European & UK Late Summer Destinations
By Georgia Shipley
4 July 2019
Late summer and early autumn are a great time to travel, it’s not too hot and the excitement of children’s school holidays has calmed down.Read more
Modern-day Brig, a town in the Valais canton of southern Switzerland, was formed by the merger of three smaller communes, the original Brig and its neighbours Brigerbad and Glis, in 1970. Situated close to the border, many of Brig's buildings are Italian in style although the town is otherwise typically Swiss.
First mentioned by name in the thirteenth century, Brig became prosperous thanks to its proximity to the Simplon Pass, an ancient trade route through the Alps that connects the town with Piedmont in Italy. Since the nineteenth century, when the pass was used for the transportation of military supplies during the Napoleonic Wars, it has been significantly widened, improved and made safe. This, and the arrival of the railway in 1906, contributed significantly to Brig's subsequent establishment as a tourist destination.
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Today, Brig is a charming and picturesque town which boasts many fine historic buildings among its attractions, including the unmissable seventeenth-century Stockalper Castle which dominates the town's skyline. Sebastiansplatz, Brig's pedestrianised and bustling central square, bordered by cafes and restaurants, is a great spot to stop for lunch and adjoins the town's main shopping area.
A preferred base for skiers, climbers and winter sports enthusiasts, Brig is also an excellent resort from which to explore Valais' spectacular natural beauty and visit neighbouring Alpine villages or to cross the border into northern Italy.
Dating from the early seventeenth-century and dedicated to Saint Sebastian the Martyr, this small and pretty half-timbered white chapel is notable for its beautiful Baroque altar which features a painting of Saint Sebastian in Roman uniform being crowned by angels.
Built between 1651 and 1671 and named after its owner, the rich entrepreneur, trader, financier and politician Kaspar Stockalper, Brig's magnificent castle was Switzerland's largest privately-built construction in the seventeenth century. Today the castle, instantly recognisable by its three tall towers with gilded domes, houses Brig's municipal and administrative offices, but guided tours are available and the castle's impressive courtyard is freely open to visitors.
A few minutes by bus from central Brig, Brigerbad Thermal Spa is Switzerland's largest outdoor thermal spa and amongst its many facilities features Europe's first swimming pool set in a natural cave, six outdoor pools, a jet-stream massage bath, and a 182-metre-long water slide.