Basel, Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

History | Prince-Bishopric of Basel | As a member state in the Swiss Confederacy | Basel as a historical, international meeting place | Geography | Canton | City | Geography : Topography

🇨🇭 Basel or Basle is a city in north-western Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city. The official language of Basel is German, but the main spoken language is the local Basel German dialect.

Basel is commonly considered to be the cultural capital of Switzerland and the city is famous for its many museums, including the Kunstmuseum, which is the first collection of art accessible to the public in the world (1661) and the largest museum of art in Switzerland, the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen), the Museum Tinguely and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is the first public museum of contemporary art in Europe. Forty museums are spread throughout the city-canton, making Basel one of the largest cultural centres in relation to its size and population in Europe.

The University of Basel, Switzerland's oldest university (founded in 1460), and the city's centuries-long commitment to humanism, have made Basel a safe haven at times of political unrest in other parts of Europe for such notable people as Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Holbein family, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and in the 20th century also Hermann Hesse and Karl Jaspers.

Basel was the seat of a Prince-Bishopric starting in the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and an important cultural centre since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in the 20th century. In 1897, Basel was chosen by Theodor Herzl as the location for the first World Zionist Congress, and altogether the congress was held there ten times over a time span of 50 years, more than in any other location. The city is also home to the world headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements. The name of the city is internationally known through institutions like the Basel Accords, Art Basel and FC Basel.

In 2019 Basel was ranked the tenth most liveable city in the world by Mercer.


History There are traces of a settlement at the nearby Rhine knee from the early La Tène period (5th century BC). In the 2nd century BC, there was a village of the Raurici at the site of Basel-Gasfabrik (to the north-west of the Old City, and likely identical with the town of Arialbinnum that was mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana). The unfortified settlement was abandoned in the 1st century BC in favour of an oppidum on the site of Basel Minster, probably in reaction to the Roman invasion of Gaul.

In Roman Gaul, Augusta Raurica was established some 20 km (12 mi) from Basel as the regional administrative centre, while a castrum (fortified camp) was built on the site of the Celtic oppidum. In AD 83, the area was incorporated into the Roman province of Germania Superior. The Roman Senator Munatius Plancus is known as the traditional founder of Basel since the Renaissance. Roman control over the area deteriorated in the 3rd century, and Basel became an outpost of the Provincia Maxima Sequanorum formed by Diocletian. Basilia is first named by the Ammianus Marcellinus in his Res Gestae as part of the Roman military fortifications along the Rhine in the late 4th century.

The Germanic confederation of the Alemanni attempted to cross the Rhine several times in the 4th century, but were repelled; one such event was the Battle of Solicinium (368). However, in the great invasion of AD 406, the Alemanni appear to have crossed the Rhine a final time, conquering and then settling what is today Alsace and a large part of the Swiss Plateau.

The Duchy of Alemannia fell under Frankish rule in the 6th century. The Alemannic and Frankish settlement of Basel gradually grew around the old Roman castle in the 6th and 7th century. It appears that Basel surpassed the ancient regional capital of Augusta Raurica by the 7th century; based on the evidence of a gold tremissis (a small gold coin with the value of a third of a solidus) with the inscription Basilia fit, Basel seems to have minted its own coins in the 7th century.

Basel at this time was part of the Archdiocese of Besançon. A separate bishopric of Basel, replacing the ancient bishopric of Augusta Raurica, was established in the 8th century. Under bishop Haito (r. 806–823), the first cathedral was built on the site of the Roman castle (replaced by a Romanesque structure consecrated in 1019).

At the partition of the Carolingian Empire through the Treaty of Verdun in 843, Basel was first given to West Francia and became its German exclave. It passed to East Francia with the Treaty of Meerssen of 870. Basel was destroyed by the Magyars in 917. The rebuilt town became part of Upper Burgundy, and as such was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1032.


Prince-Bishopric of Basel From the donation by Rudolph III of Burgundy of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II of Metz in 999 until the Reformation, Basel was ruled by Prince-Bishops.

In 1019, the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.

