Chur (German), French Coire , Italian Coira , Romansh Cuera, capital, Graubünden (Grisons) canton, eastern Switzerland. It lies on the Plessur River in the Rhine Valley. The meeting point of roads from Italy over several Alpine passes, it was important in Roman times as Curia Raetorum, the centre of the Roman province of Raetia. First mentioned in 452 as the seat of a bishopric, it was ruled in the Middle Ages by its bishops, who became princes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1170. Chur was the centre of the Gotteshausbund (League of the House of God) against the power of the prince bishops and the Habsburgs in 1367, and it became the capital of the new canton of Graubünden in 1803. Notable landmarks include the Catholic Cathedral (1175–1282), the Episcopal (Bishop’s) Palace (rebuilt 1728–37), the Protestant Church of St. Martin (8th century, rebuilt 1476–91), the Raetian Museum, and art and natural history museums.
Chur’s main industry is tourism, but it is also a significant trading centre, especially for Valtelline wines. Metalworking, food processing, and the production of machinery are important. The population is mainly German speaking with a small Protestant majority.
Chur looks back on 5000 years of settlement history, which also makes it Switzerland’s oldest town. This lively small bishop’s town has developed to become the cultural and economic centre of the Grisons, thanks to its excellent location on key transport routes through the Alps.
To help find the most important witnesses to the town’s history, two discovery trails marked by red and green footprints lead through the town. Examples include the Gothic old town dating from the 15th and 16th century, where the influences of the neighbouring countries remain visible today and attest to the skills of the Italian master builders, and the 800-year-old cathedral with its wonderful, three-sided carved altar dating from the 15th century. Visits to the Rhaetian Museum with its cultural-historical and folk art collection, as well as the Art Museum with its Grisons’ paintings and sculptures from the 18th – 20th century, are particularly rewarding.
500 shops and over 100 restaurants and hostelries offer visitors a wealth of possible purchases. The town’s many annual events as well as concerts, theatres and cinemas make the southern ambience of Chur noticeable. What’s more, Chur also has a zoo and leisure park.
A regional mountain – the ‘Brambrüesch’ – means that Chur also has its own winter and summer sports region. In summer, Chur is the ideal spot from which to set off on walks and visits to vineyards in the ‘Bündner Herrschaft’ winemaking region. Chur is the gateway to the Grisons mountains: 26 holiday and spa resorts can be reached in less than an hour from Chur.
Panorama trains travel from Chur into the Grisons Alps, e.g. the Bernina Express to St. Moritz and Tirano along the Albula route which has been much praised as a masterpiece of railway construction, the Glacier Express to the Matterhorn, the Arosa Express to the renowned climatic spa resort, and the Heidi Express to Davos.
Chur is the centre of the Chur Rhine valley, which reaches from the “Bündner Herrschaft” wine-growing region to the spectacular gorge of the Viamala. Whilst the “Bündner Herrschaft” with its centre of Maienfeld once inspired Johanna Spyri to pen her Heidi book and today produces outstanding Pinot Noir wines, Grüsch-Danusa, best known as a winter sports region, lies at the valley entrance to the Prättigau. To the west of Chur lies the Domleschg, the most castle-populated region of Switzerland and directly to the south of this Thusis, at the entrance to the steep Viamala gorge.
- Chur old town – Gothic old town dating from the 15th and 16th century, where the influences of the neighbouring countries remain visible today and attest to the skills of the Italian master builders.
- Grisons Art Museum – houses a collection of works by Angelika Kaufmann, Giovanni Segantini, Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni, August and Alberto Giacometti as well as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
- Giger Bar – a bar themed and modelled by the surrealist and “Alien” creator H.R. Giger, whose home town is Chur.
- Rhaetian Railway – Chur is the junction of world-renowned railway lines such as the Bernina Express from Chur to Tirano (Italy) via St. Moritz and the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur, Davos and St. Moritz.
- Culinary delights – the gateway to the Grisons holiday region offers the largest selection of Grisons specialities and wines from the “Bündner Herrschaft”.
- Chur town festival – held on the streets and squares of the Chur old town, with many delicacies from different cuisines and music from all genres (August).
- Open-air cinema – summer cinematic enjoyment in the open under starry skies in Fontana park (August).
- Alpine Beard Get-Together on the Brambrüesch – the wearers of Europe’s most rustic beards meet up annually to elect their grand master (August).
- Chur hit parade – music fans travel to the Grisons metropolis to meet up with the big stars from the world of hit music (September).