The House of Water
Drinking hall Büvetta Tarasp
The Büvetta Tarasp has a formative history behind it.
Bathing and drinking cures are among the oldest known healing practices. Even the Romans loved and staged the bath. Healing and pleasure went hand in hand. Thanks to the tectonic peculiarity of the «Lower Engadin Window», more than 20 springs bubble up from the rock in Scuol-Tarasp and are mentioned by Paracelsus as early as 1533. The doctor Conrad Gessner was also one of the famous scientific visitors in 1561. He took a cure here to rid himself of his persistent sciatica. The development of tourism began in 1841, when Messrs Olgiati and Conzetti leased the springs of Tarasp and obtained permission to build a park and mount the springs on the banks of the Inn – with the condition that the inhabitants of Tarasp could obtain «salt water» free of charge. Around 1843, a simple drinking hall (Büvetta) was built and already one year later, the Baedeker drew attention to the place, but criticised the few overnight accommodations.
With the construction of the Kurhaus Tarasp, designed by the experienced hotel architect Felix Wilhelm Kubly, the distinguished guests begin to arrive. In 1864 the hotel is ready for operation. The house offers 300 guest beds, the latest comforts and the glamorous halls and salons that ladies and gentlemen of the world need for their appearance. Steam pumps lead the healing water directly into the bathing facilities of the Kurhaus. So guests can comfortably take their baths in the side wing: «steel baths of great natural carbonic acid content», as the advertising promises. Spurred on by the success of the Kurhaus, plans for the construction of a representative drinking hall are pushed ahead. From 1875 to 1876, the architect Bernhard Simon realises an elongated Wandelhalle with shops arranged on the mountain side, large arched windows facing the Inn and, as a crowning glory, an octagonal, solidly built rotunda with festive columns on a high marble base for the three springs Bonifacius, Emerita and Lucius.
Out of fashion
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the distinguished guests stay away and afterwards the world shows itself changed. The leisurely spa business with its social conventions goes out of fashion. People prefer to travel to the Adriatic and want fun and games. In the 1950s, the young Friedrich Dürrenmatt stayed at the Waldhaus Tarasp by invitation, walked down to the drinking hall every day to drink a glass of spring water and was inspired to write great material. Thus, the impressions of his Tarasp stays can be found in his last novel, «Durcheinandertal» («Confusion Valley»), written in 1989. In 1963, major investments were once again made in the drinking hall. According to plans by the architects Manz and Harter from Chur, the Wandelhalle with its richly profiled Arventäfer is transformed into a sober room without historicist frills, in keeping with the taste of the time. But the decline of the spa and bathing business can no longer be stopped.
The drinking hall of the former spa complex "Bad Tarasp" is one of the most important historicist buildings in the Grisons. It is the most grandiose and only surviving drinking hall from the great era of spa tourism in Switzerland and as such an important part of our cultural heritage. (Ludmila Seifert-Uherkovich)
Milestones to date
- Receipt of an NRP grant within the framework of the «Mountain Areas Programme Graubünden 2020-2023» in the amount of CHF 24,686.00 to develop the conceptual foundation
- Hiring a project manager with a 20% workload
- Protecting the Büvetta Tarasp together with the Chasa Carola, which makes it possible to obtain permission for the renovation of the building and places the municipality and the canton under an obligation to secure the drinking hall
- Clearance of the drinking hall, removal of the pavatex panels
- Structural decision that the association is not capable of acting and that a foundation is needed to generate funds and secure the purpose
- Founding of the "Pro Büvetta Tarasp" association on the first UN World Water Day of the Engadin Scuol Zernez holiday region
- Closure of the Büvetta Tarasp by the then municipality of Tarasp
- Rock protection
- Securing funding
- Ensure public access
- Set up functioning operation