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Who is my city guide?
Sometimes I meet people who only accompany me briefly on my journey through life. But sometimes I meet people who are of the same mindset as I am. That is how it is with Roland; we have known each other for well over 20 years. The first adventure on my Swiss tour Roland showed me "his" Basel. Not only that he likes to travel and alone also. So, two solo travelers met. He knows Basel because he grew up here. His roots are in Appenzell and he is immensely proud of them, but today he showed me why he has Basel in his heart.
Let us go
On a hot July day, I had bought a day ticket for public transportation from the local government at a discounted price. That way I did not have to worry if we would use the bus or tram. My day ticket covers everything. Basel can be reached from Zurich with a direct connection of one hour. Did you know that the Basel station is the largest border station in Europe? Trains from Basel to Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France run through this station.
The meeting point and starting point of our tour was this special train station. We took tram number 2 right up to the art museum. There is a bistro in the courtyard of the art museum, for city strollers who still need some refreshment. Over the Rittergasse a few minutes later we saw the Munster: our 1st stop.
The Basel Munster spans over 500 years of building history. The beginnings of the cathedral are unsettled. The floor plan is archaeologically proven and dates back to the first half of the 9th century. Due to age and constant changes, continuous care is necessary. A construction hut has been installed behind the cathedral since 1985. This is how the devastating condition of the coloured sandstone is dedicated.
After walking through the aisles of the cathedral, we went out onto the terrace. At the Munsterhof we sat in the shade for a while and let our gaze wander over the city of Basel. Growing up in Basel, Roland spent a lot of time on the banks of the Rhine or visited the countless museums.
Our path continued. We circled the Munster on the way to the Munsterplatz. On the front facade you can see St. Georg, dragon slayer and martyr. He probably fought against larger dragons than the small one shown here.
The south tower from 1883 can be visited via a steep spiral staircase. However, we had more on our program that day, so we skipped it.
We walked past Munsterplatz, the Natural History Museum and houses from the 15th century, which were then inhabited by canons of the cathedral.
Our next destination: over the Mittelbrucke (Middle bridge) into Utengasse. There is a well-known shopping centre, where we had healthy lunch in the restaurant.
Time for the river
After our lunch, our way led back towards the Mittelbrucke and on to the Klingental ferry station, which is located directly in front of the military barracks. In the past, the crossing fee was CHF 0.50 in Roland's childhood, now the short trip to the other bank costs CHF 1.60. We had leisurely crossed the Rhine and admired the many brave swimmers in the water, while the old buildings lined up along the bank to us.
Back with safe ground under our feet we climbed the stairs and across the street to the Confiserie Bachmann. Here you will find the best chocolate truffles in all of Basel, and in midsummer an air-conditioned room for a coffee break.
A few minutes from the Confiserie over the market square we went further to the Basel town hall. The imposing red structure was completed in 1501, and Basel joined the Swiss Confederation in the same year. The cantonal government of Basel-Stadt is located here. Inside you can see the facade figures, which were replaced in 1901 due to the renovation. Maybe you can spot the replacements outside?
The remains of the palace after the Basel earthquake are the oldest parts of the town hall. Later added the Gothic central building with the three arch entrances and the golden tower from 1507.
An interesting language fact: The town hall is in German “Rathaus”, which is in the accent of Basel pronounced like red hall, red like the façade of the town hall.
The earthquake from 1356
Not only parts of the palace were destroyed by a massive earthquake in October 1356. All-important churches and castles within a radius of 30 km were destroyed at that time. Even in Zurich and Constance you could still feel the aftermaths of the earthquake.
Houses and the choir of the Basel Munster collapsed. The five towers, various vaults and parts of the crypts were also destroyed.
We walked across the market square again and left the town hall behind us. A tram station at the market square connected our path to the starting point from the morning,the main train station.
Did you like this little trip? If you would like to show me your city, please write to me. I still have a few days off.
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