Eastern Switzerland and Graubünden

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t Sunlight bathing the vineyards on the hills outside the city of Chur

Experience Eastern Switzerland and Graubünden

Traversed by the Rhine, which flows through the Bodensee, eastern Switzerland is a relatively low-lying region of lush pastures and rural outposts, rising up into the high Alps at its most southerly extent. Known as Rhaetia in medieval times, much of the eastern part of Switzerland evolved strong German connections, in both trade and culture, while to the south, the rugged terrain increasingly cut communities off from would-be invaders.

As the Swiss Confederation spread its reach, most of the cantons to the east were partial members or subject territories, but following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, two cantons were given full status: St Gallen and Graubünden. A university town, St Gallen has been a seat of learning since 747 when a Benedictine monastery was founded, requiring the contemplative study of books and the presence of a library. That library is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, housing some 170,000 documents. Graubünden joined the Swiss Confederate in 1803, but it was in 1864 that it really came into its own – a hotelier in St Moritz lured summer residents back to stay for free that winter, and with this gesture, Swiss Alpine tourism was born. Home to some of the country’s best ski slopes and greatest resorts, Graubünden is now a major centre for winter sports, and half of its population is involved in the tourist industry.

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