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In Basel you can experience history, modernity, a great atmosphere and good food all in one place. The cultural city on the Rhine offers plenty of attractions for people of all ages: travel back in time to the 15th century, marvel at exotic animal species or indulge in traditional specialities to your heart's content. We reveal which attractions in Basel you absolutely shouldn't miss.
The 800-year-old Basel Minster is the symbol of the city. With its red sandstone, colourful roof and slender towers, it gives the Old Town a special charm and draws countless visitors every day. The crypt, choir, Gallus gate and tomb of Dutch scholar Erasmus von Rotterdam all bear witness to the building's several centuries of history.
Directly behind the Minster you will find the "Pfalz" – a terrace high above the Rhine that offers wonderful views over the entire Old Town and all the way up to the Dreiländereck border triangle.
The harmonious city image is characterized by picturesque corners and alleyways such as the Spalenberg: with its small boutiques, galleries and speciality food shops, this street has evolved into a popular sight in Basel – even celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Princess Diana once took a walk along the Spalenberg!
Good to know: if you'd like to discover the sights of Basel in one day, look no further than the two-hour guided walking tour "Stories of Basel's Old Town". This provides interesting facts and anecdotes about Basel and its creation. In addition, you will walk past all of the historic and modern buildings such as the Rathaus (Town Hall), Barfüsserkirche and museums, as well as the Tinguely Fountain.
This art museum is one of the most important sights in Basel – after all, it regularly appears in the rankings of the best museums in the world. During a visit to Kunstmuseum Basel you can marvel at the oldest public art collection in the world, which contains around four thousand paintings, sculptures, installations and videos, as well as three hundred thousand drawings and prints. The focus is on works by artists along the upper Rhine as well as on international art from the 19th century to the present day. The Kunstmuseum's architecture is also fascinating: it consists of three buildings, the main one having been created in 1936 by Basel architect Rudolf Christ and Stuttgart architect Paul Bonatz.
In 1977, Swiss painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely created a unique work of art on the spot where the stage of the city theatre used to stand: in a fountain pool, he symbolically positioned ten mechanical sculptures powered by low-voltage current, which are all constantly moving and which "talk" to one another. The Tinguely Fountain shows the water features typical of the artist and can rightly be described as a modern icon of the city.
Four Rhine ferries connect the city districts of Grossbasel and Kleinbasel: they are named "Wild Maa", "Leu", "Vogel Gryff" and "Ueli" and are attached to a long steel cable and pushed across the river by the power of the current alone. The short crossing gives you some of the best views of Basel's sights, such as the Minster, and allows you to completely slow down – just as the locals have been doing for 150 years or so. The ferry crossings take place all year round.
Basel Zoo, Switzerland's oldest, opened its gates in 1874 and is always worth a visit – and not only for families with children. Affectionately known as "Zolli" by the locals, it is home to a large number of native and exotic animal species such as lions, elephants, giraffes and chimpanzees. During summer, the well-maintained park invites visitors to take a wander in the open, while the animal houses and underwater world of the vivarium are more popular during the winter months.
In addition to the numerous sights, the Basel area also impresses with its top-class culinary offering. One particular highlight is, without a doubt, the "Zünfte" restaurants: in the listed guild rooms, you can experience centuries of history and culinary delights all in one. Whether you find yourself in Zunftrestaurant Zur Mägd, Schlüsselzunft or Safran Zunft – the traditional dinner is guaranteed to be a memorable one.