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Graubünden, or Grisons, is one of 26 cantons contributing to Switzerland's territory. Located in the southeastern corner of the country, Grisons is the largest canton of Switzerland, covering an area of approximately 2,743 square miles.[12] The canton neighbors Italy to the south and east, Austria and Lichtenstein to the north, and the cantons of Uri and Ticino to the northwest and west. In terms of Grisons' geography, it is located in the mountainous area of the Alps, which cover all of the canton's territory. The highest peak is Piz Bernina, at an altitude of 4,049 meters above sea level. Apart from mountains and glaciers, numerous forests, alpine meadows, and even wine-growing regions contribute to the Grisons' nature.[1] However, the variety of outdoor activities and nature isn't the sole draw for many visitors to the canton of Graubünden. The region is also relatively rich in tradition and history. Its capital city, Chur, is the oldest town in Switzerland, with the first proofs of settlements reaching back approximately 5,000 years ago.[10] Graubünden region serves as a considerable tourist attraction as it offers summer and winter outdoor activities, as well as all-year-round experiences, such as hiking, cycling, and skiing, to name a few. One often recommended tour is the Alpine Circle, which takes visitors across several considerable places of interest.[7] 

What Graubünden is known for

Graubünden, also referred to as Grisons, is a naturally and geographically diverse region. For tourists seeking a variety of outdoor activities, Grisons canton might be considered one of the desirable destinations. The region offers the mountainous experience of the Alps, with over 40 ski areas and 2,200 km of slopes available to tourists during winter. Beyond skiing, the mountainous areas are also available for sledging, ice skating, hiking, and cross-country skiing during winter.[8] During summer months, peaks of the Alps showing panoramic views of the surrounding nature can be reached either by hiking, cycling, or mountain biking.[9] It is often recommended that visitors participate in the Alpine Circle tour. During the tour, one can experience the glaciers at the Diavolezza station, which reportedly offers the best view of the Bernina massif. Another stop along the tour is the Landwasser Viaduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. The tour continues to the Rhine Valley and Swiss Grand Canyon, where it is possible to experience canoe tours or river rafting. Finally, the last stop is the Swiss National Park, the only national park in Switzerland.[7] Beyond the mountains, in the Grisons canton, one can also find several vineyards. Allegedly, vineyards between Fläsch and Malans grow 42 different types of wines.

Regarding history and culture, the capital city of Graubünden canton, Chur, is the oldest in Switzerland. For this reason, Chur's old town is considered one of the "top" destinations in the canton. Reportedly, the settlement history of Chur can be dated back 5,000 years. To this day, the city has one of the relatively best-preserved old towns in Switzerland, with the predominant sight being the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. There is also St.Martin's Church from the 15th century and St.Lucius' Church with three apses dating back to the 8th century. Overlooking the old town lies the Cathedral and Episcopal Court, an 800-year-old cathedral known for its late Gothic golden high altar. Apart from the historical monuments, there is an abundance of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars, museums, and galleries in Chur.[10] There are also several UNESCO-protected sites. One of them is the St. Johann Monastery, home to one of the most extensive early medieval wall painting cycles, which can be dated back to the 9th century.[11]

In general, Graubünden is often regarded as one of the more culturally diverse cantons in Switzerland. Due to the predominantly mountainous alpine landscape, in which the canton is located, Grisons is typical of an isolated rural lifestyle. Several traditions, such as Alpine transhumance or the Chalandamarz, are still upheld in the region. Furthermore, an abundance of medieval castles scattered throughout the mountainous landscape of Grisons can be considered another draw to the canton.[1]


Graubünden, or Grisons, is Switzerland's largest canton. The territory is entirely situated in the Alps, making its landscape mountainous, diverse, and filled with various ecosystems. Due to its mountainous positioning, Grisons is Switzerland's second-highest elevated canton in terms of mean elevation. The highest point in the territory is Piz Bernina, with an altitude of 4,049 meters above sea level. However, the peak doesn't stand in solitude. It is closely followed by an abundance of mountains, prominent among them being the Piz Russein, Piz Kesch, Calanda, Aroser Rothorn, and Rheinwaldhorn, to name a few. Regarding water conditions in the Graubünden, the longest river flowing through the canton's territory is the Rhine River. Another predominant river, the Danube, also flows through the region. Apart from rivers, no larger bodies of water are found in the Grison area. However, there are several mountain lakes. The largest are Lake Sils, Lake Silvaplana, Lago di Poschiavo, and Lake St. Moritz.[1] 

Concerning the nature of Graubünden, there are several bio parks and protected areas to be found in the canton. UNESCO protects part of the mountains located in the Grisons territory as a World Heritage Site, called the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. The local mountain range is protected, as it is one of a few examples of a landscape being created by continental collision. In this particular case, the collision of Europe and Africa.[3] However, presumably, the most important natural feature of the Grisons canton is that it is the home to Switzerland's only national park. The Swiss National Park comprises several habitats, with diverse animal and plant species inhabiting them. There are high alpine habitats with relatively sparse vegetation, the alpine meadow habitat with a variety of plant species, and the Pass dal Fuorn forests, the most extensive mountain pine forests in the Alps. Additionally, there are mixed alpine forests, a haven for alpine wildlife, and a number of plant and tree species, such as spruce, larch, cembra pine, and mountain pine.[5] The animals inhabiting Swiss National Park are Red Deer, Ibexes, Chamoises, Foxes, Marmots, and Eagles, to name a few.[4] 

Compared to the rest of Switzerland, the diversity of climate is relatively high in the Graubünden canton as well.[1] Regarding the average temperatures in the canton's capital, Chur, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 19°C. January is the coldest month, with 0°C as the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in Chur due to having 53 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving, on average, about 151 mm.[6]


Raeti people of Celtic origin initially settled the valleys of the Graubünden Alps. Raetia served as one of the Roman provinces during the Roman era, established in 15 BC.[12] Later, in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Graubünden territory was part of the Duchy of Swabia. However, during the Middle Ages, territorial reforms took place, leading to the bishop of Chur and the monastery becoming prominent territorial lords of the Grisons canton. Only some portion of smaller territories within Grisons belonged to other counts and lords. Thus, in the Late Middle Ages, the Graubünden territory was composed of numerous independent judicial communities committed to one another through other agreements and leagues, forming the Three Leagues. In 1450, the separated federations came together to create an independent state, which became an ally of the Swiss Confederation in 1497.[2] 

The name of the canton Graubünden refers to one of the leagues of the territory. The first league, the Gotteshausbund ("League of the House of God"), was founded in 1367 to stem the bishop's power over the Grisons' territory. However, the canton's name is derived from the second league, the Grauerbund or the "Gray League," which was established in 1395. The league was named gray due to the traditional gray cloth worn by the man of Grauerbund. The third league of the already mentioned "Three Leagues" was established in 1436 and was called Zehngerichtenbund ("League of the Ten Jurisdictions"). The Three Leagues allied in 1471.[12]

In the following time period, the population of Graubünden was religiously divided between Catholics and Protestants. Both parties were trying to acquire control of Grisons, as the territory was mainly valuable for the numerous alpine passes in the mountainous area. During that time, several disagreements and fights resulting in the deaths of multiple people due to their beliefs took place in Grisons. Later, in 1798, when the situation calmed down, Grisons became part of the Helvetic Republic, named then the canton of Raetia. Since 1814, the territory was part of the Empire of Austria and later, in 1859, joined the Kingdom of Italy. Finally, in 1803, Grisons became one of Switzerland's cantons.[1]