Hospice

The romans were the first to build a simple military and trade path over the only 2005 m high Simplon pass. Five watchtowers maintained the traffic between the cities of Brig and Domodossola. Due to the narrow and dangerous passage through the Gondoschlucht gorge, the traffic crossing the Simplon pass remained modest for many centuries, even though members of the Johanniterorden founded a hospice on the pass in 1235.

In the 17th century, Kaspar von Stockalper improved the trail and the former roman road turned into a very well maintained mule track. A flourishing trade over the Simplon pass began to develop very quickly. In 1666 Stockalper upgraded the old hospice to a summer residence and to a resting place for the traders and their mules.

It was finally Napoleo Bonaparte who was the first to build a paved road from Brig to Domodossola crossing the Simplon pass. He realized the strategic importance of the Simplon pass. The construction of the eight-meter-wide road by more than 5000 workers was a technical masterpiece at that time. The modern hospice on the pass was initially supposed to be completed at the same time as the new pass road and to function as barracks for Napoleon's troops, but the groundbreaking of the impressive building took place only in 1813. The construction works lasted untin 1831. After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, the French left Valais and the construction was interrupted. Only the first floor had been completed by that time. In 1825 the Augustinian canons from the Great St. Bernard took charge of the project and finally completed the building developed by Swiss architect Henri Perregaux from Lausanne.

In 1831, the canons from the old Stockalper hospice moved into the new building not far away from the old place. The Simplon hospice is run by the Augustinian monks still today and functions as a meeting place for people from all over the world. The building has been renovated in the last few years. It is open all over the year and offers accomodation for up to 130 guests. Guests have the choice between dormitories of 8 beds or rooms of 2 to 6 beds.

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