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The birthplace of winter tourism, a two-time Olympic host city, millenary thermal resort, luxury destination attracting artists and celebrities from all over the world, shopping paradise, and James Bond’s ski hub a couple of times; in all ways, St. Moritz upholds its title as the snazziest destination in all of Switzerland - truly and unlike any other, a city on Top of The World.

The most famous alpine resort in Switzerland, St. Moritz (or San Murezzan, or Sankt Moritz, or San Maurizio, in their most spoken languages, Romansch, German, and Italian) is located in the Engadine valley of the Swiss Alps. Close to the border with Italy. St. Moritz rises 1,800 meters above sea level, the highest city with a train station in Switzerland, named after and built around the St. Moritz Lake in between its scenic alpine mountains.

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A Hot Spot For Thousands Of Years

St. Moritz has been a sought-after destination since the Ancient World. Bronze Age tools found near lakes suggest Celtic worship activity, whereas during the Middle Ages, its “healing spring waters”, which are rich in iron, sulfur, and mineral salts, were highly sought after as medicinal, mystical waters; as far back as 1535, Paracelsus had written about the springs of St. Moritz as the finest in the world.

Despite this, its history as the hottest destination to be - through bright summers or icy winters - it is considerably younger. In the 19th century, when travel and tourism first began taking the shape we know today, St. Moritz was a mildly popular summer destination. But an inventive hotelier was about to push St. Moritz to the top of the world of resorts.

Johannes Badrutt, a key figure in St. Moritz’s history, bought a modest pension in 1856, which would be named Le Kulm. Taking note of how the British elite enjoyed the Alps mountaineering tourism in the summer, Badrutt supposedly issued them a challenge on the summer vacation of 1864: come back to St. Moritz in the winter, and if the stay isn’t every bit as delightful as in the summer, he would give them their money back.

Needless to say, Badrutt won his bet and then some. When the tourists came back for the winter, they were met not with humid and dreary weather, but with the sunny winter of St. Moritz, surrounded by the magnificent wintery alpine landscapes.

Thus, winter tourism was born, cementing St. Moritz as a pioneering and stunning winter resort.

Related: The Glacier Express: Arguably The Most Scenic Train Ride In The World

A Groundbreaking Sports Destination

Alongside its advances in tourism, St. Moritz also introduced many novelties in the sporting world, and was particularly important in the development of winter sports; With the new influx of guests every winter, the resort quickly became the stage for new ways to amuse themselves in the snow.

St. Moritz has been the stage of many competitions, many of them for the first time, including the Winter Olympics; held the first Curling and Ice Skating championships in the continent, opened the first skiing school in Switzerland, was the birthplace of bobsleigh, and is where the oldest natural ice run in the world is located: The Cresta Run, a work of Casper Badrutt.

The Cresta Run was utilized in the two Winter Olympics St. Moritz has hosted, in 1928 and 1948. St. Moritz is among only three cities in the world to host the Winter Games twice and has also been on the stage of countless other sporting championships.

Today, with the Cresta Run still in use, visitors have the longest standing ice run, 350 km of ski slides, and state-of-the-art facilities, accommodating beginners and experienced skiers and snowboarders alike. Piz Nair is one of the highest peaks in Switzerland, and the Corviglia mountains offer one of the steepest slopes - to make any sportsman dizzy.

In the summer, hiking, mountain biking, sailing, and windsurfing are all popular sports in St. Moritz.

Related: Switzerland Mountain Coaster Offers The Best Alps Views

An Elegant And Luxurious Hub

Ever since the 1800s, St. Moritz has been considered “the place to be”, a favored spot among the European elite and aristocracy. St. Moritz’s pioneering spirit brought to the town many indulgent hotel experiences, Michelin-starred cuisine, and luxury brands, which has ensured it remained an elegant sought-after resort to this day.

St. Moritz has also attracted artists, writers, and thinkers for centuries. St. Moritz was the inspiration for Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Herman Hesse’s poem Müder Abend, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and a location for Oscar Niemeyer’s famous futuristic house, just to name a few.

Aristocracy, celebrities, artists, and adventurers all come together at St. Moritz to enjoy the perfect weather, scenic landscapes, luxurious lifestyle, avant-garde architecture, cuisine, and art scene.

Shining Bright On Top Of The World

In St. Moritz, it might seem like the sun shines brighter than in other places - and that’s because it sort of does. Due to its privileged geographical location, St. Moritz gets roughly 322 days of sunshine out of 365 a year, and its warm and dry climate is part of what makes this town such a perfect spot for year-round vacation and sports, even in the dead of winter.

It’s no surprise then, that St. Moritz's official headline is “On Top Of The World”. From its geographical altitude in the Swiss Alps, its long-standing status as the place to be, and its pioneering spirit. In every way, St. Moritz truly seems to be a town that is on top of the world.