Top Historic Sights in Basel, Switzerland

Explore the historic highlights of Basel

Basel Minster

The Basel Minster is one of the main landmarks and tourist attractions of the Swiss city of Basel. It adds definition to the cityscape with its red sandstone architecture and coloured roof tiles, its two slim towers and the cross-shaped intersection of the main roof. Early structures The hill on which the Minster is located today was already a building site in the late Celtic Era in first century BC. A pre-R ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Basel Historical Museum

Opened in 1894, the Basel Historical Museum is one of the largest and most important museums of its kind in Switzerland. The museum is divided into four sections (buildings), three of which are within the city of Basel. These are Barfüsserkirche, Haus zum Kirschgarten and the Musikmuseum. The fourth section, the Coach and Carriage Museum lies slightly outside Basel, in the neighbouring town of Münchenstein. ...
Founded: 1894 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Elisabethenkirche

The Elisabethenkirche is a well detailed example of Swiss Gothic Revival style churches. It has a 72 metres tall bell tower and spire. The tower has internal stairs. The church was begun in 1857 and completed in 1864. The construction was sponsored by the wealthy Basel businessman Christoph Merian and his wife Margarethe Burckhardt-Merian. They were both laid to rest in black marble sarcophagi in the crypt below t ...
Founded: 1857-1864 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Kunstmuseum Basel

The Kunstmuseum Basel houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland. The Kunstmuseum possesses the largest collection of works by the Holbein family. Further examples of Renaissance art include important pieces by such masters as Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung (called Grien), Martin Schongauer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Mathias Grünewald. The main features of the 17th and 18 ...
Founded: 1931-1936 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Spalen Gate

The Gate of Spalen (Spalentor) is a former city gate in the ancient city walls of Basel. One of the three remaining gateways, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful gates of Switzerland. In October 1356, a major earthquake destroyed the old Basel. Then local people surrounded their newly built city with a high city wall and a moat in front of it. The ring wall had over 40 towers and seven of them were gate ...
Founded: 1473 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

St. Paul's Church

St. Paul"s Church (Pauluskirche) was constructed between 1898 and 1901 by Karl Moser (1860–1936) and Robert Curjel and features a Neo-Romanesque architectural style. The apse is fitted with a stone pulpit that is raised behind a stone communion table. The apse also features a gallery, with a central arch behind the pulpit, in which the organ and choir are placed. It features artwork in Art Nouveau st ...
Founded: 1898-1901 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).