Basel, Switzerland

Basel is located along Switzerland’s northern border at the junction of France and Germany. Its elegant centerpiece is the Rathaus Town Hall. Take time to savor its ornate details on the façade and inside the courtyard.

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1 Rathaus Town Hall in Basel, Switzerland

The centerpiece of Basel, Switzerland, is the Rathaus. It was the site of the first Town Hall in the 14th century when citizens wanted independence from a ruling bishop. This gorgeous, red sandstone government center with three pointed arcades was built in the early 16th century, decorated with frescos in the early 17th century, and the bell tower was added around 1900. The Cantonal Government of Basel-Stadt still meet here every week and the Parliament assembles bi-monthly.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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2 Rathaus Roman Goddess Justitia Fresco in Basel, Switzerland

Justitia is the Latin name for the Roman goddess of Justice. This mural on the Front Chambers of the Basel Town Hall was first painted around 1608 and repainted in 1901. This personification of the law and courts is armed with a sword and holds balance scales, her symbol for justice.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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3 Rathaus Town Hall Façade Detail in Basel, Switzerland

Beneath the gilded spire called a flèche on the Rathaus is a statue of a Swiss Pikeman. They were mercenary soldiers during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the battlements are the coat of arms from the 12 cantons that constituted the Swiss Confederation in 1504 when this stunning town hall was built in Basel, Switzerland.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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4 Rathaus Town Hall Clock in Basel, Switzerland

This beautiful clock was added to the Rathaus Town Hall in 1512. On the left holding a church building is Heinrich II who was King of Germany and then Italy before becoming the Holy Roman Emperor in the early 11th century. On the right with a cross is his wife, Cunigunde of Luxembourg. In the center is Justitia, the crowned Lady of Justice. The Latin phrase translates into “Renovated into a large church in 1901.”

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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5 Rathaus Courtyard Munatius Plancus Statue in Basel, Switzerland

The sandstone statue in the Rathaus courtyard is Lucius Munatius Plancus, a Roman senator and officer of Julius Caesar when he founded the nearby city of Augusta Raurica in 44 B.C. It is the oldest Roman colony on the Rhine. The sculpture was created in 1580 by Hans Michel from Strasbourg. In the gallery are paintings from 1610 by Hans Bock. Above the left arch is a colorful tribute to when Basel joined the Swiss Federation in 1501.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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6 Rathaus Courtyard Soldier Carvings in Basel, Switzerland

There are twelve faces of Renaissance soldiers carved on the window frames of the inner courtyard of the Rathaus Town Hall in Basel, Switzerland. I assume they represent the 12 cantons that formed the Swiss Confederation in 1501. They were sculpted by Wilhelm Balmer and Franz Bauer in 1903.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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7 Rathaus Courtyard Paintings in Basel, Switzerland

The inner courtyard of the Rathaus Town Hall in Basel, Switzerland, is a virtual art gallery of paintings with four predominate themes. One displays law, legislation and justice, another are Biblical scenes, there are also important past citizens and political leaders and, finally, key moments in the city’s history. Several are from the 16th century by Hans Holbein and other Renaissance artists.

Marktpl. 9 4001 Basel, Switzerland
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8 Middle Bridge Over Rhine in Basel, Switzerland

In 1226, the stone and wood Middle Bridge was built over the Rhine River to connect the main section of Basel called Grossbasel with the Kleinbasel or right bank (shown). In the middle is the Käppelijoch chapel where unfaithful women prayed before being bound, weighted and thrown into the water below. In 1905, the Mittlere Brücke was reconstructed.

Mittlere Brücke, 4000 Basel, Switzerland
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9 Basel Münster Church Façade in Basel, Switzerland

If you look closely at the base of the Basel Münster’s left bell tower you’ll see a patch of white sandstone mixed in among the red. That is part of the original church that was consecrated in 1019. You’ll also see on this St. George Tower a statue of the saint dressed as a knight while slaying a dragon with his sword. Now a Protestant church, it was rebuilt after being partially destroyed by a 1356 earthquake. The final tower with a clock and sundial is called Martinsturm. It was completed in 1500.

Basel Minster 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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10 Basel Münster Pediment Statues in Basel, Switzerland

The benefactor for the Basel Münster was Heinrich II who was a Holy Roman Emperor when the church was consecrated in 1019. He is depicted on the left of the rose window as the old man with the beard holding a church. On the right side of the pediment is his wife, Empress Kunigunde, holding a cross. Similar statues of this pair are on either side of the tympanum over the main portal however they are portrayed as much younger.

Basel Minster 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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11 Wooden Door Facing Münsterplatz in Basel, Switzerland

This elegant, carved door with inlaid wood is facing the Münsterplatz near Basel Münster. The setting sun gave it a rich, amber coloring among the growing shadows.

Münsterpl. 16 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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