Basel, is in the north west Switzerland region where the borders of France and Germany cross. The city is the third largest city in the country with the population of 200.000. The River Rhine passes through the city of Basel. However, in summer with the tourists the population reaches up to one million. A dialect, which is Swiss German is spoken widely but you can always come up with someone to help you in English. Today, the Basel stock market is in competition with the Zurich stock market and ranks first in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry throughout the country. The city, which is famous for trade fairs as well as art, hosts the clock and jewel fairs. In addition, different events that appeal to all age groups take place throughout the year. The city is also known as the cultural capital of Switzerland. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. However, the country is a Schengen country. The official currency used throughout the country is the Swiss Franc. There are many sights to be visited in Basel. Here are some of them:
Rathaus (Town Hall): The arches and tower of the building made of red sandstone between 1504-1521 attract the attention of those who entered the city from a distance. The building is used as the Town Hall. Some parts are open for tourists to visit. The statue of Munatius Plancus, the architect of the building, was built in 1574 and placed inside the building. The tower on the right side of the building was added in the XIX century. Rathaus is located on the city's Marktplatz Square due to its location.
Marktplatz Square: In the middle of the square, various handcrafted products were sold at the stands made of illuminated wood, beautifully decorated due to Christmas. Among these products were mainly hot wine, chocolate and gift items for Christmas.
Basel Münster Cathedral: The construction of the cathedral started in the 9th century. However, with the big earthquake that occurred in 1356, its construction was left unfinished. The completion of the cathedral coincided with the XVI century. The group of sculptures on the main entrance door of Basel Münster attracts attention. On the right side of the entrance door you can see the figure of St. Petersburg on a horseback trying to kill a dragon. It is evident that he describes George. The huge Cathedral was packed up with visitors especially as it was the Christmas time. It was late November and it was a cold day. The heating system which was made under the marble floor was so good and did not ruin the building. There are many graves from different periods in the cathedral. Just to name a few the tomb of Henrich von Flachslanden from 1353, Domdekan Walther von Clingen from 1380, and Erasmus von Rotterdam, who was known as the creator of the humanism movement and classical literature researcher in the Renaissance era had died in Basel in 1536 and burried here.
St. Elizabeth Church: It is the first Protestant church built by Margarethe and Christoph Merian in Basel after reform in 1857. Today, the church is the most beautiful of its example in Switzerland with its Neo-Gothic style.
Spalentor (Spalentor Gate): Until 1860, the protection of the city was provided by the walls surrounding the city. There were 7 Gates which was in use to enter to the walled city. Nowadays only 3 Gates remain. They are Spalentor, St. Alban and St. John's Gates. High towers on both sides of the Spalentor Gate were built on XV century, it was damaged after the earthquake in 1933 and was restored in accordance with its former state.
Basel Zoo: It is a place that you can visit all year round. The zoo was opened in 1874.
As the Christmas period was approaching preparations were completed in different areas of Basel. Walking under decorated big pine trees and shopping from different stands was the center of attention for tourists living in the city as well as tourists. We also enjoyed the atmosphere and walked thru the stands, listened to Christmas songs, and drank hot wine.
Starting from the end of October until the beginning of November is the time when local wine is introduced in the city of Basel. This is the time when the wine lovers and wine producers come to the city.
Basel is a cultural city of Switzerland that has survived to present with its well-preserved Medieval historical buildings, churches, fountains and streets. We had enjoyed our stay in Basel and it was time for our next destination after 2 nights stay in the city.