Located in the Albula region of canton Graubünden, Switzerland, Filisur is a beautiful village that remains relatively unknown to most people. The small alpine village is dotted with numerous picturesque houses. It is a small village that can be easily explored within a couple of hours.
Two of the most popular trains in the country run through the village of Filisur, the Bernina Express and Glacier Express trains. From here, you can also head over to the panoramic viewpoints near the Landwasser Viaduct.
The village of Filisur is located to the west of Bergün and south of Schmitten in the southeastern part of Switzerland, in Graubünden. It is situated in Parc Ela, the largest national park in the country. Landwasser Viaduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Greifenstein Castle Ruins, an abandoned castle on a hilltop, are two of its most famous attractions.
At 1,080 meters above sea level, Filisur train station serves the Bernina Express and Glacier Express trains. The train station was built between Chur, St. Moritz, and Davos to serve as a connecting railway. The train station continues to be used today by thousands of tourists exploring this beautiful part of Switzerland.
History and Culture of Filisur
The first settlements in Filisur date back to the Bronze Age. At the time of the medieval era, Filisur was the seat of the Greifenstein Lords, whose castle is now a collection of ruins. Besides the Castle, they had a large estate and several smaller ones.
Romansh people settled in the region through the centuries, except for Jenisberg, where Walsers settled. The main language now in use is German, which has replaced Romansh. Community members have converted meanwhile to the Reformed faith.
Animal husbandry and agriculture have been the main sources of income for the locals. Filisur has also become a transport hub with the construction of the Rhaetian Railway. Filisur and Bergün/Bravuogn have merged to form Bergün Filisur, a municipality created in 2018.
If you would like to learn more about Bergün, you can check out The Scenic Village of Bergün, Switzerland.
Things to Do in Filisur
1. Admire the Engadine Houses in Filisur Village
Since it is such a small village, touring Filisur on your own is easy and convenient. Beautiful Engadine houses line the main street. This street was heavily used during the middle ages to access Albula Pass, despite Julier and Septimer Pass also being more popular. Its importance began to wane, however, as the train station was constructed and completed.
Having been built along a major transport route (Albula Pass) to Engadine Valley, Filisur houses have been constructed to resemble Engadine houses. There were many cultural similarities between Filisur and Engadine, especially in the language called Romansh. Therefore, the houses here are referred to as Engadine Houses even if they are not located in the Engadine valley. Unfortunately, the Romansh language was lost to time during the 18th and 19th centuries when German replaced it.
Engadine Houses can also be found in other valleys, such as Val Bregaglia and Val Mustair, as well as in Upper Vinschgau, Italy. There is a marked difference between the houses in Filisur and those in the rest of the Albula Valley.
2. Check out FiliTour
The FiliTour encompasses 14 stops within the village of Filisur. At each stop, you will learn about the house, its importance, who once lived there, and what makes it special. In addition, it shows the oldest part of the village, Süesswinkel, where the locals used to meet for community meetings.
It is possible to start at the train station or from the west of the village and work your way eastwards until the main street ends. There are a number of Engadine houses along the route.
Hans Ardüser’s painting on the eastern façade of Chesa Antupada really caught my attention. Also interesting is the Haus Tgetgel & Ughini, numbered 13 on the map. Here you can see the finest example of sgraffito art, a form of wall decoration created by layering plaster tinted in contrasting colors on moistened plaster.
In spite of it being a short tour, listening to all of the information will take you two hours.
If you are using an Android or iPhone device, you can download the Tour from your Parc Ela app.
3. Visit the Landwasser Viaduct
Chur and Thusis were connected to Upper Engadine until St. Moritz by the Albula Railway, which began operating in 1903. There are many technical wonders along the mountain railway route, such as curves, hairpin turns, tunnels, bridges, and the Landwasser Viaduct. It is a masterpiece that combines stunning landscapes, engineering feats, and architecture.
Among all the bridge construction projects on the Albula Railway line, the Landwasser Viaduct built between 1901 and 1902 is the largest and most impressive. The Landwasser Viaduct is composed of bridges built over natural stone vaults, with uniform measurements. In a curve of 100 meters radius, there are six vaults with a span of 20 meters and a maximum height of 65 meters. With numerous tunnels and curves, riding the train on this train route is a fantastic and memorable experience.
Filisur offers a trail that leads to a panoramic view of the Landwasser Viaduct, where trains cross the viaduct every hour. Although you can visit the panoramic viewpoint year-round, I recommend coming in the fall for the most picturesque shots, as well as in the summer. Whether you’re capturing landscapes or detailed architectural shots, Filisur will provide plenty of photographic opportunities for everyone.
4. Ride the Historic Train from Filisur to Davos
The Historical Train is a vintage carriage that runs twice a day between Filisur and Davos Platz. The train will be propelled by the crocodile locomotive engine from 1929. Train compartments will have train carriages from 1903 to 1990.
You can travel daily on this historic train composition from May until October. With this historic train from the 1920s, you’ll pass through wild ravines and stunning scenery. You have the option to travel in an indoor or outdoor train carriage. If the weather is good, I would highly recommend using the outdoor carriage.
If you would like to read more about the Historical Train from Filisur to Davos, check out our article Historical Train Davos to Filisur: All You Need To Know.
5. Hike around Filisur
Filisur lies within the heart of Parc Ela and provides access to a multitude of hiking trails. The following hiking trails might be of interest to you:
|Hiking Trail||Distance in km|
|Filisur – Panoramic Viewpoint under Landwasser Viaduct||1.9 km|
|Filisur – Panoramic Viewpoint South||1.2 km|
|Filisur – Panoramic Viewpoint North||2.1 km|
|4 Viaducts Trail||13.7 km|
|Filisur – Bergün||9.6 km|
|Filisur – Monstein||12.5 km|
Final Thoughts: Filisur
Although Filisur is without a doubt a pretty village, what makes it special is its access to various viaducts and trails. For fans of architecture, trains, and engineering, Filisur is a great place to visit. Photographers will also enjoy the lovely photos of its main street with Engadine houses, the viaducts, passing trains, nature, and more that you can take.
- Parc Ela – https://www.parc-ela.ch/de
- Ragettli, Jürg and Bigna Barandun. Architekturrundgang Filisur: Beitrag zur Geschichte von Siedlung und Bauten von Filisur. Bündner Monatsblatt: Zeitschrift für Bündner Geschichte, Landeskunde und Baukultur, 4/2005.