The Montafon region is situated in the southern part of the Vorarlberg Province in the south-west of Austria. It is framed by three massive mountain ranges: the distinctive limestone of the Rätikon in the north-west, the crystalline central-Alpine mountains of the partly glacial Silvretta in the south and the Verwall mountain range in the north-east.
The Montafon Alpine Valley is 39 km long, its villages are situated between 650 and 1,450 m above sea-level, and they are surrounded by mountains up to 3,312 m (Piz Buin).
In addition to locations which attract those who are keen on sports activities and a leisure programme there are also many places for families with a more relaxed character.
As documented by archaeological and botanical explorations, humans settled in the Montafon region 5,000 years ago. There are remains of a 3,500 year old settlement in Friagawald, which was part of a massive castle construction from Bronze Age.
The Montafon region was originally settled by Rhaetians coming from Walgau and Grisons. Many Rhaeto-Romanic names of mountains, rivers and places as well as field and family names are still testimonies of it (e.g. Albona, Gafluna, Montjola, Silvretta, Tilisuna).
Mining was of great importance in the Montafon region throughout the Middles Ages and probably already in the Bronze and Iron Ages: iron, copper and silver were mined here. In the late Middle Ages, in about 1300, the miners from Silbertal and miners from Wals who were interested in mining tunnels in high locations moved to the Montafon region. The Romanic and later German settlement was mainly administered from the Meierhof courtyard close to Bludenz.
From 1258 to 1418/20, the Montafon region, which was part of the Romanic Province of Churrätien, belonged politically to the county of Werdenberg which founded the city of Bludenz between 1259 and 1296.
In 1408 the Peace of Constance, which dissolved the military alliance Bund ob dem See, was also reaffirmed by the Montafon population in the form of the crossed keys in the coat of arms.
From the 15th century the Habsburgs ruled the Province of Vorarlberg, hence also the towns in the Montafon region, alternating from Tyrol and Anterior Austria (Freiburg im Breisgau).
From 1805 to 1814 the Montafon region belonged to Bavaria. The Landamann and Landschreiber (former high officials) Germanized their home valley as “Brunnenthal” in response to a request by the new Bavarian government on 2nd June 1806, and hence gave them the best overall characteristic which one could ever have conceived.
From 1814 the Montafon region belonged to Austria again.
The main town of the Montafon region is situated in a bend of the valley, surrounded by the mountains of Verwall Alps and Rätikon mountain range. Schruns has a range of tourist activities on offer. It is also the final stop of the local train line Montafoner Bahn and the point of departure of the buses to the other municipalities of the Montafon region.
More than 100 years ago, the Swiss writer I.C. Heer wrote: “It is more of a coquettish little town than a village, the first destination in the Vorarlberg Province to become a highly stylish summer retreat, and overall the most visited tourist place in the country”. In 1926 the famous writer Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Hemingway spent 3 months at the Taube Hotel in Schruns. He included his experiences in his narrative “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
In 1928 Schruns got the status of a market town. An important reason for that was the well-known cattle market of Schruns where thousands of the famous Montafon brown cattle were herded. The famous cattle breeding is also reflected in the coat of arms of the market town: the rising bull in the golden-blue shield and the crossed keys of the former coat of arms of the valley below it.
Schruns has a surface of 1,804.47 hectars and around 3,900 inhabitants. While it used to be a rural health resort before World War II, it has experienced a dynamic tourist upturn together with its neighbouring town Tschagguns since 1947 (Hochjochbahn cable car, modernisation of various inns, sports facilities, network of hiking paths, active park and much more).