COIRE (Ger. Chur or Cur, Ital. Coira, Lat. Curia Raetorum, Romonsch Cuera), the capital of the Swiss canton of the Grisons. It is built, at a height of 1949 ft. above the sea-level, on the right bank of the Plessur torrent, just as it issues from the Schanfigg valley, and about a mile above its junction with the Rhine. It is overshadowed by the Mittenberg (east) and Pizokel (south), hills that guard the entrance to the deep-cut Schanfigg valley. In 1900 it contained 11,532 inhabitants, of whom 9288 were German-speaking, 1466 Romonsch-speaking, and 677 Italian-speaking; while 7561 were Protestants, 3962 Romanists and one a Jew. The modern part of the city is to the west, but the old portion, with all the historical buildings, is to the east. Here is the cathedral church of St Lucius (who is the patron of Coire, and is supposed to be a 2nd-century British king, though really the name has probably arisen from a confusion between Lucius of Cyrene - miswritten "curiensis" - with the Roman general Lucius Munatius Plancus, who conquered Raetia). Built between 1178 and 1282, on the site of an older church, it contains many curious medieval antiquities (especially in the sacristy), as well as a picture by Angelica Kaufmann, and the tomb of the great Grisons political leader (d. 1637) Jenatsch (q.v.). Opposite is the Bishop's Palace, and not far off is the Episcopal Seminary (built on the ruins of a 6th-century monastic foundation). Not far from these ancient monuments is the new Raetian Museum, which contains a great collection of objects relating to Raetia (including the geological collections of the Benedictine monk of Disentis, Placidus a Spescha (1752-1833), who explored the high snowy regions around the sources of the Rhine). One of the hospitals was founded by the famous Capuchin philanthropist, Father Theodosius Florentini (1808-1865), who was long the Romanist curé of Coire, and whose remains were in 1906 transferred from the cathedral here to Ingenbohl (near Schwyz), his chief foundation. Coire is 74 m. by rail from Zürich, and is the meeting-point of the routes from Italy over many Alpine passes (the Lukmanier, the Splügen, the San Bernardino) as well as from the Engadine (Albula, Julier), so that it is the centre of an active trade (particularly in wine from the Valtelline), though it possesses also a few local factories.
The episcopal see is first mentioned in 452, but probably existed a century earlier. The bishop soon acquired great temporal powers, especially after his dominions were made, in 831, dependent on the Empire alone, of which he became a prince in 1170. In 1392 he became head of the league of God's House (originally formed against him in 1367), one of the three Raetian leagues, but, in 1526, after the Reformation, lost his temporal powers, having fulfilled his historical mission (see Grisons). The bishopric still exists, with jurisdiction over the Cantons of the Grisons, Glarus, Zürich, and the three Forest Cantons, as well as the Austrian principality of Liechtenstein. The gild constitution of the city of Chur lasted from 1465 to 1839, while in 1874 the Burgergemeinde was replaced by an Einwohnergemeinde.
AUTHORITIES - A. Eichhorn, Episcopatus Curiensis (St Blasien, 1797); W. von Juvalt, Forschungen über die Feudalzeit im Curischen Raetien, 2 parts (Zürich, 1871); C. Kind, Die Reformation in den Bisthümern Chur und Como (Coire, 1858); Conradin von Moor, Geschichte von Curraetien (2 vols., Coire, 1870-1874); P. C. von Planta, Das alte Raetien (Berlin, 1872); Idem, Die Curraetischen Herrschaften in der Feudalzeit (Bern, 1881); Idem, Verfassungsgeschichte der Stadt Cur im Mittelalter (Coire, 1879); Idem, Geschichte von Graubünden (Bern, 1892).
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)