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Haldenstein is the ideal starting point for biking or hiking tours up to 2,800-meter-high Calanda mountain. The mountain range between the Rhine and Tamina valleys is a fascinating landscape offering spectacular views down to the urban valley floor around Chur and onto the Alps. Not far from the village there is the climbing garden Haldenstein, considered the first of its kind in Switzerland. It was comprehensively renovated in 2012 and 2013. But those who are not out for an athletic challenge will feel just as at home in Haldenstein. The banks of the Rhine are the perfect scene for leisurely walks or cycling trips, horse rides and picnics.
Despite the short distance to the cantonal capital Chur, Haldenstein has retained its rural character to this day. However, things to get busy every other year in May, when the Garden Festival at Haldenstein Castle opens its doors to the delight of garden and plant lovers from near and far. It also offers numerous other attractions. Alternating with the Garden Festival, every other year Haldenstein Castle becomes the stage for impressive outdoor opera productions by the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Graubünden.
The area around Haldenstein has been settled during the medieval and Roman periods and as far back as prehistoric times. In the mid-12th century, the church of Haldenstein is first mentioned in a document. It was replaced by a new church in 1732. It's the only church in the bishopric of Chur that is dedicated to St. Gereon. The Reformation did not arrive in Haldenstein until the first half of the 17th century, nearly a century later than in neighbouring Chur.
Its location between Calanda mountain and the Rhine means that the village has faced many perils: In 1868, it was devastated by a flooding of the Rhine, and in 1971 there was a mudflow at Calanda. The village was hit by fire in 1825 and threatened again by a devastating forest blaze in 1943.
The impressive castle was built in the early 16th century. From 1544 to 1548 the structure was expanded and magnificently decorated. Part of it was panelling which today is at Köpenick Castle in Berlin. The castle was extended by a floor in 1731. One year later it was damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. From 1763, the north wing of the castle was home to the Phiantrhopinum, a well-known educational institution. Today, Haldenstein Castle hosts the Garden Festival and many other cultural events.
Haldenstein was originally a Romansh-speaking community, but Germanisation set in around the 14the century, even before it had reached Chur. Haldenstein gets its name from the castle above the village. Haldenstein Castle was build in the mid-12th century and was the seat of the house Haldenstein. The castle was inhabited until the end of the 17th century, before it was destroyed by earthquakes in 1769 and 1787. Another fortress, Lichtenstein Castle, was built in the 12th century and was located on a mountain ridge some distance north of the village. It was probably abandoned in the 15th century, after it had come into possession of the Lords of Haldenstein when the house of Lichtenstein died out at the end of the 13th century.
Halfway up mount Calanda, at about 1,400 metres above sea level, lies the abandoned settlement Batänja, formerly called Sewils. It was gifted to the brothers Hans, Dietrich and Jos Batänier, a family of Walser origin, by the nobleman Peter von Griffensee. It was inhabited until 1869 and even had its own school. Today, the landowners coordinate a great voluntary effort to ensure the upkeep of the buildings in Batänja.
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