344 Route 94. VIA MALA. From Coire
ing been ascertained to change their positions. — By Tschappina and over
the Glas Pass to the Safier-Thal (4 hrs. to Platz), see p. 332.
The view from the Nolla bridge is striking. In the background
of the valley towers the barren Piz Beverin (9843'). The Rheinthal
appears to be entirely enclosed by lofty mountains. The right bank
of the gorge from which the Rhine issues is guarded by the ruined
castle of Hohen-Rhaetien, or Hoch-Realta (Hoch-Ryalt), 807' above
the river, the most ancient in Switzerland, having been founded,
according to tradition, in B.C. 589, by the legendary hero Rhaetus,
leader of the Etruscans when retreating before the Cauls, (iooil
paths ascend to it in 3/4hr. from Thusis and Siis (see above). The
ruin is on the S. side of the hill, which overlooks the whole of the
Domleschg; on the N. side is the dilapidated Church of St. John,
the oldest Christian church in the valley.
From 1470 to 1822 the route ascended the bank of the Nolla
through wood, and entered the gorge above Rongellen (see below).
The path through the gorge, the famous *Via Mala, was then only
4' wide, and followed the left bank the whole way. In 1S22 the
new road was constructed, and the old path through the gorge con¬
siderably widened. The limestone-rocks rise almost perpendicularly
on both sides to a height of 1600'. At the h'dnzeli, near the
entrance, the retrospective view is very fine. A little farther on,
l'/4 M. from Thusis, the road passes through a half-open gallery,
with overhanging rocks, and then through the Verlorne l.oeli , a
tunnel 55 yds. long, penetrating the projecting rock. From a point
beyond the tunnel, where the side-wall ceases and the wooden
railings recommence, the boisterous river is visible at the bottom
of the profound gorge. The *View down the sombre defile, of the
solitary tower of Hohen - Rhietien , and the sunny slopes of the
Heinzenberg beyond, is very striking.
Near the (3/4 M.) post-station (auberge) of the hamlet of Rongel¬
len, the gorge expands into a small basin, and soon contracts again.
The road crosses the river three times at short intervals : 3/4 M., first
bridge, built in 1738; i/4M. *SecondBridge (2844'), built in 1739,
the grandest point. The Rhine, 160' below the road, winds through
so narrow a ravine that the precipices above almost meet. In Aug.,
1S34, and Sept., 1K08, the river rose to within a few feet id' the
arch of the bridge. At the (1 M.) third bridge (2903'; built in
1834) the Via Mala ends.
We now enter the Schamser Thai, the green meadows and
cheerful dwellings of which contrast pleasantly with the gloomy Via
Mala. In the background to the S. rises the pointed Hirli (9373'J.
Above the old bridge, the Rhine forms a small waterfall. The first
village in the valley of Schams is (1 M.) —
2 M. Zillis, Rom. Ciraun (30111'; Post), with the oldest church
in the valley (nave and tower Romanesque; interesting ceilinsi-
paintings of the 12th cent.).