Located at an elevation of 5,118 feet, Davos is the highest city in Europe. The community with just 10,000 inhabitants registers over 2.1 million visitors a year. The valley was only inhabited in 1280 – late for European standards – and the area was mainly used to graze cattle. The fortunes of the city began to rise in the 1850's when the mountain air was deemed to be good for tuberculosis sufferers. A sanatorium for lung patients in Davos is the setting of Thomas Mann's famous novel “Magic Mountain”. The role of the city as a resort for winter sports began when a toboggan race was held there in 1883. During the summer months, however, Davos is a much quieter place and an excellent base for hiking and sightseeing trips to the surrounding peaks and valleys.
Beautiful palace where two tributaries of the Rhine flow together
This 17th-century palace is located at the confluence of two major tributaries of the Rhine River. A rocky plateau called the Flimserstein rises to the north, where a landslide once buried the Rhine valley eons ago. The river has since carved out a narrow gorge through the debris. Schloss Reichenau is currently used by the von Tscharner family as a wine estate. Its wines are regarded as straightforward and unfussy. The best way to experience the palace is on a guided tour with Gian-Battista von Tscharner followed by a wine tasting.
Vultures and bears in Switzerland's largest nature reserve
With an area of 170 square kilometers, the national park in Graubünden is the largest nature reserve in Switzerland. Its elevation ranges from 1,400 meters to 3,174 meters on Piz Pisoc. There are hiking trails starting in Zernez that will lead you through forests, meadows, scree and ice. Because it is forbidden to leave the trails in the park, the wildlife has become accustomed to people. If you are quiet, you may get to see ibexes, deer, chamois, marmots, alpine hares, lizards, snakes and a wide variety of birds – maybe even one of the bearded vultures that were reintroduced to the park in 1991. In 2005, a brown bear was sighted for the first time in 90 years. The visitor center in Zernez offers information about the park and displays a marmot burrow you can walk through.