The name Brig is derived from Briva, or "bridge." It is a picturesque small town in the Swiss canton of the Valais, situated at the foot of the northern slope of the Simplon Pass, on the right bank of the Saltine stream, and a little above its junction with the Rhone. Its older houses are very Italian in appearance, while its most prominent buildings (castle, former Jesuits' college and Ursuline convent) all date from the 17th century, and are due to the generosity of a single member of the local Stockalper family, the baron Kaspar Jodok von Stockalper.
Brig is located close to the Swiss-Italian borders. The language used in every day transactions is a unique German dialect, only used in this particular canton. Brig is popular among winter sport athletes, since it is surrounded by many Alp summits. The town itself lies close to Rhone river. Due to the high altitude, the temperatures in winter often remain below zero, resulting in frost. During the summer season, heat can be intense.
The prosperity of Brig is bound up with the Simplon Pass, so that it gradually supplanted the more ancient village of Naters opposite, becoming a separate parish (the church is at Glis, a few minutes from the town) in 1517. Its medieval name was Briga dives. The opening of the carriage road across the Simplon (1807) and of the tunnel beneath the pass (1906), as well as the fact that above Brig is the steeper and less fertile portion of the Upper Valais (then much frequented by tourists), greatly increased the importance and size of the town.