The Mittlere Brücke might look straight from the middle ages, but it's a reconstruction. The original was knocked down in order to build another wide enough to carry trams and traffic, but has retained much of its original charm. It's arguably the most pleasant bridge across the Rhine and offers nice views of the old town above the river.
After the old theater building was demolished, its site was made into a square by the name of Theaterplatz and the artist Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) was commissioned to create an elaborate fountain called the Carnival Fountain (Fasnachts-Brunnen), which he did in his own inimitable way by building ten machine sculptures with lots of moving parts, some of which were salvaged from the stage machinery of the old theater before it was torn down.
The fountain was paid for by the Migros cooperative, a unique Swiss institution which at the time was celebrating its 50th anniversary. To me as a Fremdländischer i.e. non-Swiss person the Migros organization has always seemed rather mysterious, but about two million Swiss people are members of it, that's roughly 28 % of the population.
1. Jean Tinguely's Carnival Fountain
2. One of the ten machine sculptures in the Carnival Fountain
3. Another view of the Carnival Fountain
4. More of Tinguely's machine sculptures
Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) was an artist who grew up in Basel and later belonged to the Parisian avant-garde in the 1950s and 60s. He is well known in Basel for his machine sculptures in the square in front of the city theater.
The Museum Tinguely, on the right bank of the Rhine River, was designed by the architect Mario Botta and inaugurated in 1996. The artist Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely’s widow, donated over fifty of her husband's machine sculptures and a considerable number of drawings and documents from his estate. The museum is owned and financed by a prominent pharmaceutical company.
According to the museum's website, this museum "is unlike others: here, things rattle, squeak, crash and thump. Colourful scrap rotates, multi-coloured lights flicker."
Opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11 am to 7 pm, closed Mondays. Admission is 15 Swiss Francs for adults or 10 for those who get a reduction (including us elderly folks, by the way).
1. Museum Tinguely
2. Park by the Tinguely Museum
3. Museum Tinguely from across the Rhine River
This bridge has the distinction of being the oldest documented bridge (1226) over the Rhine between Lake Constanze and the North Sea still in use today. The present structure however dates from 1905, replacing a century-old wooden structure. The bridge connects the two main parts of Basel, Grossbasel and Kleinbasel, with the latter one beginning its life as a protective fortress for the bridge.
Jonathan Borofsky's project involved large sculptures of working people placed in cities all over the world. They all differ in heights, but are usually several metres tall. Basel was given one of them so that we see a worker hammering on the building at a place close to the central train station. It has a height of around 13 metres. This one has even a moving function which means that he is actually hammering, but not touching the building. Close to this one, there are also two smaller ones resembling him.
Basel is blessed with an interesting collection of fountains all over the city, with the Tinguely fountain probably being the most famous. There are many more of them on little squares or in side streets. One with a quite prominent location, just in front of the minster, there is the Pisoni fountain from 1784. Paolo Antoni Pisoni designed it in the baroque style of its time. When it was refurbished in 1937, a small bassin was added to serve as a watering place for dogs and other animals.
St. Alban Gate is quite isolated from the rest of the city, located in a small park. The gate was built in the 13th century and has most of its medeival structure preserved, including the wooden doors. St. Alban Gate has a height of 32 metres. Together with Spalentor and St. Johann Gate, it is one of only three remaining city gates in Basel. Close to St. Alban Gate, you will find the only preserved stretch of the medieval city wall.
We happened to park our car at the "Basel Badischer Bahnhof" (Basel Baden Railway Station), and regardless if you drive or take the train to Basel - the Basel Badischer Bahnhof is a must-see! You might be used to different embassies being extraterritorial, however, Basel even boasts a railway station that's entirely located in Switzerland yet is a genuine German railway station belonging to German territory. Not many cities have the pleasure to feature such an odditiy.
So what had happened? In March 1838 the Grand Duchy of Baden (one of the predecessor countries that make up modern Germany) started a railway line from Mannheim way down south to the Swiss border. The Swiss were interested in having this railway line continued into their territory, to the city of Basel. And since the Grand Duchy of Baden and the Swiss Confederation had always been great friends, they decided, in July 1852, to set up a mutual treaty to continue the Baden "Rheintalbahn" (Rhine Valley Railway Line) into Switzerland. Unfortunately, the great friends couldn't agree on the design of the railway station in Basel, so the Grand Duchy of Baden lost patience and built their own railway station. The Swiss figured: hey, we can do that, too and promptly constructed the "Basel Schweizer Bahnhof" (Basel Swiss Railway Station). The treaty is still in effect today (although the Grand Duchy of Baden is now the German state of Baden-Württemberg) and that's why things still are (more or less) the way they've always been. And I do appreciate things that are lasting and reliable! The Badischer Bahnhof is exclusively operated by the German railway company with railway schedules for trains in Germany. In the railway station's stores you pay with Euros, but they're kind enough to accept Swiss Francs (as they do vice versa with Euros in Basel). Also, in that railway station you can find ATMs for Euros and Swiss Francs, and as a special treat for Germany's Swiss friends they put up a Swiss mailbox and a machine for Swiss stamps. Before Switzerland joined the Schengen Treaty (and I remember my train trips to Italy back then), you first had to go through customs at the Basel Badischer Bahnhof and then once again a few minutes later at the Basel Schweizer Bahnhof.
