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Basel tourist attractions, activities, sightseeing, travel guide.

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Foundation Beyeler

About half a century ago, Ernest and Hildy Beyeler have begun to acquire modern paintings to adorn their home. Until present days, they had collected one of the greatest private art-collections in the country, which is now shared with the public in the suburb of Riehen, only fifteen minutes by tram from the city center. The impressive collection includes works by van Gogh, Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Max Ernst, Edgar Degas, Cézanne, Alexander Calder, Mark Rothko, Joan Miró, Léger, Georges Seurat, Georges Braque and Jackson Pollock amongst many others. Although needless to say, all these artists’ works are exceptional, displayed in Renzo Piano’s avant-garde edifice, which reminds of a ship on an anchor. Find out, especially Picasso’s 1944 “Woman in Green”, believed to be his final portrait of Dora Maar.


Zoologischer Garten Basel (Basel Zoological Garden)

Basel zoo garden

The city’s zoological garden was established in 1874 and is one of the greatest and world-known for breeding endangered species. Occupying an area of eleven hectares, in an urban setting, which is within a several minutes walk of the Basel’s railway station, this zoo has some 4500 animals of around six hundred different species. Also one can enjoy a show of trained elephants and sea lions perform various tricks. The Vivarium is also very rich - filled with everything from penguins to reptiles.


Kunstmuseum (Fine Arts Museum)

Basel’s Fine Arts Museum is the oldest museum in Switzerland, offering one of Old Continent’s most notable collections - from the old masters to the twentieth century paintings. You will enter the majestic edifice through a courtyard decorated with sculptures by Rodin, Calder, etc. The collections depict the development of art of the Upper Rhine Valley from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, as well as works by renowned modern artists.
In addition to the paintings by Holbein the Younger (who lived in the city between 1515 and 1538) and Konrad Witz, the Basel’s Kunstmuseum has a collection of Impressionist and modern art, featuring works by van Gogh, Picasso, Chagall, Klee, Giacometti and Gauguin.


Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Museum for Contemporary Art)
That is another remarkable museum - one of Europe’s leading museums, highlighting artists from the ‘60s to nowadays, featuring works by Richard Long, Jonathan Borofsky, Frank Stella, Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd and Bruce Nauman,

Museum Jean Tinguely

Museum Jean Tinguely Botta

Jean Tinguely museum is devoted to the work of Jean Tinguely - one of country best sculptors. The seventy mechanical sculptures in the collection cover four decades of artistic work, beginning with reliefs and printing machines from the ‘50s and evolving to later pieces like the “Mengele-Totentanz” cycle and huge clanking meta-harmonies. Also one will find many drawings and writings of the artist, which document Jean Tinguely projects around Europe and the USA.
The museum itself is impressive edifice - Mario Botta was the Swiss architect who designed the museum, especially to house the collection. Botta’s dramatic architectural vision turned into a contemporary landmark in Solitude Park on the right bank of the Rhine.

Basel Tinguely Fountain

Münster (Basel Cathedral)

Basel Cathedral Munster

This red sandstone edifice towering over Altstadt (the Old Town) was founded back in distant times - 1019. Ruined by an earthquake in 1356, it was reconstructed along Romanesque and Gothic lines with a green and yellow tile-roof.
The facade is richly adorned, representing various things - from prophets to virgins. The pulpit, dating back from 1486, was carved from a single massive block of stone. One of the numerous treasures, at the end of the south aisle is an eleventh century bas-relief. There’s a monumental slab on one of the pillars honouring Erasmus of Rotterdam, who passed away in the city in 1536. The cathedral also houses the tomb of Anna von Hohenberg - wife of Rudolf of Hapsburg. The double cloister, which was built in the fifteenth century on the foundations of an earlier Roman edifice, can be entered from Rittergasse. Visitors will be able to enjoy a great view from the twin Gothic towers of the cathedral. There are 2 very popular views of the cathedral - from the right bank of the River and from the back of the Pfalz (the palace). The twenty meters terrace also offers an excellent panorama of the Rhine River and Germany’s Black Forest.

Just on five minutes stroll from the Kunstmuseum, Kunsthalle gallery offers experimental works by various modern artists. Banners across the city announce the current displays in the gallery. Since 1872 its programme of exhibitions has included many of the leading artists of classical modern and abstract expressionism before they became household names. Since the early ‘80s it has been amongst the leading venues in the country to display the most recent trends in contemporary art.

Historisches Museum Barfüsserplatz
This former fourteenth century Franciscan church on Barefoot Square contains various relics of medieval Basel, including very rare tapestries and specimens of ecclesiastical art from the fifteenth century. One of the most popular sculptures is in the late Gothic style - representing a babbling king. The highlight among the exhibits is a reliquary bust of St. Ursula, in silver and gold, commissioned by the people of Basel to contain the saint’s relics.

The Rathaus (Town Hall) on Marktplatz, erected in 1504 in the late Burgundian style dominates the market square of the city. The sandstone edifice is adorned with shields of the ancient city guildhall and decorated with frescoes.

University of Basel, situated on the south side of Petersplatz is another place of interest. Established in 1460, it is one of the oldest academic institutions in the country. The University library houses a collection of rare manuscripts, as well as works by Erasmus, Zwingli Martin Luther; and school’s charter was signed by Pope Pius II.

Spalentor (Spalen Gate)

Basel Spalentor Spalen Gate

Situated west of Basel’s university, marks the end of the medieval part. This is also one of the most remarkable gates in Switzerland. Constructed in the 1400s, it was heavily restored in the nineteenth century, and has a pointed roof and 2 towers with battlements.

Dreiländereck(Three Countries’ Corner)

Dreilandereck Three Countries Corner Basel

Three Countries’ Corner, which bulge into the Rhine River, is one of city’s most unusual sites. If one walks around a pylon marking the exact spot, in just a few steps he can cross from Switzerland into Germany and then into France – of course without a passport.

Special Events
Since the Middle Ages, Fasnacht is the most exciting time to be in this ancient city. The entire city seems caught up in the revelry beginning the Monday after Ash Wednesday (late February or early March). Motorized and horse-drawn parades are some of the highlights of the activities, along with music from many and various bands.
The Basel Art Fair in middle June is getting larger every year, with about 260 dealers exhibiting the work of some one thousand artists. This fair is also hosting more than 2 dozen solo shows. However, Basel’s most traditional fest is Vogel Gryff Volksfest - a lion, a griffin and a “wild man of the woods” float down the Rhine River on a raft, which take place either on January 13, 20, or 27 (changes each year). The “Wilder Mann”, the lion, and the griffin are symbols for the 3 main neighborhoods of Basel and this event is followed by great street dancing.

Basel Old Town Altstadt