In the 11th to 12th century, Basel gradually acquired the characteristics of a medieval city. The main market place is first mentioned in 1091. The first city walls were constructed around 1100 (with improvements made in the mid-13th and in the late 14th century). A city council of nobles and burghers is recorded for 1185, and the first mayor, Heinrich Steinlin of Murbach, for 1253. The first bridge across the Rhine was built in 1225 under bishop Heinrich von Thun (at the location of the modern Middle Bridge), and from this time the settlement of Kleinbasel gradually formed around the bridgehead on the far river bank. The bridge was largely funded by Basel's Jewish community who had settled there a century earlier. For many centuries to come Basel possessed the only permanent bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea". The first city guild were the furriers, established in 1226. A total of about fifteen guilds were established in the course of the 13th century, reflecting the increasing economic prosperity of the city. The Crusade of 1267 set out from Basel.

Political conflicts between the bishops and the burghers began in the mid-13th century and continued throughout the 14th century. By the late 14th century, the city was for all practical purposes independent although it continued to nominally pledge fealty to the bishops. The House of Habsburg attempted to gain control over the city. This was not successful, but it caused a political split among the burghers of Basel into a pro-Habsburg faction, known as Sterner, and an anti-Habsburg faction, the Psitticher.

The Black Death reached Basel in 1348. The Jews were blamed, and an estimated 50 to 70 Jews were executed by burning on 16 January 1349 in what has become known as the Basel massacre. The Basel earthquake of 1356 destroyed much of the city along with a number of castles in the vicinity.

A riot on 26 February 1376, known as Böse Fasnacht, led to the killing of a number of men of Leopold III, Duke of Austria. This was seen as a serious breach of the peace, and the city council blamed "foreign ruffians" for this and executed twelve alleged perpetrators. Leopold nevertheless had the city placed under imperial ban, and in a treaty of 9 July, Basel was given a heavy fine and was placed under Habsburg control. To free itself from Habsburg hegemony, Basel joined the Swabian League of Cities in 1385, and many knights of the pro-Habsburg faction, along with duke Leopold himself, were killed in the Battle of Sempach the following year. A formal treaty with Habsburg was made in 1393.

Basel had gained its de facto independence from both the bishop and from the Habsburgs and was free to pursue its own policy of territorial expansion, beginning around 1400.

The unique representation of a bishops' crozier as the heraldic charge in the coat of arms of Basel first appears in the form of a gilded wooden staff in the 12th century. It is of unknown origin or significance (beyond its obvious status of bishop's crozier), but it is assumed to have represented a relic, possibly attributed to Saint Germanus of Granfelden. This staff (known as Baselstab) became a symbol representing the Basel diocese, depicted in bishops' seals of the late medieval period. It is represented in a heraldic context in the early 14th century, not yet as a heraldic charge but as a kind of heraldic achievement flanked by the heraldic shields of the bishop. The staff is also represented in the bishops's seals of the period. The use of the Baselstab in black as the coat of arms of the city was introduced in 1385. From this time, the Baselstab in red represented the bishop, and the same charge in black represented the city. The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is In Silber ein schwarzer Baselstab (Argent, a staff of Basel sable). In 1400, Basel was able to purchase the towns of Liestal, Homburg and Waldenburg with its surrounding territory.

In 1412 (or earlier), the well-known Gasthof zum Goldenen Sternen was established. Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th century Council of Basel (1431–1449), including the 1439 election of antipope Felix V. In 1459, Pope Pius II endowed the University of Basel, where such notables as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Paracelsus later taught. At the same time the new craft of printing was introduced to Basel by apprentices of Johann Gutenberg. In 1461, the land around Farnsburg became a part of Basel.

The Schwabe publishing house was founded in 1488 by Johannes Petri and is the oldest publishing house still in business. Johann Froben also operated his printing house in Basel and was notable for publishing works by Erasmus. In 1495, Basel was incorporated into the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle; the Bishop of Basel was added to the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes of the Imperial Diet. In 1500 the construction of the Basel Münster was finished. In 1521 so was the bishop. The council, under the supremacy of the guilds, explained that henceforth they would only give allegiance to the Swiss Confederation, to whom the bishop appealed but in vain.


