The origins of Stockalper Palace in Brig, Switzerland can be traced back to Kaspar Stockalper, a prominent Swiss merchant and politician who played a significant role in the economic and political development of the Valais region during the 17th century. In this article, we will explore the fascinating story of Stockalper Palace, including how it was constructed, and its current state.
Overview: Stockalper Palace in Brig, Switzerland
Stockalper Palace is located in Brig, in the Upper Valais region of Switzerland. This Swiss heritage site, situated at the heart of Brig and surrounded by gardens, is an officially recognized landmark.
Because of its fantastic location at the foot of the Simplon Pass, Brig has always been an important trade route. Brig was the shortest way from Italy to France and the other countries along the Rhine River. There can be no doubt that Kaspar Jodok Stockalper helped sustain the prosperity of this place with his business acumen.
In contrast to castles built on hillsides for defense, the central location of Stockalper Palace was likely based on strategic considerations. Since it was built by a wealthy merchant and politician, the location ensured easy access to the town’s resources. Its central location close to the town center reflects its commercial, political, and cultural significance. With this location, Kaspar Stockalper was able to manage both his commercial and political interests easier.
Stockalper Palace is currently owned by a public foundation, which is comprised of the Swiss Confederation, the Canton of Valais, the Municipality of Brig, and various cultural associations.
Who is Kaspar Stockalper?
As mentioned, the man behind much of the history of Stockalper Palace and the prosperity of Brig was Kaspar Stockalper, but the question remains: who was he exactly?
Kaspar Stockalper was a wealthy merchant. He was primarily engaged in the silk and salt trade, but also exported Valaisian Wine, operated mining businesses, and owned the thermal baths at Brigerbad. In addition, he held political office in Valais for several years. His activities were centered around the Stockalper Palace, the largest private residence in Switzerland.
Stockalper was one of the most controversial and complex politicians in the history of Brig. For a short time, he would be exiled from his home. There were probably several reasons why some people opposed him, including economic, political, and personal reasons.
History: Stockalper Palace
The construction of Stockalper Palace was financed by Kaspar Stockalper, but the most important people were the builders Christian, Balthasar, and Peter Bodmer. The builders were responsible for overseeing the planning, design, and construction of the building. Uli Jordan and Johann Baptist Miletto were the stonemasons. The main palace was built between 1658 and 1678.
Next to the smaller 16th century Gothic Stockalper House, the Stockalper Palace was constructed, forming a building complex that connects the old house with the newer palace via a bridge. Both structures share a similar architectural style, and the interior features a spacious rectangular courtyard that is open for visitors to explore.
Named after the Three Wise Kings – Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar – the three towers located on the northwest, southwest, and southeast corners of the Stockalper Palace are topped with onion-like domes. The palace itself is built in the Renaissance style, featuring a simple and symmetrical design, with sparsely colored windows. The interior of the palace is adorned with Tuscan arcades surrounding the courtyard, reminiscent of Italian architecture.
The Stockalper Palace has undergone multiple renovations over the centuries to ensure its proper preservation. Despite its age, the castle remains an impressive example of monumental architecture today.
Architecture: Stockalper Palace
Stockalper Palace is a remarkable showcase of Baroque architecture, making it one of the most significant examples of this style in Switzerland. 17th-century Europe was highly influenced by this aesthetic. Despite its Baroque elements, you can still observe remnants of late Gothic (such as the wide cross-stacked windows) and Renaissance styles in the palace.
The palace facade is large, yet the appearance is austere and understated with minimal ornamentation and decorative elements. It features three towers with onion-shaped domes. It features grey stonework and relatively small, simple windows.
Visiting the inner rooms of the palace would be a more fascinating experience, particularly the Knight’s Hall (Rittersaal in German) with its medieval beam ceilings, as well as the courtroom, featuring visual elements from Greek and Roman history. The rooms are adorned with stunning images, including 19th-century wallpapers from renowned companies such as Joseph Dufour, Jean Zuber & Cie., and Jacquemart & Bénard.
A large garden lies just outside the main entrance of the palace, surrounded by neatly arranged shrubs surrounding well-tended lawns.
How to Get to Stockalper Palace
Getting to Stockalper Palace from Brig train station is easy on foot. Come during a time when they’re having a guided tour and you’ll have the opportunity to explore Stockalper Palace’s historical rooms. For more information, check out the website of Valais.ch here.
|Address||Alte Simplonstrasse 28|
Neue Simplonstrasse 25
Final Thoughts: Stockalper Palace
For those interested in history, architecture, and cultural heritage, Stockalper Palace is definitely worth a visit. With its beautiful interior, stunning Baroque architecture, and historical and cultural importance, Brig’s palace is a must-see attraction in the canton of Valais.
An hour-long guided tour of the palace will reveal its rich history and many beautiful features. You will enjoy its extensive garden, pretty interiors, and courtyard with Tuscan arcades.
- Das Stockalperschloss in Brig. Nachrichten der Schweizerischen Vereinigung zur Erhaltung der Burgen und Ruinen (Burgenverein), XVI. Jahrgang 1943, Nr. 3 (Mai).
- Renfer, Christian and Eduard Widmer. Brig, Stockalperpalast. Schlösser und Landsitze der Schweiz, 1985.
- Ruppen, Walter. Der Stockalperpalast in Brig. Hauptwerke der Schweiz Kunst, 1994.