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Switzerland:  Basel Xmas Market
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Switzerland: Basel

Basel City Xmas Market
Basel Rathaus

 

The nicest city in Switzerland!
Related pages:

Basel Fasnacht - a terrific carnival
Baselbiet - countryside and towns

Basel City

Basel Rhine
The Cathedral (Münster) above the Rhine with one of the four ferries - Ueli, Vogel Gryff, Leu and Wilde Maa - that operate powered only by the flow of the river.

 

The nicest Swiss city of them all. It has beautiful buildings in the Market and Cathedral Squares in particular, a wide river with quirky little ferries, excellent trams, fine restaurants and bars, and a magnificent carnival Fasnacht, which unfortunately in recent years has become a victim of its own success.

Basel
On the tower of the Rathaus a knight holds a pennant with the symbol of the city, a bishop's crozier.

Reputedly founded by the Roman senator Munatius Plancus, from 1032 the city was part of the Germanic Empire, later being ruled by a prince bishop, from which the city derives its symbol - a bishop's crozier. Fifty years later the city was surrounded by a wall but the whole lot burned in 1185 - in 1356 an earthquake destroyed part of the city! 1,2,3

Basel
Ferry Leu on the Rhine.
Basel
Münsterplatz, 1991.
Basel
Romanesque stone elephants on the west front of the cathedral.
Basel
Basel National Day fireworks, 1990.
Basel
Swiss National Day fireworks seen from our house, 2018.
Basel

The first bridge - wooden of course - was built across the Rhine in 1225 cementing the city's importance for trade.

Basel
A modern barge heads down the Rhine under Mittlere Brücke.

The University of Basel is Switzerland's oldest university, founded in 1460 and in 1471 the emperor conferred on Basel the right to hold two fairs - the Autumn Fair is still held annually and is very popular throughout the three countries, due to Basel's location so close to the borders with France and Germany. Nowadays the lovely Xmas Market is equally popular - the best in the region.

Basel became part of the Swiss Confederation, originally only the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, founded on 1 August 1291, in 1501, and is the smallest Swiss canton. Every year there are big celebrations on August 1st, Swiss National Day. In 1990, we went into the city to the Rhine the evening before where there is a huge firework display. In later years, living in Münchenstein, we can see the fireworks in Basel from our house!

Basel
Swiss National Day fireworks seen from our house, 2018.
Basel

In 1529 Basel joined the Protestant Reformation, begun by Martin Luther in 1517. after an iconoclastic riot in the city when works of art in the churches were destroyed. The city became a centre for printing of reformational books - paper had been made in Basel since the fifteenth century and the influx of religious refugees boosted the city's economy, most notably in the silk trade and eventually silk weaving which eventually led to the establishment of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, so important to the city today.4

Basel
Zum Braunen Mutz
A traditional brasserie and beer hall.
Basel

The city has several notable buildings. The cathedral goes back to the early part of the ninth century, though there is little of this left. The present late Romanesque/Gothic cathedral was built in the eleventh century, though there are fourteenth century restorations after the earthquake of 1356 destroyed vaults, spires and the crypt. With the completion of the cloisters and the two towers of St Martin and St George in the fifteenth century the cathedral was complete.

The beautiful Rathaus (town hall) in Marktplatz was built 1503-7 and recently restored.

Basel
The cathedral, 1991.
Basel
The police post at the base of the tall tower on the right of the Rathaus, built in the 19th century.

Basel
Statue of Roman senator Munatius Plancus, founder of the city.

 

Basel
Basel
Rathaus on Marktplatz.
Basel
Marktplatz 1991
Basel
Marktplatz at Christmas, 2007.
There is a produce market here every weekday morning.
Basel
Basel
Basel
Basel
In the courtyard of the Rathaus.
Basel
Basel
The kinetic sculpture of Jean Tinguely in the Tinguely Museum.
Basel

Basel

 


Video: Tinguely Fountain
Basel
Frozen Tinguely fountain.
Not a huge fan of the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, but I do like this fountain in a small square on Steinenberg with its ten moving figures. It stands where the stage of the old city theatre once stood.

Barfusserplatz, around the old Barfüsserkirche, was once the site of a Franciscan Monastery. Barfüsser translates as "bare-footed", another name for the Franciscan monks. Their monastery was first built here in 1250, a larger one replacing it around 50 years later. In 1529, when Basel joined the Reformation, it became the property of the city. The monastery was eventually demolished in 1843 but the city was undecided for many years about what to do with the church. Eventually it was restored and in 1894 opened as the city's Historical Museum.

Basel Fasnacht
Easter in Switzerland - all that chocolate! Our favourite chocolate shop in Basel, Läderach.
Basel
View over Basel rooftops from Lohnhof.
Basel
Leonardskirche

 

To the west of Barfüsserplatz is the Lohnhof on an elevated site, a collection of historical buildings. The late Gothic Leonardskirche is here, parts of it dating back to the 11th century.

 



Basel


Basel
In 2011 the Amorphophallus titanum (or titum arum) plant in the botanic garden at the university flowered for the first time, growing to a height of over two and a half metres. They can take up to twenty years before they flower and thereafter flowering can be intermittent. It is sometimes called the "corpse flower" because it emits an atrocious smell to attract pollinators.6
Basel
Leonardskirche
Basel
Basel
Amorphophallus titanum

 

Xmas Market

Basel Xmas Market
Christmas Market at the cathedral.Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Läckerli is a Basel delicacy; for over a hundred years this spiced honey and almond-based sweet has been manufactured and sold here.

Basel Xmas Market
Selling Christmas stollen.

 

Basel has a really good Christmas Market. Traditionally it is held in Barfusserplatz, around the old Barfüsserkirche, now the Historisches Museum. Now there is a second at the cathedral in Münsterplatz.

Basel Xmas Market
A snowy Xmas market, Barfüsserplatz, 2010.

The Xmas market fills the square in front of the former Barfüsserkirche and the passageways around it, a very traditional location for a fair.

Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market

There are all kinds of stalls and some traders occupy the same spot year after year. Though we did notice in 2019 that a couple of regular traders were no longer there.

Basel Xmas Market

 

Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
A cherub holding a sausage!
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
This wonderful lady was here every year until 2019.
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
Basel Xmas Market
The "Singing Moose" café.
Basel Xmas Market
The Swiss do like traditional wooden toys.

Video: Singing Moose

We always have sausage and glühwein at the "Singing Moose" café in Barfüsserplatz - it has a proper name but that's what we always call it for the mechanical singing moose above the entrance. There used to be just one but a few years ago Mrs Moose appeared alongside Mr!

Basel Xmas Market
Sausages and glühwein at the "Singing Moose" café.

 

References

  1. Michelin Guide to Switzerland, 1982
  2. Phaidon Cultural Guide to Switzerland, 1985
  3. Lonely Planet Guide to Switzerland, 6th Edition, 2009
  4. Basel - The Reformation
  5. Barfüsserkirche
  6. Stinking giant a hit in Basel