Basel is a city that’s very rich in cultural attractions, so much so that there are very few European cities that can keep up with it. Basel is Switzerland’s second largest city and boasts more than one museum per square kilometer, exceeding a total of 40 museums within the city. The best part of these museums is that most of them are housed in buildings that can be seen of works of art. Basel has two parts that are connected to each other via 6 bridges over the Rhine, and it’s on the left bank that you’ll want to get to for the old town and cultural attractions.
Top Attractions in Basel
The Old Town
Located between the river and the old city gate at Spalentor is small, but its ever so atmospheric with its stone streets, medieval churches, beautifully preserved old houses and captivating fountains.
As the old town’s focus, Marktplatz is where you’ll go to experience the colorful daily market with its great food and specialties. The bright red Basel Rathaus practically dominates the square, and it’s a sight worth seeing for its arcaded main buildings and the 1511 clock. The beautiful courtyard is very inviting with its wall paintings dating back to 1608.
The fortified gate called Spalentor dates back to 1370 and marks the end of the Old Town. The town gate was once part of the old town walls but has stood here on its own since 1866. Adjacent to the gate you’ll find St. Peter’s Church that was rebuilt during the 15th century.
Basel’s Zoologischer Garten is a massive zoo that the locals affectionately refer to as the Zolli. Although it was founded with 510 European animals in 1874, the zoo is best known for the exotic species that it houses today. The zoo is home to all kinds of creatures ranging from tiny sea horses to massive elephants. Among its highlights are the lion and monkey enclosures, the penguins in the vivarium and the aviary houses with their indigenous and exotic bird species.
The Church of St. Theodore is located near the Wettstein Bridge across the Rhine and dates back to the 14th century. It’s famous for its sandstone baptismal font that dates back to 1500, its 16th century choir and the old choir halls. You’ll find the Carthusian Monastery located between the square and the river that’s also a memorable sight.