The 25 best sights of Basel – descriptions and photos

Basel

Basel (Switzerland) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Basel with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

City of Basel (Switzerland)

Basel is a city in northwestern Switzerland and the capital of the canton of the same name. It is located on the banks of the Rhine between the Jura Mountains and the Black Forest, near the border with Germany and France. Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland and the cultural capital of the country. It has one of the best preserved and most beautiful medieval centers in Europe, with several dozen museums and galleries scattered throughout. Basel is an open, cosmopolitan city with a pleasant, laid-back atmosphere and interesting historical and cultural attractions.

Things to do (Basel):

Basel is a city on the border of Switzerland, Germany and France

From €150 per excursion

Basel on the border of Switzerland, Germany and France

Explore the city with the highest density of museums in Europe.

Geography and climate

Basel is located in the northwestern corner of Switzerland on the border with France and Germany. The city is the heart of this unique tri-national region, which is called the Dreiländereck. It is an excellent starting point for exploring northwestern Switzerland, the Black Forest and Alsace.

The Rhine

River Rhine

The Rhine River divides Basel into two parts. On the south and west banks is “Grand Basel” (Grossbasel), which contains the medieval old town. On the north bank is “Little Basel” (Kleinbasel), a modern district with a busy nightlife.

Basel. Old Town

Basel. Old Town

Basel has a moderate climate with warm summers and cool winters. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. The average summer temperature is 17-20 ° C and the average winter temperature is – 1 to +3 ° C.

Information for tourists

  1. The population is more than 170 thousand people.
  2. The language is German and French.
  3. The area is 23.85 km2 .
  4. Currency – Swiss franc.
  5. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  6. The Schengen visa.
  7. The highest point is 366 m (Wasserturm Bruderholz).
  8. One of the largest and oldest universities in Switzerland (founded in 1460) is located in Basel.
  9. Basel’s main shopping area is from Clarastrasse (Claraplatz) to Marktplatz and up Freiestrasse and Gerbergasse.
  10. Basler Läckerli is a popular local product that resembles gingerbread.
  11. The main market is on Marktplatz. It works from Monday to Saturday. The prices, of course, are not the lowest. For market shopping is better to go to the Petersplatz.
  12. The old town of Basel is full of charming restaurants, many of which have terraces or tables on the streets in the summer. Bank cards are not accepted everywhere, so it is better to clarify the form of payment in advance. Traditional Swiss food is quite expensive. Most economic tourists and locals prefer: pizza, various pastries, sausages, pancakes, sandwiches (sandwiches).

History

Basel is an ancient city with more than two thousand years of history. It grew out of a Roman fortress Basilea, founded in 15 BC. Before the arrival of the Romans, the Celts lived here. In 740 Basel became the seat of the bishops, which was the impetus for the further growth and development of the city.

Night-time Basel

Nighttime Basel

In 917 the city was destroyed by the Hungarians. In 1185, Basel suffered a major fire, and in 1356 a major earthquake. Between 1362 and 1398, the city walls were built. In 1460, a university was founded in Basel, which is the oldest educational institution in Switzerland. The city joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501.

How to get there

The nearest airport is located 4 km from Basel in France. The air port serves three cities at once: Mulhouse, Freiburg and Basel itself. From the airport you can get to the city by bus 11 and 50.

Evening in Basel

Evening in Basel

Basel is a major railway hub. The city has two main train stations: Basel SBB (in the south) and Basel Badischer Bahnhof (in the north). Swiss trains arrive at the SBB station and depart from Zurich (travel time 53 minutes), Bern (travel time 55 minutes) and Geneva (travel time 2½ hours) every half hour. High-speed trains connect Basel with Berlin, Paris and Frankfurt. There are also night trains to Amsterdam and Prague.

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Attractions

Basel’s old town is one of the most charming and well-preserved in Europe. The historic core of the city is located between the Rhine and the old city gate Spalentor. It has a small, compact size and is great for walking.

Christmas market in the Old Town

Christmas market in the old town

The historic center of Basel with its narrow cobblestone streets, medieval churches and old houses has a wonderful atmosphere. The most interesting places are the Marktplatz (Market Square), Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) and Petersplatz (Peter Square), the old artisan district (Leonhardsberg, Spalenberg, Heuberg) and the Freiestrasse with Renaissance buildings.

Do not be afraid to turn off the tourist trails. You will probably discover just as beautiful places, get a feel for Basel and get to know the city a little better.

Basel Cathedral

Cathedral

The Basel Cathedral (Münster) is a medieval church in the Gothic style with Romanesque elements. The cathedral is located at the highest point of Basel and is one of the most recognizable structures of the old city. Münster stands out for its prominent spires and striking patterned roof. The cathedral was built between the 9th and 13th centuries from red sandstone quarried in the French Vosges. The church sits on the elegant Münsterplatz. In ancient times there was a Roman fort on this site.

