Brig Tourist Attractions
The historic little town of Brig, on the south bank of the Rhône, is the capital of the German- speaking upper Valais (Oberwallis) and an important junction on the Simplon, Lötschberg, Furka-Oberalp and Brig-Visp-Oberalp railroads. It has a number of notable buildings and is also the starting-point of the great roads over the Simplon, the Furka and Nufenen passes.Brig was already of importance in Roman times as a staging point on the north side of the Simplon pass. Its name comes from its situation between two bridges (over the Rhône and the Saltina). It later became the see of a bishop, and enjoyed a period of great prosperity in the time of Kaspar Jodok Stockalper.
The most notable building in Brig is the Stockalperschloss, the finest Baroque palace in Switzerland, which the town bought from the Stockalper family in 1948. Since then it has been thoroughly renovated and restored by a trust, with financial assistance from the Federal government, the canton and the town. This imposing structure, dominated by three square gabled towers, was built by the great Valais merchant Prince Kaspar Jodok Stockalper von Thurm (1609-91), who had occupied all the leading positions in the land. The palace, built between 1658 and 1678, pointed the way towards a great flowering of the baroque in Valais. It now houses, in addition to the family library of the "King of the Simplon" and 12,000 documents, the archives of the Upper Valais Historical Society, the Valais Institute (Walser-Institut) and the Museum of the Upper Valais (May-October). Also here are the Matza and Jadok galleries which both have special exhibitions.
Pilgrimage Church of Unsere Lieber Frau
West of Brig, on the Glisacker, stands the pilgrimage church of Unsere liebe Frau (ca. 1540), representing the final phase of medieval architecture (Gothic and Renaissance), which contains the finest works of art in this part of Switzerland.
Church of Spiritus Sanctus
Near the Stockalperschloss in Brig are the collegiate church of Spiritus Sanctus (1675-85) and the Gothic St Antony's chapel.
Historic Houses near the Palace
Of interest in Brig are the Fernanda Stockalper house (18th C.) opposite the Stockalperschloss, the Wegener house (17th-19th C.) and the Theiler house in Simplonstrasse.
Dr. Tar Monument
The monument to Dr Ernest Guglielmetti (known as "Dr Goudron" - i.e."Dr Tar"), inventor of the asphalt-surfaced road, is in the Marktplatz to the north of the Stockalperschloss in Brig.
Monument to Aviator Geo Chavez
In Brig's Sebastianplatz there is a fountain commemorating the Peruvian aviator Geo Chavez, who flew over the Simplon for the first time in 1910.
Surrounding towns of Brig include Brigerbad, Visp, Visperterminen and Raron.
On the north bank of the Rhône is Brigerbad (alt. 655 m/2,149ft; pop. 185) with the first thermal swimming bath in a cave (air-conditioned, 38- 42 deg C/100-108 deg F) and the largest open-air thermal baths in the country.
9km/6mi southwest of Brigerbad is Visp (alt.660 m/2,165ft), a little town of 4,000 inhabitants beautifully situated at the mouth of the Vispa valley, up which runs the road to Zermatt and Saas Fee. Remains of town walls; old houses with coats-of-arms. On a crag above the Vispa is a large church of 1761 with a Romanesque tower, and higher up the hill St Martin's church (1651, altered 1963), with an arcaded porch.
From Visp a road winds its way up the east side of the Vispa valley for 10.5km/7mi to the village of Visperterminen (1,340 m/4,397ft), surrounded by a network of irrigation channels. From the village a path, with Stations of the Cross, climbs to the pilgrimage chapel of the Visitation (17th C.: old organ). Chair-lift from Visperterminen to Giw (1,925 m/6,316ft).
The Aletsch Glacier, the largest stretch of firn in the Alps, is a splendid natural feature.