24km (15 miles) E of Chur; 11km (7 miles) S of Klosters
Along with St. Moritz and Zermatt, Davos has some of the finest sports facilities in the world, as well as a diversified choice of après-ski entertainment. The variety of activities makes it a favorite vacation spot for the chic and wealthy as well as for the hundreds of ordinary folk just out to have a good time in the mountains.
The name Davos (first Tavauns, later Dafaas) entered written history in 1160 in a document in the Episcopal archives of Chur. In 1289, a group of families from the Valais established homes here. In 1649, the town bought its freedom from Austria.
The two sections, Davos-Platz and Davos-Dorf, were once separate entities, but in the past 25 years or so, construction on the land between the two has served to join them, making Davos today somewhat larger than St. Moritz.
The canton of Davos is the second largest in Switzerland. The high valley that contains it is surrounded by forest-covered mountains that shelter it from rough winds. Thus the area has a bracing climate, which has proven ideal for a summer-and-winter resort. Davos first entered the world limelight as a health resort in the 19th century, when Dr. Alexander Spengler prescribed mountain air for his tuberculosis patients. He brought the first summer visitors here in 1860 and the first winter ones 5 years later. There are still several sanatoriums in the area.
Thomas Mann used Davos, at the foot of the Zauberberg (Magic Mountain), as the setting for his famous novel The Magic Mountain. He visited the resort when his wife went there briefly in 1913 for her health, seeing it as a symbol of the general malaise that afflicted Europe on the eve of World War I. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the last seven chapters of Treasure Island here between 1881 and 1882, as he, too, tended his consumptive wife. Another writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, engaged in a daring run on skis over the Furka Pass to Arosa. Unfortunately, the much-celebrated villa-hotel where all three writers stayed, Am Stein, contains only private apartments and cannot be visited.
The German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) lived at Davos from 1917 until his death. He was a leading exponent of the expressionist movement.
In addition to being a well-known summer-and-winter vacation resort, Davos is also a health spa, a sports center, and an important venue for international meetings. Whether you're a hiker, mountain biker, downhill or cross-country skier, hang-glider, or ice-sports fan, Davos is an ideal place, and many nonathletes visit just for the relaxation. There's a wide choice of hotels, restaurants, bars, and discos, plus museums and concert and theater performances.