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A Walking Tour of Basel

Summer is the time for visitors in Basel! With this self-guided walking tour you can see most of Basel's major sites in just a couple hours.


Route Map


Stop 1 - Dancing Fountains

Start at the Fasnachts Brunnen (Tinguely Fountain), one of Basel's most famous monuments. Designed by Basel's own Jean Tinguely in 1977, this fountain displays ten iron figures in constant motion. These figures stand in front of Theatre Basel and are said to represent the actors of the stage in constant interaction with each other. This fountain runs year round, even in the winter, when at times it is completely coated in ice. It makes for some lovely photos so take a few insta-worthy snaps!


Also in this area, next to Theatre Basel is Richard Serra's Intersection. Walk amongst the vast iron waves, listen to your echoing voice and become part of the art, as was the piece's intention. Serra made this piece, not to be simply to viewed like a painting, but to be experienced, and visitors are welcome to walk through and interact with it.








Stop 2 - Retail Therapy

From here you walk down historic Freistrasse, which is said to date back to Roman times! For centuries this street has been the economic and trade centre of Basel. Wander down and make sure to stop in some shops along the way, after all you will be participating in a centuries-old tradition.






About halfway down, where Münsterberg joins Freie Strasse you will encounter the Dreizackbrunnen (Trident Fountain). This fountain was created in 1837 by Melchior Berri and can be recognized by its distinct clover-leaf shape surrounded by four Basilisks and topped with a stone dolphin and bronze trident. One thing that is particularly interesting is that on New Years Day this fountain runs with wine!


A little further down, take a short detour on Rüdengasse to the Job Factory Store. Set in the former Post Office, this beautiful location is now home to Basel's coolest pop-up store. Here you will find food, clothes, home decor and even plants, all from local small business owners. It is the perfect place to find something that is uniquely Basel, while avoiding the tourist kitsch.


Job Factory Store Rüdengasse 1, 4001 Basel




As you continue back down Freie Strasse towards the Rathaus you will pass by some of Basel's historic guild houses, which were the centre for gold, silver, wine and spice merchants as early as the 14th Century! Though some of the buildings have been converted into restaurants, the guilds still exist in the form of mens clubs. Admire the beautifully ornate architecture and perhaps stop to have lunch in one of these historic buildings.


Schülusselzunft Freie Str. 25, 4001 Basel

Safranzunft Gerbergasse 11, 4001 Basel



Stop 3 - Basel's Iconic Rathaus

At the end of this street you reach Marktplaz and the iconic Basel Rathaus. Originally conceived in 1501, to commemorate Basel's entry into the Swiss confederation, it was completed in 1514 (and renovated many times after).


The Basel Rathaus is the seat of government in Basel and today houses the Chancellery, the Parliamentary Services and Department of Presidential Affairs. The theme of the exterior paintings, originally by Hans Bock, are 'law and legislation' and Basel's membership in the Swiss Confederation'.


The tower was only added in 1901 and was controversial at the time because many felt it too ostentatious. In true Swiss style, it was put to a vote and with public consensus finally acheived, it was built shortly after. The mural on the side of the tower, best visible from Freie Strasse

is Hans Bär, a vanguard who fell in the battle of Marignano in 1515. This is the only military reference on the Rathaus, which was unusual at the time.


As you enter the interior of the Rathaus known as the Assembly Hall is you will notice a striking statue. This depicts Munatius Plancus, the founder of the Roman city of Augusta Raurica (some 10 km from Basel). Look around and admire the interior walls, which were painted by Hans Holbein the Younger. These paintings show the Deputies of the Confederation arriving in Basel as well as picture of the Town’s Patron, Emperor Heinrich II.



Stop 4 - Time for a Rest

Directly in front of the Rathaus is Marktplaz. This bustling central market has been around since the late 12th Century! Here you can find any number of delectable treats from local producers. Have a seat, enjoy a snack and watch the world go by.


Market Hours

Tuesday to Thursday from 7:00-14:00

Friday and Saturday from 7:00-18:00









Stop 5 - The Münster

From Marktplaz, head past Globus (Switzerlands luxury department store) and towards the Rhein. Take a right at Rheinsprung Gasse and up towards the Münster. On the way be sure to enjoy the beautiful view of the Rhein.


Take note of the mural to your left.

Gänseliesl, by Samual Buri is actually a painting within a painting. The image of the girl with the swans already existed when in 1978 Buri restored it and add the clever tromp l'oeil scaffolding over top.



As you continue up this cobble stone path, the impressive facade the Münster materializes before you. This church, once Catholic, but now Reformed Protestant, is made of red sandstone and is actually the last of three churches built on this site. The first dates back to the 7th Century! The second was consecrated in 1019 and the third was built when this one was destroyed by the Great Basel Earthquake of 1356. This red sandstone version was built by Johannes Gmünd and is one of the main tourist attractions in Basel.


The two main towers are named after the saints George and Martin and they are depicted as statues on the main front facade. George is depicted slaying a dragon (that in this case looks more like a puppy) and Martin is depicted cutting his cloak in order to share it with a beggar, according to the legend.


Be sure to visit the interior, which is a combination of Romaneque, Late Romanesque and Gothic styles. If you are feeling ambitious you can even climb the 250 stairs to the top of the tower and enjoy a fantastic view. For a less exhausting experience, be sure to visit the nearby Münster Klosters, which are also lovely.



Stop 6 - Mittlerebrücke

Retrace your steps back down Rheinsprung Gasse. Before you visit Mittlere Brücke, one of the many bridges that connects Grossbasel to Kleinbasel, be sure to stop and admire the Lällikonig. There are two versions this royal figure with it's tongue protruding and one of them even moves! There is much debate as to the meaning of these figures. Some say they are an insult to Kleinbasel, indicative the the centuries-old rivalry between Grossbasel and Kleinbasel The two sides of the city separated by the Rhein) and some say it is simply a joke.



About halfway across Mittlere Brückwe you will see a small building, known as Käppelijoch. This small chapel was once used as a place of execution. Offenders were thrown from this point with their hands and feet bound and if they survived to the city limits (at the time about 800 meters away) their sentence was waived and they were free.




From here you continue across the bridge to our beloved Helvetia, the last stop on this tour. Helvetia auf Reisen by Bettina Eichin, is an iconic sculpture in Basel. It depicts Helvetia, the personification of Switzerland, not as the icon on the two-franc coin, but instead as a woman, tired from her journey and quietly contemplating the Rhein.


It is here where this short tour of Basel ends. I urge you to take some inspiration from Helvetia, order yourself a drink from one of there many Buvettes just at the bottom of the stairs and quietly contemplate the Rhein.



I hope you have enjoyed this little excursion through Basel, we hope it's won't be your last!




Sources

www.basel.com

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81514

https://www.staatskanzlei.bs.ch

https://www.basler-bauten.ch

https://www.mural.ch/index.php?kat_id=w&id2=441

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basel_Minster

www.altbasel.ch

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittlere_Brücke









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