I came across Basel, when I was traveling from Paris to Lucerne in Switzerland by train. I never knew that Basel in Switzerland has so many attractions for the tourists. Basel is a multi-cultural city full of rich history and creativity. The city has a wide range of activities for the visitors and locals. Specially when you know that this city borders three countries (France, Germany and Switzerland).
The city has more than 40 museums and a lot of cultural attractions. I will try to cover maximum places that are worth the visit in this article for you. The two sides of Basel meet each other through 6 bridges on the beautiful Rhine river. If you follow this Rhine river to the North, you will find the German-French border. The cultural attraction and the famous old town are at the higher bank of the river. Most of the people speak the German dialect of the local language.
Hotel in Basel Switzerland
We chose to stay at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois because of the excellent location. The reviews and ratings of the hotel are also extra ordinary. The hotel is located in the heart of the city at the perfect location for a tourist. The staff is very professional and very helpful, the hotel is neat and clean with rooms that add the pleasure of amazing views of the river for you. The hotels has displayed many impressive awards and medals in the lobby. Another great reason for stay is that this hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Basel and many famous personalities have stayed here like Napoleon, Elizabeth II, Pablo Picasso and Thomas Mann.
History of Basel Switzerland
The city of Basel was ruled by the Burgundy, German and Austrian empires and joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501. The university of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland which was founded in 1460. This university became center for humanism in the 16th century and attracted a lot of scholars and teachers. Since the 16th century the city of Basel has been a commercial hub and an important cultural center. The city is the second largest economic center of Switzerland after Zurich. A lot of chemical and pharmaceutical industries were formed here in the 19th century. The Kunst museum was the first collection of art opened for the public viewing in Europe.
11 Spectacular Attractions in Basel Switzerland
Basel Old Town
One of the most well-preserved and prettiest in Europe the Basel old town is a place to enjoy by walk. This medieval old town is located between the river and the old city gate. The best way to explore is to take a guided walking tour. You can also pick up a brochure at the tourist center and follow the map if you want to explore by your own. Due to the compact size of the town, you will see beautiful architecture at every corner of the streets. The stone streets, medieval churches, brightly painted fountains and beautiful old homes are going to mesmerize you.
One of the most prominent landmarks of the city is Basel Minster. The spires and bright colored roof tiles will catch your eyesight from a long distance. This beautiful cathedral amplifies the beauty of the city with its red sandstone walls, colorful roof tiles and twin towers. The old episcopal church was built between the years of 1019 and 1500 in the Roman and Gothic styles.
The Church is still in operation as a place of worship and visitors should follow the proper elegant etiquettes. You can also go up into the towers to get a good view of the city. You can enjoy beautiful views of the river Rhine from the beautiful garden in the back. Despite being damaged by an earthquake in 1356 and an attack by protestants in 1529, the church still stands still with its rich history intact. There is a historical museum within the church.
The City hall (Rathaus) is the seat of the Basel government and its parliament. This hall is located in the center of the old town at the Marktplatz which is a market for grocery and food lovers. As you walk in the old town, the building will catch your eye automatically because of its beautiful architecture in red.
You will also see one of the oldest bridges during your walk in the old town. The bridge is called Mittler Brucke and was opened in 1226 and is one of the oldest bridges of Europe. The bridge is used as crossing at Rhine river between Lake Constance and the North Sea.
Gate of Spalen, The Splantor was used for entrance of many important supplies in the city. This is one of the three city gates that were built around 1400 and are still remaining.
Tinguely Fountain in Basel Switzerland
A swiss artists, Jean Tinguely, created these 10 sculptures from scrap metals in a shallow fountain. These mechanical figures seem like playing in the water. This is located less than a kilometer away from the old town’s center. The place of the fountain was once the stage of the city theater. In winters when the temperature drops down, these same metallic sculptures become beautiful ice sculptures.
Basel Paper Mill
Basel paper mill has been in business since 1453 and now turned into a museum of writing, printing and paper. You can learn to make a paper and also learn about the historic processes of bookbinding, paper making and printing. The papermill is set on a medieval canal with an operating waterwheel that presses rags and pulp into sheets of paper. There are many artifact collections like stamps, quills and typewriters.
This is the point where Switzerland, Germany and France converge. A place where you can be in three countries at the same time. This is also a busy transport hub for boats that sail off towards the North Sea. In 1990, Swiss, German and French architects met and created a triangular building to relate it with the three countries border. On the first floor of the building, there is a splendid terrace that offers you the cross-border views of the river Rhine.
There is also a 6 kms walking track between Switzerland and Germany covered with colorful sculptures. These sculptures also act as path markers and motivate you from start to finish. This place is called 24 stops Rehberger Weg.
Zoologischer Garten or Zolli as called by the locals, this non-profit zoo was opened in 1874 with 510 European animals. This is the oldest and largest zoo of Switzerland and is one of the 15 best zoos of the world. This zoo is house to many exotic species.
This museum is famous as the world’s oldest publicly accessible art collection in the Europe. The main building dates back to 1936 and was designed by Basel based architect Rudolf Christ who teamed up with master builder Paul Bonatz. The museum displays paintings and graphic arts from the Upper Rhine region which dates from 1400 to 1600 and also the arts of the 19th century till the present.
The City is filled with museums some of most famous museums in the city are as under
- Fondation Beyler: This museum displays the art collection of Hildy and Ernest.
- Museum Tinguely: This museum in Basel Switzerland displays the work of Swiss painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely.
- Museum of Cultures: This museum is a Swiss heritage site and exhibits large and important collection of artifacts, of ethnography.
- Natural History Museum of Basel: This museum is about the collections of zoology, entomology, mineralogy, anthropology, osteology and paleontology
- Toy World Museum: This is the largest of its kind museum in Europe created for the love of toys.
- Messe Basel: This is a new structure built for exhibitions and has become a landmark immediately.
Rhine River Cruise
If there is a river and a boat that offers the city views, you should always take it. The one hour harbor tours are a great way to see the city from a different angle. You can see major sights from the water and enjoy the cruise.