Graubünden - Culture of Construction

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Chantun Grischun
Cantone dei Grigioni
The Early Christian Period
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Ehemalige Kirche St. Stephan*

Arosastrasse 2 | 7000 Chur/Cuira/Coira
Remains of an early Christian cemetery covered by a single-nave hall church.

The gravesite, most likely established by the Bishop of Chur around 440 (model in shelter); an early Christian hall church with apse, priests’ bench, north and south annexes from the early 6th century verified by the 1955-57 excavations (their layout is marked with plaster stones in the yard); remains of a floor mosaic discovered in 1851, belonging to the original church.

The hypogeum consists of a square room with an entry hall and the remains of a barrel-vault ceiling; in the floor are regularly spaced gravesites, in the entry hall a simple sarcophagus from the late antique period. The side walls show decorative paintings with facsimiles of marble incrustations in geometric patterns. Above these are vines and doves. On the shield wall is an apsidole-niche, which had originally been painted and in which are the remains of a later mosaic of the rivers of paradise; under the floor plates is a relics grave; on both sides of the niche are fragments of pictures of six striding apostles. The former Church of St Stephan can be seen today in the building shelter below the school-yard of the present-day Cantonal School Halde, which is above the cathedral.

(Kunstführer durch Graubünden, Hg. Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte. Eng. translation of the title: Art Guide of Graubünden, ed. Society for the History of Swiss Art, Zurich 2008. This book has only been published in German.)