Stone, water and grass
Switzerland, surrounded by breathtaking peaks of the Alps is considered to be geographically the most unbroken country in Europe. The composition of the population is actively affected by the surrounding countries, this is the way for example the so-called French Switzerland, German Switzerland and Italian Switzerland developed, establishing their own culture around themselves. In the north, the Germans live who are famous for their precision, in the west, the easy-going French and in the south, the lively Italian language indicate the proximity to Italy. Vals is located in the South-East of Switzerland, halfway on an imaginary line drawn between St. Gallen and Lugano. This wonderful little village is still intact and undisturbed despite the fact that in recent years it has been enriched with several investments and provides future for its inhabitants. No wonder that in 2012, Vals won the “Village Renewal Award” at the biannual competition.
The basis of the economy of the small village is tourism. Two thirds of the local income comes directly or indirectly from this sector. Tourists are attracted to Vals by the mountains, climate, heavy snow in the Dachberg Ski Resort (3,000 meters above sea level) and the famous thermal bath. The hotel next to the spa bath was opened about 50 years ago. Over the years, the complex has undergone a number of restorations, each with a different style, which provides an eccentric charm to the building.
Locals attribute the endowment of Vals to the stone, water and grass triad. The local stone, the water from the glaciers and welling up from the depths of the earth and the herbs provided by the local nature, contribute to the image of Vals and provide the base for the generations who live here. In addition to the healthy spa water, Vals also satisfies the needs of those who would like to relax in peace and luxury. In the small town, there is an exclusive cave villa carved into the hillside which is considered to be a new attraction in the Swiss Alps. The residence designed by Dutch architects serves as a hotel. The building that is sank into the hillside, does not interfere the integrity of the natural environment, in fact it rather establishes a sophisticated harmony. One of the main advantages of the underground residence facility is undoubtedly the excellent thermoregulation: they keep warm in winter and provide a pleasant temperature without air conditioning in summer – just like a cave. And if the building was constructed on the right hill, in the right direction, it is heated by the sun all day and the home of the lucky resident is filled with light.
Vals has an area of 153km2 area, in the Grisons (or Graubünden) canton. It is the southernmost town of the Surselva district, located in the Valley of Valser and from and it is the largest public administrative the west it is neighbored by Ticino canton. As water is one of the key endowments of Vals, it is important to mention that the valley is supplied with fresh water by Valser Rheine from the Länta and Grauhorn glaciers through the Zervreilasee catchment basin. At the same time, the mineral water of Vals is bottled locally, with spring water gushing up from approximately 1000 meters deep. It is crystal clear and rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The daily consumption of one liter covers 52% of the daily recommended amount of calcium and 18% of the daily recommended amount of magnesium. It is not only an excellent thirst quencher, but thanks to the occurrence of the minerals and trace elements which cannot be produced by the body itself, it is especially valuable.
Referring back a little, a bit less than half of the area is lands and pasture fields, eight percent is forested and the rest is rock and ice. The rock and stone are being utilized even today. Houses here have a very particular characteristic, as the roofs can only be covered by the stones from Vals. So you know that you are in Vals, even if you only look at the top of the houses, as this stone provides a unique feature to the town.
The picturesque village is a German-speaking, Walser settlement, which was incorporated into the area of the Lumnezia valley inhab-ited by the Romans. Walser is a German folk group that migrated to the area of Valais about 700 years ago and this is where they finally settled down. The centre of the village is Vals-Platz, which is 1252 meters above sea level.
In the village you can still find many typical Walser farmhouses. They used to be inhabited all year round, but now, they are now only used during the Spring and Autumn during the grazing period.