Stans is the capital of the canton of Nidwalden and lies at the foot of the Stanserhorn. The expansive main square in the centre of town is truly magnificent – and one of the most beautiful squares in Switzerland.
Stans is nestled between the Stanserhorn, Buochserhorn and Bürgenstock mountains on the edge of the Nidwalden valley floor. From the 14th century onwards, the former village developed into the political, religious and cultural centre of Nidwalden. An expansive village square, framed by townhouses, forms the centre of Stans. All streets lead here, in a star-like pattern. The church, with its dominant tower, stands at the centre. An imposing monument to Arnold von Winkelried – the hero of the Battle of Sempach who led the Confederates to victory through his sacrifice, according to legend – and a fountain lend the square an even more potent effect. The upper edge of the settlement is characterised by the former Capuchin monastery with its attached college, the walled cemetery and the Convent of St. Klara, which served as an orphanage, run by Heinrich Pestalozzi, after the French invasion.
A little outside the centre, you can discover the Winkelriedhaus, which has been influenced by the Italian Renaissance, or take the historic funicular up towards the Stanserhorn.
ISOS is the Federal Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites of national importance. The inventory is maintained by the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) and lists the most significant settlements in Switzerland. Today, some 1,200 places are included in the inventory, from hamlets right through to cities. The inventory provides information on the development and identity of the settlements listed in it, thereby contributing to the preservation of architectural diversity in Switzerland and promoting both sustainable planning and a high-quality Baukultur.