Local History

Villa Carisch, Riom, Maquette Grand Riom Palace. Photo/Foto: TES.

Grand Riom Palace in Villa Carisch

Hotel Walhaus in Sils opened in the summer of 1908. The view across Lake Sils and the Maloja pass, the mountains, and the valley were highly valued by the guests, the beau monde of Europe in the Fin de Siècle.

Many famous guests, writers, movie stars, politicians, artists, nouveau riche and aristocracy, visited the hotel to see and to be seen. It was the time of the booming Spa- and health industry, winter- and summer tourism in Grisons.

Many other hotels were built after 1850, and many of them can still be admired, in the same function as a hotel, with another destiny or abandoned and not in use at all, like in Tarasp. They all have in common that they were built in small villages with a few hundred inhabitants.

The failures and never realised dreams are far less known. The small village of Riom exhibits in Villa Carisch the dream of Grand Riom Palace. The maquette shows the architecture of what could have been.

Charles Laurent Carisch (1882-1914), a grandson of Johannes Jacob Carisch (1820-1906), inherited from his father Charles Auguste Carisch (1851-1906) the considerable fortune, which Johannes had generated as the owner of restaurants in Paris.

He wanted to build the Palace to accommodate the growing number of tourists. When one visits Riom today, it is difficult to imagine such as palace in a small village high up in the mountains.

Scuol, Tarasp, St. Moritz, Sils or Davos were similar villages at the beginning of the tourism boom. Charles Laurent had the vision, the architect and the money, but then came the First World War.

He died as a French soldier in 1914, he was born in Paris, and with him died the dream of Grand Riom Palace. (Further information: www.origen.ch).