St. Gallus

The portal of St. Gallus

The current cathedral building was rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1356 after an earthquake. The beautiful ancient altar was destroyed during the Reformation in 1529. The most notable feature of Münster is the portal of St. Gallus, located in the northern transept, with magnificent Romanesque carvings. The portal is considered the most important Romanesque sculpture in Switzerland. Inside the cathedral is an ancient crypt containing the tombs of bishops of the 10th-13th centuries, a beautiful Romanesque frieze, frescoes and many other valuable works of church art.

St. Martin's Church

Church of St. Martin

St. Martin’s Church is the oldest parish church in Basel, founded in the early 12th century. It was significantly rebuilt in 1851, but has retained many ancient elements. The bell of St. Martin’s Church traditionally announces the fall fair.

Church of St. Elizabeth

Church of St. Elizabeth

The Church of St. Elizabeth is one of the most important Neo-Gothic churches in Switzerland. It was completed in 1864, but gives the impression of an older building. The spire of the bell tower has a height of 72 meters.

Church of St. Peter

Church of St. Peter

St. Peter’s Church is a medieval church in the historic center of Basel. The first religious structure on this site was built in the 9th century. Subsequently, the church was rebuilt in 1233, 1356 (after the earthquake) and in 1529 (during the Reformation).

Spalentor

Spalentor

The Spalentor is a mighty 14th-century medieval gate. They were once part of the city walls of Basel and now mark the boundary of the old city. The city fortifications were dismantled in 1866.

Middle Bridge

The Middle Bridge

The Middle Bridge is one of the oldest bridges over the Rhine, built in 1226. The old bridge was replaced by a more modern structure in 1905.

Town Hall

Town Hall

One of the most important historic squares is the Market Square (Marktplatz). Its most noteworthy building is the late-Burgundian Gothic-style 16th-century town hall with a beautiful facade. An imposing tower was added in the 19th century.

St. Alban's Gate

St. Alban’s Gate

St. Alban’s Gate is one of three surviving medieval gates. They date from 1400.

St. Johannes Gate

St. Johannes Gate

St. Johann’s Gate is a 14th-century medieval city gate with a strong tower.

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Tinguely fountain

Tinguely Fountain

The Tinguely Fountain is an interesting sculptural fountain created in 1977 by the famous Swiss craftsman Jean Tinguely.

Basel Museums

Basel – the cultural capital of Switzerland. There are about 40 museums. Basel is therefore one of the best cities in Europe for lovers of culture, history and art.

  • Old Paper Mill – museum of writing, printing and paper.
  • Museum of Antiquities (Ludwig Collection) – collections of Egyptian, Greek, Italian, Etruscan and Roman works of art and historical artifacts covering the period from the fourth millennium BC to the first millennium AD.
  • Historical Museum – important collections of history and culture of Basel. The museum is located in a medieval church building.
  • Jüdische Museum – One of Europe’s finest museums of Jewish history and culture.
  • Museum of Art – the best picture gallery of Switzerland from the old masters of the Flemish and French school to the modern trends of painting (expressionism, surrealism, etc.).
  • Toy Museum – more than 6000 exhibits and the largest collection of teddy bears in the world.

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33 interesting sights in Basel in Switzerland

Basel sights

Basel is considered the industrial and cultural center of Switzerland. The city is famous for its ancient architecture, numerous museums, exhibition centers. There is a cathedral-münster of red sandstone. Located in a picturesque valley in the vicinity of the Jura mountains and forested mountain range Shvartsalda. Visitors will be interested in the numerous museums, ancient buildings, the largest carnival, which is on a scale equal to the Venetian. Everyone who is going to visit this settlement is worth reading the top top attractions.

What sights to see in Basel in a day

You can start the acquaintance from the main station Basel SBB. Then admire the view of the headquarters tower of the Bank for International Settlements, built in 1977. Also not far from the station is the Strasbourg Monument, a reminder of how women, children and the elderly managed to get out of the besieged population center in 1870.

Not far from the old train station is the old town, which is easily accessible by public transport. There you should visit the market square, see the Basel Town Hall, the churches of St. Leonard and the Franciscan monastery, visit the historical museum and Basel Cathedral and walk across the bridge over the river. One day is not enough to explore the city well. So it is better to plan a trip here for several days.

The best photos are in the old town and on the river

The best photos come from the Old Town and the river.

How to get there

The settlement is located near the borders with Germany and France. Therefore, it is better to get to Basel from these countries, for example, Cannes or Lyon. There is no direct train from Russia. You must get there by train or by car. By plane you can get to Basel with a connection in Paris. Another option is to change trains in Zurich, which is one hour away.

