Basel - the third-largest city in Switzerland

Basel, the third-largest city in Switzerland is in the German-speaking part of the country, on the border with France and Germany. Its uniqueness lies in its multiculturalism, which is a common feature of border cities, but most people associate Basel with pharmacy.

Throngs of tourists are attracted by Basel's beautifully preserved architecture, for which it received the Wakker Prize (Wakkerpreis) in 1996 from the Swiss Heritage Society, as well as its reputation as one of Europe’s most culturally rich cities. One of its most interesting institutions is the Museum of Art, famous for having the world’s oldest collection under a state’s patronage. We can't miss the Beyeler Foundation, either - one of the most important museums in Switzerland. Founded by Hilda and Ernest Beyeler, the collection includes 23 works by Picasso, as well as works by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon. It also has a considerable collection of African art. It’s worth going to Museum Tinguely to see its permanent collection of kinetic statues, as well as illustrations, photographs and artefacts connected with the life of Jean Tinguely. One shouldn’t forget Vitra Design - a world-famous private design museum. The exhibition space is actually located in Germany (in Weil am Rhein), but it's possible to get there by tram from Basel. In addition to a design workshop, it holds a huge collection of furniture, with pieces representing every style from the beginning of the 19th century. Because the pharmaceutical and chemical industries are, for many people, Basel’s calling card, one shouldn’t miss the Pharmacy History Museum. In addition to concoctions which bring to mind both the achievements and mistakes in the history of medicine, you’ll see here the first instruments for preparing mixtures and old manuscripts containing knowledge of herbs and their properties.

Art enthusiasts travel to Basel once a year to visit not only the city's 40 museums, but also one of the most important contemporary art fairs in the world - Art Basel. It takes place in June in Messe Basel, and it also has its counterparts in Miami Beach and Hong Kong. The event was inaugurated in 1970 by art dealers Trudi Bruckner, Baltz Hilt and Ernest Beyeler, when 90 galleries were represented and there were about 16,000 visitors at the opening. Currently, over 280 galleries display their art here, representing about 4,000 artists.

The city is also famous for its large number of cosy cinemas, many of which are located on Steinenvorstad Street. Most of the films are screened in original languages with subtitles in both German and French. Music fans will also find something interesting here - the music scene in Basel is very diverse. In the 1930s, Paul Sacher founded the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis here, which developed as a centre for the study and cultivation of early music. In turn, Musical Theatre Basel, with a huge stage that takes up over 900 m2, presents a wide range of international musicals, ballets and dance performances. Kaserne is also a very interesting place - it's the largest contemporary dance, theatre and experimental music centre in north-western Switzerland, famous for its innovative approach and its program that combines avant-garde art with high-class pop music. If we're looking for something less experimental, it's worth dropping by Brasserie Volkshaus, situated between Messe Basel and the riverbank. An interesting fact is that the interior of the restaurant was designed by Herzog & de Meuron - two outstanding Swiss architects. Fans of nightlife should stop by Kuppel, one of the most popular nightclubs, where one can also watch cabaret and comedy shows.

One mustn’t forget about the Ren River, which is a true driving force and the main point on the city’s map. Formerly one of the country’s main trade routes, it had an influence on the economic and transport development of the city. Today it constitutes a charming element of the landscape, making life more pleasant for both tourists and residents. The river is one of the main points of orientation, and its bank is a frequent meeting spot for students, tourists and businessmen who, on sunny days (of which there are many in Basel) spend long hours basking in the sun. Ren is equally famous for the two bathing centres built on its banks, where long promenades built over the water allow people to sunbathe and swim. This is permitted every day during the summer, and once a year official boat races happen here in which anyone can take part, regardless of age. In order to cross the river on a ferry, it’s necessary to do what people have been doing for over 150 years - ring a bell on the pier and board one of four ferries propelled solely by the river’s natural current. If, however, a trip by ferry is not enough, we can take a cruise on one of the boats of the "white fleet" where we can sample delicacies of the local cuisine while admiring the views.

There's a rather mild, sunny climate in this city. Thanks to air from the Mediterranean Sea flowing through the Burgundian Gate, there's snow only 30 days per year and winds are relatively weak. This weather is very favourable for strolls and bike rides. If you plan a weekend excursion to a European city, Basel is one of the most interesting and pleasant options. You can reach it via the international Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport in France, which is currently the only dual-national airport in the world.

Tags: Switzerland