Local History

Samnaun-Dorf, Herbst 2020. Photo/Foto: TES.

Samnaun Valley

The border town of Samnaun (canton of Graubünden) has a special status. this history dates back to the eleventh century.

The first mention of the village was in a charter of the Lord of Tarasp in 1089. Farmers from the villages of Ramosch and Vna in the Lower Engadin (Unterengadin) populated the valley of Saumnaun.

The fertile climate made farming possible at an altitude of over 1 800 metres (see also the centuries-old agricultural terraces in this region).

They founded the villages Compatsch, Laret, Plan, Ravaisch, and Samnaun-Dorf. The villages have baroque or modern catholic churches because the valley remained catholic in 1530.

Samnaun (and Lower Engadin) belonged to the county of Tyrol until the acquisition by Habsburg in 1363.

The villages, including Samnaun, bought themselves free in 1652. They already belonged to the Free State (Freistaat) of the Three Leagues (Drei Bünde) as part of the League of God’s House (Gotteshausbund) led by Chur.

The other two leagues were the  Gray League (Graue Bund) and the League of the Ten Jurisdictions (Zehngerichte Bund). Lower Engadin became a region of the new canton of Graubünden in 1803.

Samnaun had been a customs town for centuries. From 1848 onwards, however, the customs post moved to Vinadi and later to Martina.

Samnaun was only connected with Unterengadin by the alpine passes. Henceforth, the contacts were limited to Tyrol in the winter period. The Swiss Confederation granted the town the status of a customs-free zone for this reason.

The construction of the road from Samnaun to Martina and thus Lower Engadin in 1912 did not change this situation for practical reasons.

Samnaun is still a duty-free enclave nowadays, but is also known for the winter sports facilities and magnifique nature.

(Source and further information: www.samnaun.ch).