Two small structures are looming large above the elongated alpine Rhine valley up from the Raeto-romanian village of Sumvigt: one dates back over a millennium featuring a stout (almost castle-like but for its size) chapel ruin now roofless and open towards the skies yet striking in its simple rectangular proportions: focusing the visitor on a round open window with now almost vanished triplet wave spike pattern above the massive though elegant altar, which is framed by hints of a pair of nearly completely eroded upward stretching column-shaped stands – the view extending along the seemingly endless valley towards the eternal snow of distant peaks.
Carrying on along the road up the mountain and passing through the hamlet of San Benedetg a few hundred meters higher up a different thing comes in sight. This one as recent as it defies a historic categorization of any kind. Zumthor’s oval meditation mound one might call it so as to set the blackened wood shingles structure apart from what is commonly understood by ‘chapel’. Next to it stands what from afar looks like a telephone pole – coming near it reveals itself to be the slimmest bell ‘tower’ ever made, consisting of two long planks held together by ladder type rungs and bending in concave swing towards the top where two bells hang underneath each other covered by a simply arched roof board. Entering the place is pure poetry:
Oval ship of wooden floor and ashen benches straight aligned in simple rows.
The walls’ matt shimmer of surrounding metal skin
Light belt of glass beneath the arched roof high above
Carried and structured by 2 x 18 rafters
Extending from its central ridge across and down
The buildings entirety
The light and shadow play herein
White prayer vase of alabaster
Aside the altar’s icon to the left
And invisible it seems
A tiny iron cross
At center stage
Move and rest