A Visit to Basel, Switzerland
Perched on the Rhine, this enchanting Gothic Swiss town’s rich historic past intertwines with its flourishing contemporary art scene. Wander the medieval cobblestone streets and cross the Rhine into Old Town to discover the mesmerising beauty of Switzerland’s oldest university city.
Straddling the French and German borders, Basel’s unique multicultural history, countless museums, and breadth of architectural styles will invite you to experience the very best of Switzerland.
What to do
With more than one museum per square mile in addition to grand cathedrals and fashionable boutique shopping, it is impossible to remain idle in Basel. Begin with a tour of Basel’s Old Town, entering beneath Spalentor, the only remaining city gate from the medieval fortifications dating back to the 14th century, and meandering into the maze of cobblestone streets to admire the perfectly preserved 15th century homes. Visit Basel Minster, the imposing red sandstone cathedral with twin spires and a green-tiled roof standing on the ruins of an ancient Roman fort, to see the St Gallus doorway, with stone Romanesque engravings, and a handful of treasures that survived the Reformation. Before leaving the Old Town to explore one of Basel’s 40 museums, visit Rathaus Town Hall, overlooking the bustling Marktplatz. The impressive Burgundian Gothic style building is, like Basel Minster, made from the red sandstone of the French Vosges Mountains, with matching green-tiles, a colourfully-painted façade, and Wilhelm’s Clock. Take a peek inside to see the magnificent interior decorations of the early 17th century and the council chambers. Exit onto Marktplatz to buy some of the fresh produce or flowers sold daily.
Once you have tired of hiking through the streets of Basel, try tackling one of the countless art and history museums. Stop at Papiermuhle, Basel’s Paper Mill Museum, to learn more about writing, printing, and paper production from pre-Gutenberg to the 1980s. Haus zum Kirschgarten pulls you back in time, to the late 18th century, to explore the recreated home and offices of a Basel silk manufacturer, with an extensive decorative arts collection attached. The Historical Museum explores the ties between French, German, and Swiss culture with a vast collection of objects and artwork, while the Museum of Contemporary Art features the works of Salvador Dali and Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tinguely. Be sure to check if one of Basel’s many art and holiday festivals is taking place during your weekend getaway for a truly unforgettable stay in Switzerland.
Where to stay
We highly recommend staying at the luxurious Les Trois Rois, located on the Rhine where a former salt tower stood during the Middle Ages. Founded in 1681, Les Trois Rois is one of the oldest hotels in Europe and has proudly hosted Napoleon, James Joyce, Picasso, the Rolling Stones, and Queen Elizabeth II. Relax in the French-inspired historical hotel and dine at the prestigious Cheval Blanc Restaurant during your weekend break in Basel.
Eat & Drink
Enjoy French haute cuisine at Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen, located in a picturesque castle just outside of Basel, enjoy the famous Ueli beer at Brotli Bar, or buy an assortment of Swiss chocolates at Confiserie Brandli. No matter what you decide, you will be spoiled for choice in Basel.
The Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel’s Museum of Art, boasts the finest collection of paintings in all of Switzerland. Admire Rembrandt’s David with Goliath’s head, Mathias Grunewald’s Crucifixion, or any number of works from Konrad Witz to Vincent van Gogh to Max Ernst.
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