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Minchün ha da scuar avaunt seis üsch—
Each must sweep in front of his own door.
(Val Müstair proverb)


The doorway dates from Gothic times. Over the threshold lies the sulèr, or large entrance hall. Here, thousands of people have come and gone. Though the sound of their footsteps has died away between the meter-thick walls, they are not departed. Nor is it just the worn stone floor which brings to mind countless past guests; the sulèr holds signs of the past which conjure up a picture of life as it then was. The mats, for instance, left their mark. Near the front door there are innumerable small holes in the ceiling, which, even after 500 years, show with what force the mats thrust their halberds into the beams upon their return from sentry duty. This was the most practical place to keep their murderously sharp weapons.

The marks in the timber are so clear that the Bündner might have gone out only yesterday to fight Maximilian, and the single halberd in the ceiling today, kept there as a reminder of the Battle of the Calven, might simply have been forgotten by a rather confused mat. At any moment he could come clattering up the steps into the sulèr in his hob-nailed boots, sieze the halberd and hurry after his comrades.

One of the walls of the sulèr also bears the marks of war. There is a sketch just inside the front door on the left-hand wall showing two soldiers with charicatured features. The portraits might date from the year 1499 itself but, as the Chasa Chalavaina has housed soldiers on many occasions over the centuries, the sketch could equally well be of more recent date.

There are on the other hand some words written in oxblood on the wall just to the right of the door leading to the main public room, used by guests for eating and sitting. (In Rumantsch this room is called the stür, in German: Stube.) The lines are clearly dated. They were written by an Italian prisoner incarcerated in the cellar in 1696. He proclaims his misery, to the wall and to every reader from that day to this: "I regret the past, and fear the future." It is not known why he was locked up.

As those parts of the wall bearing the sketch and inscription have never been renovated, they also give information about the skills of craftsmen in earlier centuries. Running a hand over these areas, it is clear to an observer that the plasterwork is much finer than on the rest of the—renovated—wall. The plasterers' secret was to mix the plaster with egg-white.



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