Cosmopolitan City In The Alps: Basel

A German-accented city in Switzerland, Basel is a delight in all seasons with its museums, its festivals, its galleries and its architectural wonders.

The Beyeler family’s personal art collection has been on display since 1977 under the aegis of this Foundation. Transformed into a giant art complex with museums, exhibition halls, restaurants and shopping areas, the venue is worth seeing for its world-famous works of art. Gracing the halls of this foundation, architecturally as distinguished as the museum itself, are canvases by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Miro. And the collection’s sculpture section boasts works from Europe, most notably Rodin, to as far away as Asia.

Museum Tinguely is just another of the venues you can enter free of charge on a ‘MuseumPass Card’
(, a single card that will get you into 190 museums, castles and gardens not only in Basel but in France, Germany and other parts of Switzerland. On display in the museum are the works of Tinguely and his colleagues as well as those of artists from other parts of Europe. Mobile sculptures, giant wheels and feathers are just a few of the remarkable works to be seen here.

Basel is eagerly awaiting the days from March 14th to 16th, when Fasnacht, the city’s best known and most spectacular festival, will take place in 2011. At 4 o’clock in the morning, all city lights are extinguished and lanterns lit during this festival which lasts three days. Revelers in unforgettable masks and extraordinary costumes will parade through the city’s streets to the accompaniment of drums and piccolo. Tourists and spectators will jam its cafes and restaurants for the duration.

Switzerland’s oldest university, this center of learning was founded in 1460 and today includes some 70 institutions offering education in a range of fields from law and literature to theology and the natural sciences. The list of famous figures who have taught here, where the famous Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus was a professor until his death, is endless. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is just one of them. 

You can take in Basel’s architectural wonders on a brief stroll of an hour and half around the city. Our point of departure is Marktplatz, a square known for its open air market. The Rathaus (City Hall) that stands here is a Renaissance palace dating to the 16th century. Vitra Design in Weil am Rhein (in Germany)(, one of the city’s most popular museums, the 11th century Münster (cathedral), Spalentor (Spalen Gate), Mittlere Rheinbrücke (the central bridge), the statue of the Hammering Man, Morger &Degelo Exhibition Tower, and the Dreilanderecke Port on the Rhine.

A city of eye catching fountains, Basel gets kudos for its magical fountains and water jets from various periods in history. Besides the lovely examples of the Mount Cathedral, Augustiner, Holbein, Gemsburg and Pisoni fountains, the Fasnachtsbrunnen, or Carnival Fountain, is one of the most compelling. Designed by Jean Tinguely and completed in 1977, it consists of a pool with ten extraordinary sculptures, all spewing jets of water.

With its mountains, forests and picturesque countryside, Basel offers a multifaceted urban panorama. Drawing attention for its multicultural structure, Basel also boasts a dynamic economy. The Old Town with its romantic atmosphere is a virtual gallery of history. And Basel’s houses, which have influenced world schools of architecture, are right nearby. It’s hard to believe the sheer variety of cultural venues in Basel. Chock full of theaters, concert halls, art galleries, cinemas and music venues, the city is also big on museums, many of which are first-rank and internationally known. The Kunstmuseum claims the world’s oldest art collection, Fondation Beyeler is home to a large number of historic art objects, and the Tinguely Museum houses the creations of iron sculptor Jean Tinguely. Meanwhile the Puppenhausmuseum (dolls), the Antikenmuseum (antiques), the Museum der Kulturen and the Historisches Museum are also popular. Visit the website to visit Basel’s museums on the most favorable terms.