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-Roman rampart (Murus Gallicus) was uncovered during archeological excavations. The first bishop of Basel is claimed to be Justinianus 343-346 AD. The bishop's see was relocated from Augusta Raurica (today Kaiseraugst) to Minster hill during the Early Middle Ages. This transfer presumably took place at the beginning of the 7th century under bishop Ragnacharius, a former monk of monastery Luxeuil. There is no historical evidence for the existence of a cathedral before the 9th century.

Second church structure

Some time after the turn of the first millennium a new building was built in the early Romanesque style of the Ottonian period was built by order of Bishop Adalberto II (approx. 999 - 1025). The crypt of this building, consecrated in 1019, had not been expanded. At the end of the 11th century a tower made of light-colored limestone and molasse was erected on the western side of the building. This historic structure remains forming the bottom part of the north tower (Georgsturm) today.

The current church

The building as it stands today dates back for the most part to the late Romanesque building constructed in the last third of the 12th century and completed around 1225. On the foundations of the previous buildings a church with three naves and a transept was built. The western facade was finished sometime in the latter part of the 13th century. A third storey was added to Georgsturm, and the Martinsturm was started.

Even though supported by massive pillars, an earthquake in 1356 destroyed five towers, the choir and various vaults. Johannes von Gmünd, who was also the architect of Freiburg Minster, rebuilt the damaged cathedral and in 1363 the main altar was consecrated. In 1421 Ulrich von Ensingen, who constructed the towers of the minsters in Ulm and Strasbourg, began the extension of the northern tower. This phase ended in 1429. The southern tower was completed by Hans von Nussdorf in 1500. This date marks the official architectural completion of the minster. In the 15th century the major and the minor cloisters were added. The minster served as a bishop’s see until 1529 during the Reformation.

From 1852 until 1857 the rood screen was moved and the crypt on the western side was closed. In the 20th century the main aim of renovations has been to emphasize the late Romanesque architecture and to reverse some modifications made in the 1850s. Additionally, the floor was returned to its original level in 1975 and the crypt reopened. A workshop dedicated to taking care of the increasingly deteriorating sandstone exterior was set up in 1985.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David Presson (18 months ago)
Beautiful old church! The entrance is a small dark passage but once inside the vast spaces are inviting and enthralling. I was there for an organ recital on a Saturday afternoon. The sound was magnificent. The acoustics are great--the best seats (for sound and view) for that are behind the pulpit/podium area. The staff were gracious and kind. Be sure to see the crypt area under the church--fascinating!
Philippe Jacques Kradolfer (18 months ago)
A very important landmark in Basel with rich European religious, social and political history. The external and internal architecture are amazing. The stained glass windows are spectacular in colour and details. The reverent atmosphere, the tall ceilings and many details speak volumes of a time now gone in religious devotion. The view of the City of Basel and the Rhein from the highest point of the tower, which can be reached climbing three sets of stairs, is absolutely fantastic. The Basel Cathedral is definitely a must when visiting Basel.
Nikhil Sharma (19 months ago)
The most prominent church of Basel. You can go up the spire by paying 2 or 3 CHF per person and enjoy stunning views of the city. You can buy souvenirs at the ground floor shop. Quite spacious inside and lot of open spaces around it.
Charles Seaton Jr. (19 months ago)
A Beautiful Old Cathedral. You can actually climb to the top of the towers and have a view and the art inside is stunning, and right in front of the church is an open area to just chill, if nothing is present at the time.
Bruce Core (20 months ago)
A beautiful old church, where you can walk up to the tower. A small spiral staircase to the top. Excellent for everyone. The views of the city and mountains are amazing.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.