Describing Basel in one word is far from simple.
Labels such as Cultural Capital of Switzerland or University City can only be seen as an attempt to give the city, with its wealth of cultural, historical, leisure and enjoyment experiences, a single overarching name.
With its red sandstone walls, multicoloured roof tiles and twin towers, the Cathedral is a dominant feature of the city. The crypt, the choir, the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Galluspforte and the two cloisters are a testimony to the eventful history of its construction over a period of several centuries.
Summer, Easter Saturday till the 15th of October
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Sunday and holidays 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Winter, 16th of October till Good Friday
Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday and holidays 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The Cathedral is closed on the following days: 1st January, Good Friday, 1st May, 1st August, 24th and 25th December
The Basler Pfalz offers a magnificent view over the Old Town and far out into the Three-Countries Corner.
The word «Pfalz» is derived from «palatium» = palace. The terrace high above the Rhine behind the Cathedral is called the Pfalz because the residence of the Bishop of Basel was in the immediate vicinity.
Stairs lead down from the Pfalz to the landing stage of the Münsterfähre (Cathedral Ferry). The ferry is attached to a wire rope stretched across the Rhine, and is propelled across the broad river purely by the force of the current. There are three other ferries in Basel, and all of them are a popular attraction for both young and old.
Through a narrow gate one passes from the terrace into the quiet cloister of Basel Cathedral. Here one finds richly ornamented gravestones of members of well-known Basel families dating from the 16th to the 19th century.
Marktplatz & Town Hall
Every day except Sunday, fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers are on sale here. The Marktplatz is dominated by the Town Hall (Rathaus), the seat of the government of the Canton of Basel-City which at the same time functions as the city council.
Particularly worth seeing are the Council Chambers, the atmospheric Inner Courtyard, the romantic arcades and the imposing tower.
At the time of the transition from historicism to the Art Nouveau style, almost all the old burghers’ houses around the Marktplatz were replaced by larger buildings. One surviving building in the Renaissance style is the house of the vintners’ guild, known as the Geltenzunft, whose members were wine merchants and taverners. They were held in high esteem, for wine, like bread, was one of the most important daily foods and the vintners supervised its quality.
Mittlere Brücke / Schifflände
The first bridge across the Rhine was opened in Basel in 1226. Its builder was Prince-Bishop Heinrich von Thun. As protection for the bridge in which so much money had been invested, he established the fortified town of Kleinbasel (Lesser Basel) on the right bank of the Rhine.
The bridge initially served mainly local traffic, but in the 14th century, when the road over the St. Gotthard pass attained international significance, it became an important Rhine crossing for long-distance trade.
After the introduction of the electric tram, it became necessary to replace the old bridge with the new Mittlere Brücke dating from 1905. A copy of the old bridge chapel, the «Käppelijoch», still reminds us of the original structure.
Today, at the Schifflände, is a landing stage for the pleasure boats of the Basler Personenschiffahrt, which offers interesting excursions on the Rhine.
Basel’s Old Town
Travel through time as you explore Basel on foot. Basel’s Old Town remains as untouched and beautiful as any other in Europe.
In few other cities you will find buildings dating back to the 15th century contrasting with and yet complementing the modern works of internationally renowned architects.
In the place where the stage of the old Town Theatre formerly stood, in 1977 Jean Tinguely placed amusing machine sculptures in an enormous pool of water. They now create action in place of the actors, singers and dancers.
With this fountain the artist, whose work enjoys great popularity in Basel, endowed the town with a new symbol of its identity.