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Chur’s picturesque Old Town nestles in the shadow of the cathedral, which looms on high ground to the southeast. The alleys and fountained squares are characterized by their terraces of old Churer houses, traditionally built without shutters and fronted in rather dour, greyish Scalära stone. The main north–south thoroughfare Poststrasse bisects the Old Town, with busy Postplatz at its northern end; on the square is a large villa housing the BündnerKunstmuseum (Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–5pm, Thurs until 8pm; Fr.7; SMP), featuring paintings by Graubünden artists Angelika Kauffmann and Giovanni and Alberto Giacometti. Something of an iconic feminist heroine during her lifetime and afterwards, Kauffmann was born in Chur on October 30, 1741, and moved to London at the age of 25. She quickly estabished a solid reputation there, becoming one of the most popular artists of the time, and was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. Although she was best known in her day for the kind of dramatic narrative painting exemplified in Hector and Paris (1770), on permanent display in the museum, today’s art historians tend to reject these works as overly sentimental and favour instead her portraits, of which there are also plenty on display, not least a graceful self-portrait (1780).
Following Poststrasse 100m south will bring you to the arcaded courtyard of the fifteenth-century Rathaus. One street to the east is Reichsgasse, an atmospheric old alley with, at no. 57, a plaque commemorating the birthplace of Angelika Kauffmann. Reichsgasse ends in the attractive open square of Arcas, dominated by the Gothic Kirche St Martin, dating from 1491 and now sporting three beautiful stained-glass windows by Alberto Giacometti. Opposite the church, bustling Oberegasse runs west to the Obertor, a city gate and remnant of Chur’s medieval fortifications. Immediately behind the church rises the hill upon which the cathedral sits; just to the left, in a quiet courtyard at Hofstrasse 1, is the impressive Rätisches Museum (Rhaetian Museum; Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Fr.5), housing the canton’s historical collections on six floors. The basement offers a standard trot through the archeology of the area, while upper floors have generally engaging displays on the history of Chur and of Graubünden as a whole. Unfortunately, everything is organized thematically and not chronologically, so the fine old decorated wooden chests and ornately carved wardrobes from various parts of the canton are scattered over different floors, in between bits of arts and crafts, pottery, textiles and more.
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