Cute little Basel, located on the river Rhine in Northern Switzerland, is usually a quick stop-over for most of the tourists, who happen to visit the city only for its airport. What people don’t realize, though, is that while pursuing their dream destinations, they sometimes miss out on cities that could be even dreamier. And Basel is just one of those. So here are 7 persuasive reasons why overlooking Basel might be the biggest mistake on your travel agenda!
1. Find yourself lost in the right direction
Basel is where Switzerland, Germany and France come together in one. Colmar, the precious little French gem, is less than an hour away from Basel, as well as the beautiful woods of German Schwarzwald. So if you ever fancied visiting 3 countries in a day, Basel is a perfect solution.
2. Catch the fire in the old Town Hall
If you’ve been looking for the most memorable expression of architecture, this is it. The Basler Town Hall, locally known as Roothuus, is just the most fantastic old building you’ll ever get see – no exaggeration! It’s red with gold, its roof tiles look like reptile scales, and it feels like a castle caught on fire. In the middle of the courtyard, there’s also a kingly-looking statue of a black-skinned knight who is facing the motto of Basel inscripted on the antique walls of the town hall: Freiheit ist vor Silber und Gold – Freedom as above silver and gold.
3. Learn why Harry Potter will never travel to Switzerland
Remember that huge snake that Harry Potter killed in the Chamber of Secrets? Well guess what – the king of snakes, known as basilisk, was never really living in Hogwarts. In fact, it was only a temporary visit – basilisk’s real home is actually Basel and that’s where his name also comes from. Since the early times, basilisk has been a guardian of the city until Potter interfered in the most impolite manner and killed the poor reptile, leaving Basel with nothing but a memory of it… So unfair, isn’t it? The image of basilisk, though, is seen pretty much everywhere you go in the city, making it the least desired destination on Potter’s travel list. I mean, who wants to relive the old nightmares, right?
4. Feel like a fish in the river
There’s nothing more refreshing after a long day at work than… swimming back home like a little trout. Or tuna. Or whichever of the 50 fish species that inhabit the river Rhine. So unsurprisingly, lots of people in Basel have a special waterproof floating bag, called Wickelfisch, which is a ring buoy and a storage bag in one. Keeps your clothes safe and gets in you from one part of the city to another in no time. I call that a deal.
5. Enjoy the 3 prettiest days of the year
Basel, with less than 200 000 inhabitants, is small, for sure, and yet it has the biggest carnival in Switzerland – the Basler Fasnacht. Its history dates back to the 11th century, which, as the matter of fact, makes it one of the oldest cultural traditions in Europe. Also known as ‘the three prettiest days’ (die drei schönsten Tage), Fasnacht is the time of the year when the city goes wild, celebrating its boundless creativity with enviable passion. The colors of mask parades, the sounds of piccolo, the confetti, the laughter – the Basel carnival is a whirl of positive emotions.
6. Satisfy your most demanding tastes in art
In case you didn’t know, Basel is one of the world’s most significant centers of contemporary art. Galleries, countless exhibitions, art events – Basel really knows how to please high tastes. The most famous art platform in the city is, of course, Art Basel that has grown into an internationally renowned series of art shows staged in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong. So if you strive for modern culture, you’ve come to the right place.
7. Swear like a monk from the Middle Ages
If it’s ever possible to get super excited about a visit to a church, it’s only when you visit The Basel Minster. That red sandstone landmark, which defines the whole cityscape of Basel, might be not the most beautiful church from the outside, but definitely one of the most memorable ones in the inside. For starters, the Basel Minster has this amazing courtyard that gives it a feeling of a little town – a town which walls are all covered with tombstones. It’s an eerie sensation, really. But the most thrilling part comes when you go up the stairs for the view over Basel. Horribly steep and narrow as hell – I believe these were the exact words that the monks were using when they were climbing up the stairs. But the view you get from atop is definitely worth all the effort.