Basel, Münsterpfalz
Basel, Münsterpfalz
Coat of arms of Basel
Coat of arms
Basel is located in Switzerland
Location of Basel
Karte Gemeinde Basel 2007.png
Basel is located in Canton of Basel-Stadt
Basel (Canton of Basel-Stadt)
Coordinates: 47°34′N 7°36′E / 47°34′N 7°36′E / 47.567; 7.600
Country Switzerland
Canton Basel-Stadt
District n.a.
 •  Executive Regierungsrat
with 7 members
 •  Mayor Regierungspräsident  (list)
Guy Morin  GPS/PES
(as of February 2014)
 •  Parliament Grosser Rat
with 100 members
Area [1]
 • Total 23.85 km2 (9.21 sq mi)
Elevation (Mittlere Rheinbrücke) 254 m (833 ft)
Highest elevation (Wasserturm Bruderholz) 366 m (1,201 ft)
Lowest elevation ( Rhine shore, national border at Kleinhüningen) 244.75 m (802.99 ft)
Population (Jun 2017 [2])
 • Total 175,940
 • Density 7,400/km2 (19,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s) German: Basler(in), French: Bâlois(e)
Postal code 4000
SFOS number 2701
Surrounded by Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-Louis (FR-68), Weil am Rhein (DE-BW)
Twin towns Shanghai, US State Massachusetts, Miami Beach
SFSO statistics

Basel ( əl/; also Basle l/; German: Basel [ˈbaːzl̩]; French: Bâle [bɑːl]; Italian: Basilea [baziˈlɛːa]) is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 175,000 inhabitants. [3]

Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. In 2014, the Basel agglomeration was the third largest in Switzerland with a population of 537,100 [4] in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and an additional 53 in neighboring countries (municipal count as of 2000). [5] The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

The city is known for its many internationally renowned museums, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in Europe (1661) and the largest museum of art in the whole of Switzerland, to the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen). The University of Basel, founded in 1460, Switzerland's oldest university and the city's centuries long commitment to humanism, have made Basel a safe haven during times of political unrest in other parts of Europe to the likes of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Holbein family, and more recently also to Hermann Hesse and Karl Jaspers.

Basel has been the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and important cultural centre since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century. In 1897 the city was chosen as the location for the first World Zionist Congress by Theodor Herzl, and all together the congress has taken place in Basel for ten times over a time span of fifty years, more than in any other city in the world. The city is also home to the worldwide seat of the Bank for International Settlements.

Today the city of Basel, together with two other Swiss cities Zürich and Geneva, is counted among the cities with the highest standards of living in the entire world. [6]


Early history

Roman foundation and medieval wall, at the site of Basel oppidum

There are settlement traces on the 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 northwest of the Old City, likely identical with the town of Arialbinnum mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana. [7] 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 from Basel as the regional administrative centre, while a castra (castle) was built on the site of the Celtic oppidum. The city of Basel eventually grew around the castle. In AD 83, Basel was incorporated into the Roman province of Germania Superior. Roman control over the area deteriorated in the 3rd century, and Basel became an outpost of the Provincia Maxima Sequanorum formed by Diocletian.

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

The Duchy of Alemannia fell under Frankish rule in the 6th century, and by the 7th century, the former bishopric of Augusta Raurica was re-established as the Bishopric of Basel. Based on the evidence of a third solidus with the inscription Basilia fit, Basel seems to have minted its own coins in the 7th century. [8] Under bishop Haito, the first cathedral was built on the site of the Roman castle, later replaced by a Romanesque structure consecrated in 1019. At the partition of the Carolingian Empire, Basel was first given to West Francia, but passed to East Francia with the treaty of Meerssen of 870.

The city was plundered and destroyed by a Magyar invasion of 917. The rebuilt city became part of Upper Burgundy, and as such was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1032.

Prince-Bishopric of Basel

Basel Minster, built between 1019 and 1500

Since the donation by Rudolph III of Burgundy [9] of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II in 999 till the Reformation, Basel was ruled by prince-bishops (see Bishop of Basel, [10] whose memory is preserved in the crosier shown on the Basel coat-of-arms – see above).

In 1019, the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor. [11] In 1225–1226, a bridge, now known as the Middle Bridge, was constructed by Bishop Heinrich von Thun and Lesser Basel ( Kleinbasel) founded as a bridgehead to protect the bridge. The bridge was largely funded by Basel's Jewish community which had settled there a century earlier. [12] For many centuries to come Basel possessed the only permanent bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea".