Paper Mill

A museum dedicated to printing, paper production and writing. More than five centuries ago there was a paper mill here providing paper for medieval Europe. Visitors to the museum will be able to create their own paper and print text using technology that was used in the past.

Jean Tinguely Museum

This place attracts with its original kinetic sculptures. The museum has a collection of exhibits of kinetic art. The sculptures are created from old metal discs, bicycle spokes and other household and industrial objects. The main idea of the exhibit is to present the fine line between technology and human mechanization.

Basel Museum of Art

The largest European art museum. It presents items of modern and medieval art. The main part of the collection are drawings, engravings, canvases collected by the collector Basilius Amerbach. The museum has a collection of international art. There are works by such famous artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso.

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World of Toys Museum

An unusual museum filled with all kinds of toys: dolls, teddy bears, miniature city streets. There are exhibits from all over the world. The toys seem to be alive, they play, ride on swings, compete in cars. In addition to the main exhibition there are regularly held exhibitions on different topics: the precious eggs of the Romanov family, ancient porcelain, and exclusive umbrellas.

Dolls Museum

The museum is located in a building that was built in 1867. This is a well known sightseeing attraction. Its exposition includes not only dolls, but also things from everyday life, soft toys. Exhibits were created during the 19th and 20th centuries. In this museum you can see the first mechanical dolls, a series of toys created by world famous manufacturers. Little visitors receive a gift from the administration.

Museum of Natural History

The exhibition covers the entire field of science of natural knowledge. In the museum, guests can go back many years to the existence of dinosaurs, visit different beautiful parts of the planet. The exposition features samples of rare minerals and animal skeletons. Guests can learn the geological past of our planet, the mysteries of the processes in the bowels of the earth, the richness of fauna and flora.

Music Museum

It is located in the Lonhof building in the medieval city center. Throughout its existence, the building has been a monastery, a municipal paymaster’s office and even a prison. Expositions are located in the former prison cells. There are more than 650 musical instruments from different centuries in the collection.

Roche Tower

The skyscraper has an impressive size and design unusual for this area. It is made in the form of a stepped pyramid. According to visitors, the skyscraper is a highlight of the city and dilutes the landscape with its futuristic appearance.

Basel Museum of Antiquities

Many visitors call it an antique museum. The only museum in the country dedicated to the culture, art of ancient times. In the exhibition halls you can see exhibits of Roman, Etruscan, ancient Greek and Egyptian art. The sculpture hall displays ancient sculptures.

Historical Museum

It is one of the five state museums of Switzerland. The main collection is displayed in the church Barfüsserkirche. The main attention is given to the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. The collection includes gold and silver jewelry, treasures, altars, tapestries from Strasbourg, sacred sculptures and ancient coins.

Swiss Fire Museum

An interesting place for people who are close to or interested in the topic of fire fighting. The museum exposition reveals the history of confrontation with this problem. The collection includes gadgets and equipment, which were used to eliminate fires in different times.

The Blue and White Houses

Two identical structures that match in the smallest details of decor, differing only in the colors of the facade. The mansions belonged to the Sarasinov brothers. The houses are now the offices of the Canton of Basel-Stadt. In front of the buildings on the sidewalk are a few stones different from all the others. Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte strolled to this very spot, accompanied by local officials.

St. Paul’s Church

The building in neo-Romanesque style was built in the early 20th century by architects Carl Moser and Robert Curiel. The mosaics on the walls were designed by G. Altherr and the facades of the main entrance by K. Burckhardt. The statues of gargoyles and the clock tower are considered the main decorations of the building. No less interesting is a stained-glass window in the form of a rose decorating the central facade of the temple.

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Church of St. Elisabeth

The important Neo-Gothic church of Switzerland. The founder, F. Stadler, did not even live to see the foundation of the church laid. The first public service was held in the early summer of 1864. The church houses an organ made by the famous organ master Josef Merklin. The church was reconstructed between 1990 and 1994.

Spalentor Gate

The Spalentor Gate, which used to be the entrance to the town many years ago, is recognized as a national monument. For many years it served as Basel’s defence. But from the end of the 19th century onwards they disturbed the rapidly growing city, so the authorities decided to have the walls pulled down. The local authorities decided to keep only the three most beautiful towers. On the inside of the structure there is an old post box from 1844. It is still in use today.

Basel-Badischer Bahnhof

Railway station located in Switzerland, but part of the platforms belong to Germany. There is a border crossing in the underpass. The station is served by German railroads.

Basel SBB

The main railway station of the city. It is the largest border station in Europe. The station is located in a building with neo-baroque facade. There are about 465 trains daily from the railway station. It is an important transportation hub serving national, suburban and international trains. Part of the station is served by the French railroads.

Museum of Architecture

The only museum of architecture in the country. A lot of attention is paid here to the existing and future problems of architecture. The activities of the institution are focused on lectures, exhibitions and excursions. The exhibitions of the museum change four times a year.

