Graubünden - Culture of Construction

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Chantun Grischun
Cantone dei Grigioni
Romanesque Church Construction
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Kirche St. Luzi*

Über dem Hof | 7000 Chur/Cuira/Coira
For Switzerland, unique examples of a Carolingian annular crypt and a triple-nave Late Romanesque choir loft.

On the location of a St. Andrew memorial already in existence around 400 A.D., which was probably furnished with relics of the apostle and served as a burial vault of the first bishops of Chur, built as a Carolingian triapsidial hall in the 1st half of the 8th century (around 730?) as a burial vault for the powerful Viktoriden/Zacconen family. Takeover by Premonstratensians around 1140; subsequent Romanesque renovation and westward extension, consecrated 1295; Late Gothic vaulting and installation of new windows to the nave around 1500. Following the fire of 1811: removal of the choir tower and construction of two floors for the seminary above the church, new tower 1937; restored 1951-52 by Walther Sulser.

Bell in front of entrance dated 1789 by Ludwig Keiser. Nave with Carolingian masonry in the east part of the south wall; remnants of Romanesque pilasters in the east bay, remaining columns of the previous vault around 1500; flat wooden ceiling and organ loft 1951-52; mosaics and wall and glass paintings by Hans Baumhauer, 1951-1955; organ 1966. The choir loft, accessible by the side-stairs, consists of an anterior choir, the triple-nave choir and a rectangular sanctuary. The layout of the old Carolingian triapsidial choir marked on the floor. Late Gothic carved altar, composed of several artefacts from different sources: shrine with Mother of God and two saints (Luzius and Emerita?) from the charnel house in Cunter, shrine guardian figures Mary and St. John the Evangelist of unknown origin, the predella from Falera, antependium from Ruschein.

Crypt. A central staircase leads down to the Romanesque anterior crypt (hall crypt), which is opened toward the nave through three arcades and is divided into six groin-vaulted bays by four round pillars with renewed cubiform capitals, renovated 1991; an entranceway in the north wall (now sealed up) leading to a Late Antiquity-Early Mediaeval hypogeum, in front of which is the Pietà from the Cloister of St. John in Toggenburg from 2nd half of 14th century, restored 2000; in the west wall, 17th century gravestones of abbots. On both sides, several steps lead up to the barrel-vaulted Carolingian annular crypt. At the apex of its semi-circular passageway with multiple openings, the crypt features a westward tunnel to the centrally located Confessio (shrine and crypt altar). Above the Confessio’s western protective wall, a small window once opened into the anterior crypt, in front of which the relics of Saint Lucius were displayed; opening eastwards in the crest of the ambulatory, the barrel-vaulted crypt chamber (so-called Emerita Tomb), probably not erected until the 9th or 10th 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.)