As a member state in the Swiss Confederacy The city had remained neutral through the Swabian War of 1499 despite being plundered by soldiers on both sides. The Treaty of Basel ended the war and granted the Swiss confederates exemptions from the emperor Maximillian's taxes and jurisdictions, separating Switzerland de facto from the Holy Roman Empire.

On 9 June 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation as its eleventh canton. It was the only canton that was asked to join, not the other way round. Basel had a strategic location, good relations with Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and control of the corn imports from Alsace, whereas the Swiss lands were becoming overpopulated and had few resources. A provision of the Charter accepting Basel required that in conflicts among the other cantons it was to stay neutral and offer its services for mediation.

In 1503, the new bishop Christoph von Utenheim refused to give Basel a new constitution; whereupon, to show its power, the city began to build a new city hall.

In 1529, the city became Protestant under Oecolampadius and the bishop's seat was moved to Porrentruy. The bishop's crook was however retained as the city's coat of arms. For centuries to come, a handful of wealthy families collectively referred to as the "Daig" played a pivotal role in city affairs as they gradually established themselves as a de facto city aristocracy.

The first edition of Christianae religionis institutio (Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin's great exposition of Calvinist doctrine) was published at Basel in March 1536.

In 1544, Johann von Brugge, a rich Dutch Protestant refugee, was given citizenship and lived respectably until his death in 1556, then buried with honors. His body was exhumed and burnt at the stake in 1559 after it was discovered that he was the Anabaptist David Joris.

In 1543, De humani corporis fabrica, the first book on human anatomy, was published and printed in Basel by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564).

There are indications Joachim Meyer, author of the influential 16th-century martial arts text Kunst des Fechten ("The Art of Fencing"), came from Basel. In 1661 the Amerbaschsches Kabinett, a vast collection of exotic artifacts, coins, medals and books was purchased by Basel. It was to become to the first public museum of art. Its collection became the core of the later Basel Museum of Art.

The Bernoulli family, which included important 17th- and 18th-century mathematicians such as Jakob Bernoulli, Johann Bernoulli and Daniel Bernoulli, were from Basel. The 18th-century mathematician Leonhard Euler was born in Basel and studied under Johann Bernoulli.

Modern history In 1792, the Republic of Rauracia, a revolutionary French client republic, was created. It lasted until 1793. After three years of political agitation and a short civil war in 1833 the disadvantaged countryside seceded from the Canton of Basel, forming the half canton of Basel-Landschaft. Between 1861 and 1878 the city walls were slighted.

On 3 July 1874, Switzerland's first zoo, the Zoo Basel, opened its doors in the south of the city towards Binningen.

In 1897 the first World Zionist Congress was held in Basel. Altogether the World Zionist Congress was held in Basel ten times, more than in any other city in the world.

On 16 November 1938, the psychedelic drug LSD was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.

In 1967, the population of Basel voted in favor of buying three works of art by painter Pablo Picasso which were at risk of being sold and taken out of the local museum of art, due to a financial crisis on the part of the owner's family. Therefore, Basel became the first city in the world where the population of a political community democratically decided to acquire works of art for a public institution. Pablo Picasso was so moved by the gesture that he subsequently gifted the city with an additional three paintings.


Basel as a historical, international meeting place Basel has often been the site of peace negotiations and other international meetings. The Treaty of Basel (1499) ended the Swabian War. Two years later Basel joined the Swiss Confederation. The Peace of Basel in 1795 between the French Republic and Prussia and Spain ended the First Coalition against France during the French Revolutionary Wars. In more recent times, the World Zionist Organization held its first congress in Basel from 29 August through 31 August 1897. Because of the Balkan Wars, the (Socialist) Second International held an extraordinary congress at Basel in 1912. In 1989, the Basel Convention was opened for signature with the aim of preventing the export of hazardous waste from wealthy to developing nations for disposal.


