Welcome to my place ... Chur, Switzerland
Anna Lardi Fogarty shares her suggestions for woodland walks, medieval buildings and fine local wines in her hometown
Chur, Switzerland. Photograph: iStock
Anna Lardi Fogarty is executive director of Music for Galway, whose Midwinter Festival – Swansong – continues to run this weekend at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre. Originally from Switzerland, Anna grew up in Chur, the oldest city in the country and capital of Grisons, the most easterly canton of Switzerland.
Where is the first place you always bring people to when they visit Chur?
I love taking people to the Bündner Kunstmuseum, the city museum. I find this a remarkable place. In a relatively small town of 35,000 inhabitants, the museum is an astonishing piece of cultural infrastructure. Originally housed in the Villa Planta, a private home built in 1875, it has been used to exhibit cultural artefacts since 1919. A first extension was built in 1980, and a second one, designed by Spanish architects Barozzi & Veiga, opened in 2016. This is a bold piece of architecture in the centre of Chur that respects the old Villa Planta and reflects the other buildings that surround it. The museum has works by Angelika Kaufmann (born in Chur in 1741 and one of two female founding members of the British Academy), and Alberto Giacometti, the ground breaking surrealist sculptor and painter, as well as HR Giger, creator of the creature in Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.
The top three things to do there that don’t cost money are . . .
Go for a nice long walk in the Fürstenwald. The woods above Chur are extensive and beautiful, and on a clear day you will get a wonderful view of the city and also of the Oberland, the high valley where one of the two initial branches of the Rhine starts.
Go down to the Rhine (in Chur the two branches of the Rhine have already joined) and jam with the river itself on an instrument of your choice. Legendary jazz saxophonist Werner Lüdi was well known for doing just this.
Take a walk through the Altstadt, the old part of Chur. This beautifully preserved medieval centre holds many gems, one of which is the cathedral, whose origins date back to the 8th century. Stroll around the stunning Arcas Square with its cafes and exposed timber frame houses and take time to explore the Oberegasse and Unteregasse with its many lovely shops.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives the flavour of Chur?
For a great meal you can stay in the area and go to the Hofkellerei. Part of the cathedral complex, and set into its walls, this must be one of the city’s oldest restaurants, open since 1522. Nice and snug, surrounded by the century old wood panel insulation and in the heat of the ancient stove, a visit here feels like time travel. The menu boasts traditional Grisons meals and you will be able to wash it all down with fine wines from the bishop’s vineyards, which are situated just a few yards away.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Chur’s history?
You could do worse than take a good look around the cathedral. With elements that span its 1,200 years of history, it has accompanied Chur through a good chunk of the city’s existence. Chur became the biggest and most important settlement of the region, capital of the Three Leagues until they joined Switzerland in 1803.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Chur?
Plenty of food items such as cured Grisons-Meat (beef) and cured hams, local alpine cheeses, Churer Pfirsichstei (Chur peach stones , which are made of marzipan) and last but not least, a small bottle of Rötali (cherry liqueur). And don’t forget the significant amount of data storage for the many photos that you are going to take!
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