Sights of the Southern Rhine


Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland with a large Romanesque Cathedral. Careful traffic management has vehicles out of the old city and it has an intensive tram network.

Set on the Rive Rhine near the point Switzerland, France and German join, Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland. I was expecting something special but was disappointed as the old city wasnít as attractive as Iíd expected with its big plastered and painted buildings. I was intrigued by the modern childrenís hospital to the north of the old town with its facade which changed from green to deep orange as you drive past it.


Good traffic management keeps the cars out of the old town although there are trams everywhere.


The old town is a network of narrow streets. It is easy to get lost, even with a map. The remains of the original town gates can be seen at Spalentor and also on St Johannes. There was a lot more relief than Iíd expected with some really quite steep roads, some with steps running at right angles to the river.

Basel    Basel

There are large bridges across the river with small ferries carrying foot passengers across. One of the best views of the C12th Cathedral with its brightly coloured tiled roof is from Wettstein Bridge.


The outside with its Romanesque north doorway and detailed carving is possibly more impressive than the inside which feels big and bare. Apart from climbing the towers, the other main attraction according to the guide books is the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam. My best bit was the crypt with its painted ceilings.

Strasbourg Cathedral

There are more medieval wall paintings in St Peterís Church, which gets ignored by the guide books. This is  off Petersgasse to the north west of the old city.

St Peter's Church, Basel

The splendid tower of the Protestant St Elisabethís Church next to Theatre Basel rivals the cathedral in splendour. Again the inside isnít as impressive although it has a glorious east window.
St Elisabeth Church, Basel

The Market Place is dominated by the bright red sandstone Rathaus. The centre part of the building with its courtyard dates from the C16th and was built when Basel joined the Swiss Confederation and was intended as a statement of grandeur with no expense spared. The paintings were added in the C17th and are by Hans Boch. There are two themes; Law and Legislation and Baselís membership of the Swiss Confederation.

Rathaus, Basel

Rathaus, Basel  Rathaus, Basel

At the back of the courtyard is a splendid portico with three doorways. In the opposite corner is a free toilet.

Rathaus, Basel

By the end of the C19th, Basel had grown considerably and a large extension was added to the Rathaus as well as the tall clock tower. The front of the building is almost impossible to photograph with all the eateries an market stalls in front of it.

For those planning a long stay, there are plenty of museums in Basel from paper making to dollís houses with history, music and art as well. There is also a zoo and a botanical garden.

There is an attractive tree lined walkway with plenty of seats along the east bank of the river in Kleinbasel. The river is popular with locals who sunbath and swim in it.

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