The Bishop also allowed the furriers to establish a guild in 1226. Eventually about 15 guilds were established in the 13th century. They increased the town's, and hence the bishop's, reputation, influence, and income from the taxes and duties on goods in Basel's expanding market. [12]

In 1347, the plague came to Europe but did not reach Basel until June 1349. The guilds, asserting that the Jews were responsible—several had been tortured and confessed—demanded they be executed, which the Council did in January 1349, except for a few who escaped to Alsace. [12] During the Basel massacre, 600 Jews were murdered. They were shackled inside a wooden barn on an island in the Rhine, which was set afire. The few survivors - young orphans - were forcibly converted to Christianity. The council then forbade Jews in Basel for 200 years, except that their money was helpful in rebuilding after the Basel earthquake of 1356 which destroyed much of the city along with a number of castles in the vicinity. The city offered courts to nobles as an alternative to rebuilding their castles, in exchange for the nobles' military protection of the city.

1493 woodcut of Basle, from the Nuremberg Chronicle

In 1412 (or earlier), the well-known guesthouse 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.

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. [13] In 1495, Basel was incorporated in the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle; the Bishop of Basel was added to the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes. 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. [12]

As a member state in the Swiss Confederacy

Map of Basel in 1642, engraved by Matthäus Merian, oriented with SW at the top and NE at the bottom.

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. [14]

On 9 June 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation as its eleventh canton. [15] It was the only canton that had been 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. [16] [17]

In 1503, the new bishop Christoph von Utenheim refused to give Basel a new constitution whereupon, to show its power, the city began the construction of a new city hall. [12]

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 the 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 ReligionJohn Calvin's great exposition of Calvinist doctrine) was published at Basel in March 1536. [18]

In 1544, Johann von Brugge, a rich Dutch Protestant refugee, was given citizenship and lived respectfully 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. [12]

In 1543, De humani corporis fabrica, the first book on human anatomy, was published and printed in Basel by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564). [19]

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 1662 the Amerbaschsches Kabinett was established in Basel as 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. [20] 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. [21]

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

Second World Zionist Congress in Basel, 1898 (Stadtcasino)

In 1897 the first World Zionist Congress was held in Basel. Altogether the World Zionist Congress took place in Basel for ten times, more than in any other city in the world. [22]

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

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 August 29 through August 31, 1897. Because of the Balkan Wars, the 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.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Basel
Akan: Basel
Alemannisch: Basel
አማርኛ: ባዝል
العربية: بازل
arpetan: Bâla
asturianu: Basilea
تۆرکجه: بازل
বাংলা: বাজেল
Bân-lâm-gú: Basel
беларуская: Базель
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Базэль
български: Базел
བོད་ཡིག: པ་སེལ།
bosanski: Basel
brezhoneg: Basel
català: Basilea
Чӑвашла: Базель
čeština: Basilej
Cymraeg: Basel (dinas)
dansk: Basel
Deutsch: Basel
eesti: Basel
español: Basilea
Esperanto: Bazelo
euskara: Basilea
فارسی: بازل
français: Bâle
Frysk: Basel
Gaeilge: Basel
Gàidhlig: Basel
galego: Basilea
한국어: 바젤
Հայերեն: Բազել
hornjoserbsce: Basel
hrvatski: Basel
Ido: Basel
Bahasa Indonesia: Basel
interlingua: Basel
Interlingue: Basel
Ирон: Базель
íslenska: Basel
italiano: Basilea
עברית: בזל
Basa Jawa: Basel
ქართული: ბაზელი
қазақша: Базель
Latina: Basilea
latviešu: Bāzele
Lëtzebuergesch: Basel
lietuvių: Bazelis
lingála: Bâle (engumba)
lumbaart: Basilea
magyar: Bázel
македонски: Базел
मराठी: बासल
مصرى: بازل
Bahasa Melayu: Basel
монгол: Базель хот
Dorerin Naoero: Basel
日本語: バーゼル
Napulitano: Basilea
нохчийн: Базель
Nordfriisk: Bāsel
norsk: Basel
norsk nynorsk: Basel
occitan: Basilèa
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Bazel
Piemontèis: Basilea
Plattdüütsch: Basel
polski: Bazylea
português: Basileia
română: Basel
rumantsch: Basilea
Runa Simi: Basel
русский: Базель
Scots: Basel
shqip: Bazeli
sicilianu: Basilea
Simple English: Basel
slovenčina: Bazilej
slovenščina: Basel
ślůnski: Basel
کوردی: بازل
српски / srpski: Базел
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Basel
suomi: Basel
svenska: Basel
தமிழ்: பேசெல்
Taqbaylit: Basel
Türkçe: Basel
українська: Базель
vèneto: Baxiłea
Tiếng Việt: Basel
Volapük: Basel
Winaray: Basel
吴语: 白才尔
ייִדיש: באזעל
粵語: 巴塞爾
中文: 巴塞尔