Aliens and medieval myths: why this little-known Swiss town is perfect for a winter trip

Chur is Switzerland’s best-kept secret, in full view. Train travelers looking for breathtaking views of the Alps often use this small town as a transfer point for the famous Glacier Express and Bernina Express to Italy.

After visiting many Swissover the years i have finally discovered that this little known place is a destination in itself. Now the capital of the trilingual canton (German, Italian and Romansh) of Graubünden, Chur has a long and fascinating history.

Here’s why this little 34,000 people Swiss city ​​should be on your travel wish list.

Authentic Swiss life meets aliens in Chur

A bustling and lively little town, Chur feels much more authentic than its more well-known and posh Grisons cousins, Davos and St. Moritz.

On warm, sunny afternoons, residents socialize on Old Town patios, sip frothy beers and sip local wines. As Chur is a hub of the Rhaetian Railway, there is of course tourists around, but it’s clear that life here doesn’t revolve around them – and it never feels crowded.

As quaint as it sounds, Chur has a surprisingly edgy side. The streets are licked in vibrant 3D illusions by local urbanites artist Fabian “Scourge” Florin. Head to the garden of the impressive Grisons Art Museum and you’ll be confronted with the original sculpture “Aliens” from the 1979 Hollywood blockbuster. Its creator, Swiss artist HR Giger, was a native of Chur.

Surprisingly for such a miniature city, there are two art museums, two performance halls and six art galleries. With everything from fashion boutiques and department stores to patisseries and gourmet restaurants, there’s no shortage of things to spoil your vacation. budget on.

Medieval myths surround the car-free old town of Chur

Dating back 5,000 years, picturesque Chur – pronounced “Kooor” by locals – is Switzerland’s oldest city.

In the car-free medieval old town, tall, skinny buildings are shrouded in curving scriptures and whimsical frescoes. For a prime example, check out the embellished facade of Café Zschale on Ober Gasse Street.

Up a steep staircase above Museumplatz, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, with its three naves and Romanesque stone carvings, has ruled the city for more than 800 years.

At the Bischöfliches Schloss – episcopal castle – Austrian Baroque prevails. The current structure was erected for Bishop Joseph Benedict von Rost, who was in office between 1728 and 1754. Von Rost was originally from South Tyrol in the north Italy and brought with him the architectural style of his commune.

Five minutes away on foot, the Bärenloch, or “Bear Hole”, is steeped in the myths of the middle ages. Consisting of two intimate inner courtyards between Arcas Platz and Kirchgasse, this curious site is believed to have housed bears used to bait bears. Whatever the origin of its name, the Bärenloch remains a good example of the cramped living quarters of Chur in the late Middle Ages.

Just down the street, Martinsplatz is home to a unique 1:500 scale bronze model of the historic center of Chur. Set between the Gothic Church of St. Martin and an elaborate fountain splashed with signs of the zodiac, the tactile model allows blind and the visually impaired to get a better sense of the old town through touch. The names of the most important buildings are written in Braille and the Roman alphabet, which makes the model a useful tool for city tours.

Discover Roman ruins in the middle of the Swiss Alps

Known in Roman times as the Curia Raetorum, Chur was the center of the Roman province of Retie. In the old town, you can observe the ruins of this era, including the remains of a Roman bus station. Ornate shelters designed to reflect Roman buildings protect ruins and archaeological sites while serving as a museum.

To enter, go to the Chur tourist office at form station, where you can pick up a key to the museum for CHF 5 (€5).

Winter snowshoeing and summer hikes in the Alps

Claiming to be “the Alpenstadt”, the Alpine town, Chur is the only town in Switzerland with its own winter and summer sports Region. And with its convenient cable car to Brambrüesch Mountain, getting to the heart of the action couldn’t be easier.

In winter, locals hop on the gondola to enjoy ski, snowboard and snowshoe adventures. In spring and summer, it takes cyclists to the starting point for hiking, mountain biking and the chance to enjoy the alpine meadows blooming with wildflowers.

Travel the Chur Wine Route then fill up on Swiss delicacies

More drinker than athlete? Chur has you covered on that front as well. Thanks to favorable climatic and geological conditions, Chur and the picturesque Rhine Valley of Graubünden are ideal for producing wine. The best way to taste it is to hike the 27 km wine hiking trail, which connects Chur with the wine communities of the Bündner Herrschaft.

Navigable on foot or by bike, the path offers three circular walks through the vineyards from Trimmis/Zizers (approx. 4 km), Malans/Jenins (just under 10 km) and Maienfeld/Fläsch (approx. 10 km), with stops at torkels or wine cellars and restaurants along the way.

Home to the largest concentration of restaurants and bars in Switzerland,

The capital of Graubünden is also a top choice for gourmands. For local and seasonal Graubünden gastronomy and the region’s largest wine selection, head to the cozy Veltliner und Bündner Stuben zum Stern, a Chur institution for over 300 years.

Once you’ve had your fill of barley soup, garden asparagus and veal drizzled with homemade gravy chürer roteli (cherry liqueur), you can discover the flavors of Brazil, India, ItalianJapanese, Mexican and Spanish restaurants.

Chur is the ideal compact city

Clean and friendly, Chur has a bit of everything. Roman ruins and a wonderfully preserved medieval town will delight history buffs. An abundance of restaurants, cafes and artistic venues will delight foodies and culture vultures. Hikes in the vineyards just outside the historic center and easy access to nature and outdoor sports means you can stay active on your trip.

All in all, it is the ideal compact city and it certainly deserves attention. But maybe not too.

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