Situated immediately adjacent to the Jesuit Church, the Ritterscher Palace is now the seat of the cantonal administration. It is also a destination for art and history devotees: adorning the top floor corridor is Jakob von Will’s Dance Macabre, which comprises seven pictures and 23 scenes. The scenes present various social classes being confronted with death.
The landowner, Lux (Lucius) Ritter, a captain in the French King’s Regiment in North Italy, was put at the head of the town and republic of Lucerne on his return to his homeland. He sought to emphasise his social status by building a Renaissance palazzo in the Florentine style. The Ritterscher Palace was the work of the Italian architect Giovanni Lynzo, who was sentenced to death for heresy during its construction. Ritter himself died shortly afterwards. The town council completed the building, and from 1557 it was occupied by the newly arrived Jesuits. This striking edifice is now the seat of the cantonal parliament.
The graceful colonnade-lined courtyard at the centre of the building can be viewed during office hours.
The Stone Age artefacts in Kehrsiten remind us that the area now known as Nidwalden was populated thousands of years ago.
In 2003 a scuba diver discovered interesting-looking wooden piles at the bottom of the lake near the jetty in Kehrsiten. Detailed investigations revealed that they were the remains of a Neolithic pile-dwelling settlement from the 4th century BC. This makes the pile dwellings the oldest evidence of the existence of humans in Nidwalden.
The find was of great importance for both national and international research. Until the time of the discovery, pile dwellings had only been found in the Central Swiss Plateau. The international significance of this find was further confirmed in 2011, when the settlement was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The pile-dwellings are under water and not visible. However, an information board and a symbolic telescope have been installed near the place where they were found.