Chur and around
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Sitting in a deep valley carved by the Rhine, CHUR (pronounced koor) has been a powerful ecclesiastical centre since the fourth century, but has a history stretching back much further: it is celebrated as the oldest continuously inhabited city north of the Alps, with archeological finds dating back to 3000 BC. Situated on prime north–south routes of commerce and communication, Curia Rhaetorium was founded by the Romans after their conquest of 15 BC, and rapidly progressed to become capital of their province Rhaetia Prima. St Luzius, a missionary, is reputed to have brought Christianity to the region in the fourth century, and the first Bishop of Chur to be positively documented was Asinio, in the year 451. By the turn of the millennium, the bishop had become a powerful political ruler, enjoying the patronage of Holy Roman Emperors, and by 1170, the post was officially recognized as a Prince-Bishopric. With the populist movements of the fourteenth century, the Prince-Bishop’s power began to erode, and when the Reformation took hold in 1526, Chur’s wealthy merchants and craftsworkers were able to take over all significant political decision making for themselves.

Today, as capital of the canton and boasting “the best shopping between Zürich and Milan”, Chur retains a great deal of character. Its Old Town, full of cobbled alleys, secret courtyards and foursquare, solid townhouses, breathes the spirit of the Middle Ages, and the huge cathedral towering above symbolizes the rule of the bishop-princes of years gone by.

Chur serves as the linchpin of routes around the canton, with buses and trains sneaking their way through high, narrow valleys to the south and east through the mountains of Central Graubünden to Davos and St Moritz, and west into Surselva up to the high Alps around Andermatt. In a remote mountain fastness southeast of Chur sits the picturesque resort of Arosa, while the more gentle foothills to the northeast, around the village of Maienfeld on the Liechtenstein border, are cloyingly dubbed “Heidiland”.

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