Naters, Saffron and the Swiss Guard
8 November 2021
Naters (canton of Valais) is located on the right bank of the Rhone and is known, among other things, for its proximity to the Aletsch Glacier (the World Nature Forum in Naters is dedicated to this UNESCO World Heritage), the Hotel Belalp from 1858, the Blattnerhof and the panoramic view of the Valais Alps.
Naters also provided many guards for the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. The Guard Museum (Gardemuseum) is dedicated to this history.
It started with a gift from the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Heinrich IV (1050-1106) in 1079. He donated the village to the Bishop of Sitten. Before that, the town belonged to the monastery of St. Maurice.
Because of its location at the foot of the Simplon Pass and the East-West connection, Naters was a strategically important place. The surrounding villages of Mund and Birgisch and smaller hamlets also fell under the administration of Naters. The name for a municipality was ‘Zenden/Zehnden’ in Oberwallis.
In the 16th century, however, Brig on the other left bank of the Rhône gained importance and became the capital of the Zenden. Today, Naters, Mund and Birgisch form an independent municipality.
Worth mentioning is the saffron from Mund. It is the northernmost crop in Europe and of high quality. The Saffron Museum (Safranmuseum) pays attention to this crop of exceptional quality.
The ruins of the Uf der Flüe castle, the Ornavasso tower, the Junkerhof, the Salzmann Stadel, the Lergjen house, the Megetschen house, the Supersaxo house and other buildings still show the former power of the bishop and the local (trading) elite in Naters.
(Source and further information: www.naters.ch).