Graubünden Tourism


Graubünden and its capital Chur can look back at over 11,000 years of settlement history, undoubtedly enough time for domestic traditions to emerge. With annual historic festivals such as Chalandamarz in the Engadine and Pschuuri in Splügen shaping the rustic culture of the largest holiday region in Switzerland as much as the diversity of languages. Indeed, Graubünden is the only region of Switzerland under the influence of three cultures and languages, namely German, Romansh, and Italian.

Graubünden – a journey into the past!

The canton of Graubünden was formerly a Free State of the Three Leagues and only became a Swiss canton in 1803. The Raethian pass land, populated since the Middle Stone Age, was conquered by the Romans shortly before the beginning of our era. The Romans recognised the region for its strategic and commercial value, it was regarded as part of the Raetia Prima province of their empire. The Roman influence has had a long-lasting effect on Switzerland and Graubünden in particular, Romansh is still widely spoken throughout the canton and the town of Chur is still deeply rooted in Christian traditions – Chur has been a diocesan town since 451 AD.

Largely unaffected by mass migration, Graubünden became a de facto independent Church state from the seventh century under the indigenous dynasty of the Victorians and joined East Franconia, the later German Reich, upon the imperial partition in 843. However, the bishop of Chur and the abbot of Disentis, both caretakers of critical mountain pass-paths for the Emperor, built largely independent feudal states.

In the 14th Century, the Cathedral capital, the valley communities, and the city of Chur joined a common defensive line, the later League of the House of God (Gotteshausbund). This was followed in 1395 by the Grey or Upper League and the League of the Ten Jurisdictions in 1436. Both were to assure the independence and peace of the land. The general League Treaty in 1524, the first Graubünden’ Bundesbrief, provided the Jurisdiction communities of the three Leagues with a common constitution. The «Free State of the Communities of the Three Leagues» was born. As such, it embodied a certain state form where the Jurisdiction communities were largely autonomous. In the 17th Century, given the importance of its passes as strategic European crossroads, the mountain country fell back again under the crossfire of warring superpowers.

Not even during the French Revolution era did peace return. French and Austrian armies fought fierce battles over the Graubünden’ passes. The Helvetic Republic confederation issue divided the Leagues in two once again until, in 1891, Napoleon declared the union with Switzerland. Finally, Graubünden became formally a Swiss canton upon the mediation of 1803.

History of Graubünden

15 BC The Romans conquer and take control over Graubünden
8th century AD  Integration of Rhaetia by Charlemagne
11000 AD Gradual germanization of Currätiens
13th century Migration of the Walser
1352 Feud between Werdenberg and Belmont
1512 Conquest of the Valtellina
1524 Constitution of the Three Leagues
1618–1639 Grison turmoil during the Thirty Years' War
1803 Demise of the Free State and affiliation with the Confederation
1815 Valtellina lost permanently after Vienna’s Congress
1830–1870 Period of change
1854 New constitution, division of cantons into districts, counties, and municipalities
1880 Start of tourism
1926 Approval of automobile traffic
1938 Recognition of Romansh as fourth national language


The Ibex – the heraldic animal of the Grisons

The Ibex – A symbol of the Graubünden

The Ibex is a huge part of mountain life. Visitors see them everywhere, not only in the wild but also on the cantonal shield, on car license plates and painted emblems on building walls. The Ibex also gives its name to many hotels and restaurants and if you take a closer look can even be spotted in our Graubünden logo. To catch a site of the famous Ibex, head to the higher more remote mountain regions, they are a wonderful site to behold in their natural habitat.

Today's representation of the Graubünden emblem was established by the Small Council (Todays Government) on the 8th November 1932 and approved by the Federal Council in February 1933. Until then, the Graubünden official emblem, unchanged since the canton was founded in 1803, was based on the heraldic shields of the three individual leagues:

  • Grey or Upper League (1395) divided shield (white, black)
  • League of the House of God (1367) black, upright Capricorn
  • League of the Ten Jurisdictions (1436) four-area shield / cross (blue, yellow)

The Graubünden canton is named after the former political weight of the Three Leagues, from which it arises. Founded in the 1395, the Grey League was so named for the first time in 1442. At that time, it used possibly Zurich and Austrian nicknames before its name was assumed by the league people in 1486. In the 15th Century, the name for the other three leagues referred to all the leagues. In the 16th Century, humanists assigned the name of the Roman province Rätia as Rhaetia to the territory of the Three Leagues. In 1799, the leagues of Napoleon were incorporated as Canton Rhaetia of Switzerland. The name is still common today for institutions such as the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) and the Rhaetian Museum in Chur. Since the constitution of the modern canton of the Swiss Confederation in 1803, Graubünden is the official name. The State emblem still comprises emblems of the Three Leagues.

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