One of Basel’s most iconic landmarks is the Rhine River. The river was at the heart of one of the most important trading routes in Europe, and had a huge influence on the development of the city.
If you walk along the Rhine promenade, you will be rewarded with beautiful panoramas of Basel. During the summer months, you can also join the locals for some sunbathing and a good swim in the river.
The Rhine Promenade also features the Pfalz. Deriving its name from the Latin word “palatium” (palace), this tiny shaded terrace is filled with horse chestnut trees and is one of Basel’s most popular viewpoints. It’s a favorite among locals to chill and socialize.
Fun fact: The fruit of these trees were brought to Europe from Constantinople by the Ottomans in the 16th century.
Basel Town Hall
The 500-year-old Town Hall is the seat of the Basel government and its parliament. One of the major highlights of the city’s Old Town, the town hall was built after the Great Basel Earthquake of 1356.
The Basel town hall’s brilliant red facade is especially striking to the eye. As you enter the building, you are greeted by an intimate courtyard, complete with beautiful frescoes, romantic arcades and its signature tower.
After Basel joined the Swiss Confederation, the town hall displayed the coat of arms of the city as well as the 11 other members of the Confederation. You can still see these insignia on the building’s crenellations.
Spalentor or the Gate of Spalen is one of three gateways, remnants of the medieval fortifications in Basel. Dating from the 1400s, Spalentor served as the gateway for supplies and provisions traveling from Alsace.
Considered as one of the most beautiful gates in Switzerland, Spalentor has been designated a Heritage Site of National Significance. If you look at the side of the facade facing away from Basel’s city center, you will find the historic figures of the Madonna and two prophets.
Basel has preserved many of its historic structures, the foremost of them being the grand Basler Münster. Built between 1019 and 1500, the cathedral is a celebration of both Romantic and Gothic architectural styles. Like the Spalentor, the Basler Münster is also registered as a Heritage Site of National Significance in Switzerland.
The silhouette of the Basler Münster shapes the city’s skyline and is a delight to photograph. The cathedral is stunning to the eye, the facade characterized by red sandstone, colored tiles and twin towers. There were five steeples originally, but the cathedral suffered extensive damages during the Great Basel Earthquake of 1356.
During the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation, many precious artworks of the Basler Münster were destroyed. Despite the religious fanaticism, many of these treasures have survived and have been restored.
Some artistic highlights at the Basler Münster include:
- The tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam
- Gallus Gate