Located at an ancient European crossroads by the Simplon Pass into Italy, the small and picturesque town of Brig was on the route for Napoleon's road building to give his armies better communications around Europe. It is equally well placed today to give skiers rapid access to the major ski centres of the Swiss Valais, including Zermatt and Saas Fee.
Brig boasts many architectural treasures, dominated by the impressive Stockalper Castle, with its three gilded onion-domed towers and galleried court yard. The palace dates from the heyday of the town back in the 17th century under Kaspar von Stockalper, the greatest Valaisian merchant. He established a flourishing salt and silk trade between Milan and Lyons, and even organized the first postal service. Stockalper built his sumptuous palace in the town center. The three square towers form the corners of a great courtyard with three tiers of arcaded walkways. The palace was in the hands of the Stockalper family which had become impoverished, until 1948, when it was fully restored. In summer, every space is filled with flowerboxes.
The heart of Brig today, as for centuries past, runs up the Bahnhofstrasse, until it widens into two squares at the intersection with Rhonesandstrasse, and then Furkastrasse. Each square is focused on a fountain, monument or church. Most of this area is a car-free pedestrian zone lined with old buildings which have a certain Mediterranean flavor. Lined with shops and restaurants it makes a very pleasant base when off the slopes. As well as excellent skiing from Rosswald above the resort, reached by gondola, there are a dozen major ski centres within an hour's drive including Belalp, Riederalp, Bettmeralp, Bellwald, Fiesch and, a little further, Zermatt, Saas Fee, Saas Grund, Crans Montana and Leukerbad.