Thanks to their proud architecture, the Engadine houses with their mighty stonewalls and funnel-shaped windows are impressive at first glance. Their soul, however, lies in their artistic decorations, the Sgraffiti.
Massive walls, deep-set wall-to-wall windows and an archway are typical features of an Engadine house. But what make each Engadine house unique are the Sgraffiti on the plastered facades. The word is derived from the Italian “sgraffiare” (to scratch) and refers to the technique of the traditional craft which migrating workers brought to the Upper Engadine as early as the 16th Century.
Proverbs, patterns and drawings are engraved in the wet plaster. Their effect is not achieved through color but via the intricate interplay of light and shadow. Not infrequently, Sgraffiti reveals something about the occupants of the house. Visitors hear these stories on a guided tour; in some places they can even try their hand at this art. Especially beautiful are the ornaments on the facades of houses in Guarda, which won the Wakker Prize in 1975 for its beauty.