122km (76 miles) SE of Zurich; 59km (37 miles) W of Davos

The capital of the Grisons, Chur is the oldest town in Switzerland. According to recent excavations, the area was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. The Romans established a settlement in 15 B.C., naming it Curia Rhaetorum. In 450 B.C., a recently Christianized Chur became the see of a bishop.

Set at an elevation of 586m (1,922 ft.), Chur lies near the head of the Rhine Valley, surrounded by towering mountains. The Plessur River, a tributary of the Rhine, flows through the center of town. Chur is at the natural junction of several of the most important routes from Italy over the alpine passes, and as a result, incorporates both Italian and Rhaetian influences.

Favored by visitors, who appreciate the wilderness surrounding it, Chur is the largest mercantile center between Zurich and Milan. It's also an important rail center, a terminal for several of the most scenic railway lines in Switzerland: the narrow-gauge rail line to St. Moritz (the Rhätische Bahn), the Chur-Arosa line, the Glacier Express, the Palm Express, and the Bernina Express. You might also go to Splügen, said to have the prettiest mountain-pass village in the area.

Chur also offers a variety of sports facilities. Summer sports include hiking and mountain biking. A pair of swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, lies within the Sportanlagen Obere (tel. 081/254-42-88), as well as a gymnasium and health club. Access to either of the pools costs 8F for adults and 5F for children ages 6 to 15, free for children 5 and under. Access to the gym costs 16F for everyone, but entrance is restricted to persons who can present a membership card from any other gym or health club, presumably as a means of determining that the bearer is familiar with how to exercise safely. In the winter, skiers have access to the top 20 ski areas surrounding Chur, some of which reach 2,700m (8,856 ft.) and are only 1 1/2 hours away.

Chur's Old Town is best discovered on foot. The route outlined by the city is the most scenic and most historic. You travel at your own pace, just following in the footsteps of others. In addition, the tourist office provides German-language guided tours that depart from the tourist office every Wednesday at 2:30pm, but only between April and October. Participation in any of the guided tours costs 12F for adults, 6F for children ages 6 to 16, free for children 5 and under.