Graubünden - Culture of Construction

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Romanesque Church Construction
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Doppelkapelle St. Ulrich und Nikolaus

7537 Müstair
Part of the Benedictine Cloister of St. John the Baptist (UNESCO World Heritage Site), in the west wing of the northern courtyard (not accessible), built in the middle of the 11th century. The vaulting was added at the latest by 1626, at the same time as the decorative façade painting. The unstructured square choir in the lower chapel and the half-round choir with round arch blinds of the upper church extend into the cloister yard.

The lower St. Ulrich Chapel with a groin vault in the nave; in the choir stuccowork in the vault*, work of high quality from the 11th / 12th centuries. Relief of angels (probably symbols of the Evangelists) and ornamental bands of acanthus, grapes and palmettes with an antique finish; the outstanding Romanesque stucco decoration in the St. Ulrich Chapel represents a late stage in the tradition of high quality stuccowork already seen in the pre-Carolingian period in Disentis and in the Carolingian period in San Salvatore in Brescia, in the Tempietto of Cividale (Friaul) and in St Benedict in Mals.

In the St. Nicholas Chapel is a groined cross vault in the nave, a semi dome in the choir; a Baroque altar of high quality, 1758, with an altar retable from the 17th century; on the left choir arch wall are the remains of Romanesque wall paintings.

Next to the St. Ulrich Chapel, in the so-called Norpert Hall, are fragments of a Romanesque wall painting with the Life, Passion and Ascension of Christ, probably from the second half of the 12th century.

The living spaces for the bishop are in the same wing. In the entrance hall to the prince’s room are wall paintings from 1659: coats of arms of abbesses and nuns of noble birth with their patron saints, on the north wall is Charlemagne between the coats of arms of Austria and Tyrol, on the east wall is the coat of arms of Bishop Johannes Flugi of Aspermont (1636 – 61); on the ceiling of the Prince’s room is the coat of arms of the Abbess Ursula III Karl von Hohenbalken 1642. Wardrobe with scale pilasters; tower stove from 1642 with colourful glazed, relief-tiles decorated with figures; chests and smaller furniture from the 16th – 17th century.

(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.)

Das Benediktinerinnenkloster St. Johann in Müstair, Schweizerische Kunstführer GSK, Nr. 733/ 734, Bern 2003.