Geography Basel is located in Northwestern Switzerland and is commonly considered to be the capital of that region. It is close to the point where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, and Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. As of 2016, the Swiss Basel agglomeration was the third-largest in Switzerland, with a population of 541,000 in 74 municipalities in Switzerland (municipal count as of 2018). The metropolitan area, called the Trinational Eurodistrict of Basel (TEB), consists of 62 suburban communes including municipalities in neighboring countries, and counted 829,000 inhabitants in 2007.


Canton The canton Basel-Stadt consists of three municipalities: Riehen, Bettingen, and the city Basel itself. The political structure and agencies of the city and the canton are identical.


City Quarters The city itself has 19 quarters: • Grossbasel (Greater Basel): 1 Altstadt Grossbasel; 2 Vorstädte; 3 Am Ring; 4 Breite; 5 St. Alban; 6 Gundeldingen; 7 Bruderholz; 8 Bachletten; 9 Gotthelf; 10 Iselin; 11 St. Johann. • Kleinbasel (Lesser Basel): 12 Altstadt Kleinbasel; 13 Clara; 14 Wettstein; 15 Hirzbrunnen; 16 Rosental; 17 Matthäus.


Geography: Topography Basel has an area, as of 2009, of 23.91 square km (9.23 sq mi). Of this area, 0.95 km² (0.37 sq mi) or 4.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.88 km² (0.34 sq mi) or 3.7% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 20.67 km² (7.98 sq mi) or 86.4% is settled (buildings or roads), 1.45 km² (0.56 sq mi) or 6.1% is either rivers or lakes.

Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 10.2% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 40.7% and transportation infrastructure made up 24.0%. Power and water infrastructure as well as other special developed areas made up 2.7% of the area while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 8.9%. Out of the forested land, all of the forested land area is covered with heavy forests. Of the agricultural land, 2.5% is used for growing crops and 1.3% is pastures. All the water in the municipality is flowing water.

Basel, Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland 
<b>Basel, Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland</b>
Image: Adobe Stock HappyAlex #93823390

Basel is rated Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.

Basel was ranked #1203 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Basel has a population of over 180,000 people. Basel also forms the centre of the wider Basel metropolitan area which has a population of over 563,000 people. Basel is the #115 hipster city in the world, with a hipster score of 4.2634 according to the Hipster Index which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores. Basel is ranked #93 for startups with a score of 5.512.

To set up a UBI Lab for Basel see: Twitter:

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Basel has links with:

🇨🇮 Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire 🇺🇸 Boston, USA 🇺🇸 Brookline, USA 🇨🇳 Changning, China 🇺🇸 Miami Beach, USA 🇨🇳 Qingpu District, China 🇳🇱 Rotterdam, Netherlands 🇰🇷 Seoul, South Korea 🇨🇳 Shanghai, China 🇯🇵 Toyama, Japan 🇨🇱 Valparaíso, Chile
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license | GaWC | Hipster Index | Nomad | StartupBlink

Antipodal to Basel is: -172.412,-47.558

Locations Near: Basel 7.58801,47.5581

🇨🇭 Arlesheim 7.617,47.483 d: 8.6  

🇩🇪 Lörrach 7.667,47.617 d: 8.8  

🇨🇭 Liestal 7.726,47.485 d: 13.1  

🇨🇭 Rheinfelden 7.8,47.55 d: 15.9  

🇨🇭 Delémont 7.35,47.367 d: 27.8  

🇫🇷 Mulhouse 7.336,47.75 d: 28.5  

🇫🇷 Altkirch 7.239,47.623 d: 27.1  

🇨🇭 Langenthal 7.783,47.217 d: 40.7  

🇨🇭 Aarau 8.044,47.393 d: 38.9  

🇨🇭 Burgdorf 7.617,47.05 d: 56.5  

Antipodal to: Basel -172.412,-47.558

🇹🇴 Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 17066.3  

🇦🇸 Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 16311.3  

🇼🇸 Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 16264.5  

🇵🇫 Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 16081.4  

🇺🇸 Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 12335.8  

🇺🇸 Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 12256.8  

🇺🇸 Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 12244.2  

🇺🇸 Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 12239  

🇺🇸 Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 12238.5  

🇺🇸 Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 12221  

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