Church of St. Martin

Protestant church located in the old part of town. The tallest building in old Basel. Part of the structures of the temple survived from 1287. In this place the reformer of Basel, Johann Ekolampadii, preached.

Peterskirche

Church consecrated in honour of the Apostle Peter. It is located at the intersection of Köhlergesslein and Petersgasse. The three-nave basilica is richly decorated with paintings of biblical themes, wall paintings. The longitudinal side aisles are separated from the main aisle by whitewashed walls. In the southern part of the church is well preserved wall fresco “Annunciation of the Virgin Mary” and the painting “Coffin Deposition”. In May 1760, the writer Johann Peter Habel was baptized in the church.

Catholic Church of the Virgin Mary

The first Catholic church built after the Reformation. It was opened in 1886. The structure stands out with its neo-Byzantine interior design. After the restoration in the 20th century, the interior has changed considerably. But some details have been preserved until nowadays.

Church of the Predigerkirche

The church is located on Totentac street and is one of the first churches of the area converted in the Gothic style. After the earthquake in the middle of the 14th century, it was quickly rebuilt and decorated with faces of saints and frescoes. The main value of the church is the 15th-century baptismal font. Its facade still bears depictions of Jesus Christ.

St. Jakob Park Stadium

A well-known soccer stadium. It is where FC Basel trains. All spectator seats are under the roof. At Euro 2008 six matches were held here. For the first time in the history of the championship in the course of the tournament the pitch was replaced due to the deterioration of the covering after a heavy downpour. The Russian national team won a memorable victory over the Netherlands with a score of 3-1.

Botanical Garden of the University of Basel.

It has a collection of different species of plants. Many of them are used as practical material in medical universities. The garden is an open area, divided into themes: ferns, rock gardens, Mediterranean plants. There are about 8 thousand species of plants in the garden’s collection.

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Lange Erlen Zoo

It is one of the top five popular zoos in the world. Six thousand animals live on its territory. Specially equipped aviaries allow visitors to observe the life of animals in their usual environment. The zoo is home to representatives from different continents. In a special pavilion live baby animals.

Basel Zoo

Is located in the distance from public places. It is difficult to get to him, but it is worth it. Entrance to the territory is free. The small territory is well maintained. In the spacious enclosures live in a smaller number of animals than in the main zoo. The lack of crowds allows you to stroll freely through the territory and enjoy interacting with the animals.

Swiss Jewish Museum

The only institution in the country devoted to Jewish culture. It is located near the synagogue, in a small building with 4 rooms. The exposition covers the life of Jewish families, their calendars and ritual objects. There you can see medieval tombstones, documents in Hebrew and Torah scrolls. The museum’s collection is grouped as follows: Jewish Year, Jewish Law, Jewish History, and Jewish Everyday Life.

Basel Synagogue.

A large Jewish temple built in 1868. It was designed by the architect Hermann Rudolf Gauss. The building has two galleries: a women’s gallery and a men’s gallery. Each of them accommodates 200 people. The building is in oriental style, decorated with ornaments in Moorish style. In the vault of the synagogue are stored 10 valuable scrolls of the Torah, in special covers decorated with decorative metal elements and embroidery.

Anatomical Museum

This was opened in 1924 in the department of medicine of the old University of Basel. The exhibits will be of interest to medics and medical students. Visitors will be able to study in detail the anatomy of the human body. The exposition of the museum is divided into themes. There is a separate exhibition devoted to intrauterine development. The human skeleton, preserved since 1543, is very popular.

City Bridge

The oldest bridge in the city. It is located on the site of the ancient Rhine crossing of 1225. For many years it was the only bridge in Basel. For centuries it served as a place of execution, where convicts were tied up, had a stone tied around their necks and were thrown into the river.

Tinguely Fountain

It was created by the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely in the seventies. It consists of ten mechanical sculptures arranged in a large water basin. The fountain shows Tinguely’s characteristic play with water. The figures move and spray water through the air. This used to be the site of the city theater, which was destroyed in a natural disaster. The fountain is located on the site of the stage. The sculptures, which are in constant motion, look like the actors who used to perform in this place.

Basel Town Hall

One of the most interesting and beautiful Renaissance town halls in Europe. The bright red walls of the building are decorated with intricate patterns, balconies. Especially stands out the tall tower. The town hall is considered one of the most interesting buildings, raising the mood on a cloudy day. There is a bronze plaque on one of the pillars of the town hall which reminds us of the floods of the sixteenth century.

Cathedral

The symbol and main attraction of the city. The medieval building is impressive in its majesty. It harmoniously combines the Gothic and Romanesque styles. Its rich history, impressive architecture, stained glass windows and many other works combine to make this cathedral a sight to behold.

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