Brieg, often now spelt Brig (Fr. Brigue, Ital. Briga), 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 prosperity of Brieg is bound up with the Simplon Pass (q.v.), 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 Brieg is the steeper and less fertile portion of the Upper Valais (now much frequented by tourists), have greatly increased the importance and size of the town. The opening of the railway tunnel beneath the Lötschen Pass, affording direct communication with Bern and the Bernese Oberland, is calculated still further to contribute to its prosperity.
The new town extends below the old one and is closer to the right bank of the Rhone. In 1900 the population was 2182, almost all Romanists, while 1316 were German-speaking, 719 Italian-speaking (the Simplon tunnel workmen), and 142 French-speaking, one person only speaking Romonsch.
(W. A. B. C.)