2007
Elections to the Swiss Federal Assembly, the federal parliament of Switzerland, were held on Sunday, 21 October 2007. In a few cantons, a second round of the elections to the Council of States was held on 11 November, 18 November, and 25 November 2007...

 the most popular party was the SVP
Swiss People's Party
The Swiss People's Party , also known as the Democratic Union of the Centre , is a conservative political party in Switzerland. Chaired by Toni Brunner, but spearheaded by Christoph Blocher, the party is the largest party in the Federal Assembly, with 58 members of the National Council and 6 of...

 which received 45.9% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SPS
Social Democratic Party of Switzerland
The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland is the largest centre-left political party in Switzerland....

 (23.4%), the FDP
Free Democratic Party of Switzerland
The Free Democratic Party was a classical liberal political party in Switzerland. It was one of the major parties in Switzerland until its merger with the smaller classical liberal Liberal Party, to form FDP.The Liberals on 1 January 2009....

 (20.6%) and the CVP
Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland
The Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland is a Christian democratic political party in Switzerland. It is the fourth-largest party in the National Council, with 31 seats, and the largest in the Council of States, with 15 seats. It has one seat, that of Doris Leuthard, on the Swiss...


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
A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of tertiary education institution, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas . Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece...


Zernez has an unemployment rate of 1.89%. , 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.

The historical population is given in the following table:
year population
1835 634
1850 603
1900 596
1910 1,075
1950 739
2000 959
Population increase due to railway construction


Most of the population speaks (Rhaeto-)Romansh (61.1%), with German being second most common (31.3%) and Italian being third ( 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
Percent Number Percent Number Percent
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

207 22.50 % 243 27.96 % 300 31.28 %
Romansh 645 70.11 % 571 65.71 % 586 61.11 %
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

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
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms 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.

Heritage sites of national significance

The Reformed
Swiss Reformed Church
The Reformed branch of Protestantism in Switzerland was started in Zürich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basel , Bern , St...

 Church in Zernez
, the Schloss Wildenberg (Wildenberg Castle
Wildenberg Castle
Wildenberg Castle is a castle in the municipality of Zernez of the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance.-References:...

, the Palazzo Bezzola and the
Richtstätte/Galgen Fuorcha are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance
Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance
The Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance is a register of some 8,300 items of cultural property in Switzerland...


The church was first built in 1367. When the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 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
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 building, though the romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 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

In addition to the four Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance, Zernez has several other notable sites. These include the gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 chapel of St. Sebastian, the Morenturm, the Swiss National Park and park house, the abandoned tower of La Serra and in Brail, a medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 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
Tower house
A tower house is a particular type of stone structure, built for defensive purposes as well as habitation.-History:Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces...

 in the village. The Swiss National Park, , 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
Swabian War
The Swabian War of 1499 was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsburg...

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.

External links

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