We parked in the parking structure to the right of the Badischer Bahnhof (which is Swiss territory) and there what I had known all along was one more time confirmed to me: the Swiss are honest, well-organized and reliable people. The machines in the parking structure also accept Euros (of course), but only 10 Euro bills and higher. We didn't notice that right away and put in a 5 Euro bill, which was promptly returned to us and, as an apology, together with 2 Swiss Franc coins. Where on earth can you find such kind and honest machines? In Switzerland and in Switzerland only - and nowhere else on this planet! Lucky us that the parking structure was not part of the Basel Badischer Bahnhof and German territory, since in that case it would not even have returned our 5 Euro bill, let alone given us 2 Euro coins as an apology ;-)
After a river crossing by boat a walk along the banks of the Rhine. A warm afternoon and soon attracted into one of the cafes along the way. A lovely place to spend an hour people watching with a beer!
Maybe even spot some intrepid bathers too, braver than me.
Museum for the Swiss artist and sculptor. A Saturday visit for us and overrun by noisy school kids so sadly did not go in, enjoyed the "Heath - Robinson" fountains outside and in the city too, really must revisit one day!
This museum for contemporary art is a MUST SEE! Personally I think it is more important than the whole Holbein exposition - although it contains some fine drawings. The building is amazing and the things on display are almost all briljant.
I genuinly liked the A-Z (Andrea Zitter) pieces. They're a combination of modesty, simplicity, plain every day activity and briljant observation: making something that is close to you can make great art. It somehow reminds me of Bauhaus, but without the fuss.
Basels Museums (and especially the Antikenmuseum) are always trying to get special exhibitions also from other countries.
We have had special Exhibitions about Tibet, Dinosaurs, the Romans etc.
Now the newest one is from Egypt.
Tut Ench Amun und das Goldene Jenseits
(Tutenchamun and the golden life after death).
It is a really impressive Exhibition. By now it is not easy to get tickets. Guided group tours are all booked out.
If you want to get tickets, take your credit card with you. Better is it to book ahead via the net (see link below)
The whole Basel seems to be in Egypt fever - Pharaos wherever you look.
The picture ... ah see yourself
(thanks to Tea for giving me the picture).
Brueglingen is one of the two botanical gardens in Basel.
Actually this one is located a little outside, behind the St. Jakob Stadion and garden bath.
In the Park right next to it ,they had a big exhibition in 1980, and the name kinda stuck, so today the area is called "Gruen 80" (green 80).
The park with its big lake and smaller creeks and lot of green areas is a recreation place for the Basler.
You can have a stroll through this green surrounding or lie at the lake go biking or with the inline skates.
Do not be astounded if you happen about a bigger Dinosaur in the park, that is a relict from the exhibition.
On the picture they had an exhibition from a Dadaism-artist (actually she was the girlfriend of Tinguely, so its no wonder this moved and turned, too, like the Tinguely fountain...)
UPDATE: Right now (summer 2005) they have an exhibition of Dinosaurs with many sculptures scattered all over the park.
I doubt this museum gets the number of visitors that it deserves. Thousands pass by on the way to Fondation Beyeler and ignore this excellent museum which is located right in the heart of Riehen in the manor of former famous Basel mayor Wettstein from the 17th century. The interior of the house(s) alone is worth the visit. Beautiful wooden panels on the walls and ceilings, some furniture and fancy ovens, the impressive wine cellar etc.
But the toy museums is - wow! They do have one of the most important collections of European toys from several centuries. What particularly fascinated me was to see plenty of wooden toys from past centuries manufactured in my home region, the Saxon Erzgebirge. But there are also other pieces, like toy carousels from Paris, dolls and large rocking horses. Heaven for kids - and the best is, they also have corners/rooms where the kids can actually play with toys. So this is definitely a place for families to go.
The museum on the village's history was also interesting. Smaller, but it covered the history over the centuries in detail, focusing on the golden era when the manors of the Basel Patricians were built and the more recent history like WWII.
The viticulture museum is quite small but located in the impressive wine cellar. It was amazing to see so few vineyards survived.
Open Wed-Mon 11-17 h
Admission fee: 7 Sfr. / Kids up to 16 free
Tram #6, stop Riehen Dorf
The Music Museum in Basel is relatively new, it opened in 2000. The exhibit presents about 650 musical instruments from several centuries. Honestly, the instruments themselves were not *that* exciting. I much more liked that they had touch-screens where you could get information but also select examples for music that is made with those actual instruments on display. Quite some famous pieces among the examples!
Also, the building is interesting. The so called Lohnhof is a complex that goes back to a former Augustine monastery. Quite a few buildings are preserved, like the St. Leonhardt church, the toilet tower (really!) and some others, most of it was replaced by newer buildings, though, because from 1821 on the complex was used for police and prison. In 1995 the prison was relocated and the whole area reconstructed. Now it is home for the museum, but you also find a hotel, restaurant and apartments here. One prison cell is originally preserved and you can see it during the museum tour.
Wed-Sat 14-18 h
Sun 11-17 h
Admission fee: 7 Sfr.
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