The Stockalper Palace built between 1658 and 1678 by Kaspar Stockalper, a silk merchant of Brig. It was the largest private construction in Switzerland at the time.
The first building on the site is known as the Stockalper House, which was built in 1532 by Peter Stockalper. Over the following century it was expanded toward the north, but it remained generally unchanged until the rise of Kaspar Stockalper. Kaspar Stockalper was born to a wealthy family in Brig on 14 July 1609. After studying at the university in Freiburg im Breisgau from 1627 to 1629, he returned to Brig and began building an extensive trading empire. By 1647 he had the local salt monopoly and built a road over the Simplon pass which gave him a monopoly on trade over this pass. Between 1651-59 he built a canal from Vouvry to Collombey which expanded his trading empire. At the peak of his power, Kaspar employed around 5,000 people.
Between 1630 and 1640 Kaspar expanded the Stockalper House toward the south with a great hall, chapel and other construction. The great hall was decorated with a coat of arms in 1653. The chapel altar is black with silver reliefs depicting the Adoration of the Magi and the Coronation of the Virgin, both of which were the work of Samuel Hornung of Augsburg in 1655. A two-story covered arcade leads from the Stockalper House to the much larger Palace.
Kaspar's extensive trade empire required an extensive warehouse and in 1658 he began construction on the Palace to provide that space. Construction of the 80 meters long building lasted 20 years. Once it was completed, Kaspar did not get many opportunities to enjoy his monumental building. In 1679 the communities of Visp, Leuk, Sierre and Sion rose up against him and drove him into exile in Domodossola. Six years later, in 1685, the Diet of Valais negotiated an agreement that allowed Kaspar to return and live out his last years in his Palace.
In 1948 the city took over the Palace and in 1960 the city council moved in. A museum was established in the Palace and some of the rooms were renovated and used for concerts and exhibitions. Today, there are guided tours which allow visitors to tour many parts of the building.
The Palace was built next to the smaller 16th century Gothic Stockalper House. It is a rectangular building with three towers on the north-west, south-west and south-east corners. The interior features a large, rectangular courtyard with arcades in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The balusters that line the second story are not original, but were added later. The three towers were named for the Three kings or Wise Men of the Bible. The tallest was named after Saint Caspar as well as Kaspar Stockalper. The other two were then named Melchior and Balthazar, the traditional names of the Wise Men.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.