Today could not have been more glorious. Ancient, quiet churches, high mountains, lunch at an old mountain hotel, lovely walks – all was wonderful.
We started out leaving Chur and going up the road to Rothenburn, where a painted castle stands high up on an outcrop overlooking the tiny village.
We walked up to the gate so that we could see it up close. It’s now owned by an unpopular politician who just uses it for meetings.
From here a path between meadows wound its way up a small hill to the church. St. George’s, Sogn Gieri in Romansh, is unassuming from the outside, but inside is a riot of color.
St. George and his dragon are painted on the flat wooden ceiling, while the walls are covered with paintings depicting Bible stories. I always like to see how Adam and Eve are portrayed.
The apse paintings have been well restored and are charming to behold.
We were very struck by the pews. Silla suggested that they were designed to have additional seating on top but we weren’t sure how that would work.
1741 is not so old in this part of the world, but it was a good period for graceful, simple architecture.
From here we went to the Via Mala (see following post). But first, a stop in Zillis to the famous St. Martin’s church. This was one of my clear memories from my year in Chur because of the mirrors you use to view the painted ceiling. I had forgotten the gorgeous setting: a valley set between high mountains (like most of this part of the world), with small villages dotting the landscape and snow on top of the mountains. But the church!
The exterior features an enormous painting of St. Christopher with the baby Jesus, although the church itself is dedicated to St. Martin. The nave/apse is painted in shades of cream, grey and red, simple and beautiful. But turn your eyes upwards to see the most amazing painted flat ceiling. I took no pictures, but here’s someone else’s photo.
Around the perimeter are pictures of fantastic half-land, half-sea creatures (fishy unicorn, swimmy wolf), but the rest depict stories from the life of Christ, from the Annunciation to Christ crowned in thorns.
We followed up with a visit to the nearby museum, featuring an informative slideshow about the history of the church and the provenance of the paintings.
A bonus on our way back – a herd of Swiss milk cows being moved through the village.We got to be up close and personal with them.
From here to Spluega. We parked by a big old hotel but Silla had another place in mind. We walked up and up through the village, encountering roadwork that made the route a bit confusing. Finally Silla found the little path around to the hotel, a Swiss Heritage hotel no less.
Inside was a very Swiss mixture of old and new, the old being the stone and wood structure – here is a view of the roof –
and the new a set of elegant, simple steps, and these beautiful windows showing off the view of the meadows and mountains beyond. Glorious. We had a simple lunch of dried meat and cheese and bread, and then we left this spectacular place for an even more amazing one.