Basel is considered a pocket size metropolis: Nearly 40 museums, some with worldwide fame, call the city their home. And yet, this city on the Rhine only counts some 190.000 inhabitants. Visitors to Basel can enjoy a maximum of urban life and international culture within a minimum of space - the entire city area of Basel is 37 km² - and are quickly and easily out in the surrounding nature, the Swiss mountains, the French Alsace region or Germany’s Black Forest. Because Basel is located in the Upper Rhine Valley, at the bend of the Rhine known as the “Rheinknie”, and right in the heart of Europe where Germany and France border on Switzerland.
A unique jewel for art connoisseurs
Basel is in touch with the latest trends, just like Paris, Berlin or London - but life is much more relaxed here. The culmination of the art season is reached in early summer: In June the world’s leading gallery owners and their artists gather for a visit of the Art Basel art fair. During this event the whole city changes into a catwalk for VIPs and a market place for art. But the city is a regular course of arts the whole year around: The Fondation Beyeler, the Tinguely Musuem, the Museum of Fine Arts and a large number of other collections repeatedly break the record attendances of the previous year. The Museum of Fine Arts is Europe’s oldest public municipal museum. Here one can wander through European art history and marvel at the works of Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens, van Gogh, Kokoschka or Picasso. Enthusiasts of the classical modernists can enjoy the wonderfully arranged works of art in Renzo Piano’s Fondation Beyeler, a museum sensitively integrated into an English park. Its works by Andy Warhol, Neo Rauch, Anselm Kiefer and many more form an impressive ensemble.
Cultural heritage through the centuries
The wealthy citizens have been shaping the city’s public life for a long time by generously supporting and financing art and architecture, music and theatre. All this sensitivity and appreciation of art stems from the fact that education is of highest priority in Basel - it is no coincidence that the world’s first publishing house was founded here some 500 years ago, as well as Switzerland’s first university. But Basel has always been cosmopolitan, wealthy and international due to the trade routes: More than 2500 years ago the Celts controlled this trading hub on the Rhine, from where goods from all parts of the known world were shipped onward by boat. The Romans followed, and after them the Germanic tribes. The Rhine is the city’s life-line to this very day, and visitors can still benefit from the traditional generosity of Basel’s inhabitants.
A Mecca for architecture enthusiasts
When wandering through the idyllic and carefully tended historic part of the city with its winding alleyways, passing the colourful town houses, the cathedral and the small medieval churches one repeatedly comes across highlights of modern architecture. The eyes of the world are on Basel whenever something new is being built here. The museums, the Messeturm trade fair tower, office buildings, entire streets can be seen as an architectural who’s who. Even when Basel’s citizens commission a railway switch tower or the zoo’s monkey house the implementation merits the selection of star architects to do the job. Buildings by Herzog & de Meuron, Renzo Piano or Diener & Diener have come to define the city. Right next to Basel, in Weil am Rhein on the German side of the river, the world-renowned Vitra Design Museum stands amongst the cherry trees: A unique collection of design and at the same time an ensemble of world-class architecture. Famous architects such as Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando realised their first buildings in Europe on this site. An exhibition pavilion by Basel’s own Herzog & de Meuron was just recently added.
Basel attracts the global players
Internationality is taken for granted in Basel. All kinds of languages can be heard on the streets, almost everyone speaks English. This is not only due to the large number of tourists: Qualified employees from Europe, America and Asia come to Basel to work for one of the global corporations such as Roche, Syngenta or Novartis. The little city can be found amongst the world’s most successful economic regions, especially in field of life sciences and healthcare. The foundation for today’s pharmaceutical industry was laid some 300 years ago in the production of silk ribbons and dyestuffs. High standards of quality in all areas are now synonymous with Swissness.
Relaxation for the senses
With all its urban charm Basel also has any amount of resting points to offer: Street cafés in the bustling street life invite you to stay for a while, a spectacular view over the city and the Rhine towards the French Vosges mountains and the hills of the Black Forest presents itself from the Münsterberg cathedral hill. A leisurely boat ride on the river or even just the crossing on one of the engineless ferries which is only powered by the current can reawaken the senses. The riverbanks are filled with people taking a stroll, just idling about, businessmen. Bathers let the river carry them on its current: This is one of the favourite pastimes during summer in Basel. At the end of the day the locals and guests come together in the traditional pubs or the restaurants with cuisine ranging from international to hearty home cooking. Basel can offer everything to the discerning palate. By smell or by sight: Nobody can withstand the charm of the city!