Chur, the capital of the Graubünden canton (state/province), is Switzerland’s oldest city. It has been continuously inhabited since Roman times, but archaeological evidence has turned up evidence of inhabitation in the bronze and iron ages (over 11,000 years ago).
Like many european towns, Chur’s old town is car-free. This helps give it a great atmosphere. In 1464, much of Chur burned in a massive fire. It was rebuilt by German artisans who left their mark. The old town is rich with great architecture that looks a bit more German than the nearby Heidiland.
It is one the largest city with the most amenities between Zurich and Milan. Better yet, it has hiking trails and ski lifts that leave from the city itself! About 50% of the area around the city is forests. In a matter of minutes, you can walk from the old town to mountain forests. Love it!
Chur has the highest average temperature of all Swiss cities. Its location in a protected valley at foot of important Alpine passes gives it the “Föhn”, (a warm wind from the Swiss mountains). and wins with his vineyards a special picture. Graubünden, is famous for its fine wines. Some of the more famous ones, Gravedona, Menaggio, Dongo, are the names of nearby towns.
Wine isn’t the only thing to drink in Chur. Mineral quality water flows from the city’s taps and fountains. We tasted it. They weren’t lying. It’s pretty darn good. The water comes from the springs in the nearby Rabiosa Gorge (4 km/2.5 miles from Chur).
Although we had a wonderful meal filled with local specialities, Chur is cosmopolitan enough to boast over 130 divers restaurants that include French, Italian, Spanish, Thai, Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Indonesian and Chinese. That’s not bad for a little town in Heidiland.
We visited Chur in eastern Switzerland because it was the starting point for the Bernina Express, one of Switzerland’s epic train journeys. After a visit, we’ve deemed it worthy of a return trip. It’s a cute town and a great starting point for outdoor activities. It is also a convenient place from which to travel to the more expensive St. Moritz, Davos and Klosters.
Chur is not pronounced like you might expect. To complicate matters, it is pronounced differently in Swiss German, French and Italian. In French (don’t quote me not this) it is pronounced like “Coire.” In Swiss German, it sounds like “Kur.” When in doubt, just point to it on a map, smile and pull our your best “bitte,” “mercy,” or “prego”.