San Gian (St. John) in Celerina

The first mention of the church of San Gian (St. John) in Celerina (Schlarigna in Romansh, Canton Graubünden) dates back to 1320. In 1478, the extension of the nave to the west and the vaulting of the choir took place.

Although these churches are small, their location on a hill gives them a monumental appearance. They can be seen all over Graubünden. The church does not have only a prominent place but also two towers and a remarkable interior.

The smallest Romanesque tower was built around 1300. At that time, the church was still facing east. In 1478, the church was enlarged and turned more to the west. The Romanesque tower was integrated into this new ensemble.

The construction of the new late Gothic tower was only completed in 1520. However, the Romanesque tower could no longer be removed without affecting the new church. For this practical reason, it remained standing. Perhaps it was providence because, in 1682, lightning destroyed the roof and bell of the new tower. It was not repaired since the village had built a tower with a clock in the centre in 1665.

The wooden ceiling inside the church is one of the finest and best-preserved in the canton, along with the churches in Pontresina and Bergün/Bravuogn.

The bishop of Chur, Ortlieb von Brandis (1458-1491), had his family crest and the coat of arms of the Gottesnhausbund (the ibex), and his coat of arms (ibex and burning wood) as bishop Ortlieb von Brandis inserted into the ceiling. The Brandis castle contains a fresco by the Waltensburg Meister.

The coat of arms of burning wood of the lords of Brandis

The church has several frescoes from the 15th century. During the reformation, they were limed over and are in good condition today.

Source: R. Muggli, O. Emmenegger, Kirche San Gian bei Celerina/Schlarigna, Bern 1993

Celerina’s most famous resident, Federal President Anton Ganzoni