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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

The ferry has no motor!

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

We can take a direct train from Interlaken West to Basel. We have stops but we don't have to change trains.

We can also take a ferry from one side of the Rhine to the other. And...the ferry has no motor! We may have to head back if a large boat quickly comes around the bend., though.

The temperature in Basel was around 72 degrees. The humidity was high but there was a breeze from time to time. We had about three minutes of very light sprinkles. We were surprised as the forecast predicted rain for most of the day.

We met Lisa and her husband Tobias at the Rathaus in Basel. Many years ago, Lisa was an au pair for our friend’s children.

They traveled two and a half hours to come see us.

"The town hall is a prestigious building. The building, which is located directly on Basel's market square, stands out due to its red sandstone and striking tower. The political center of Basel was established in the same place in 1290, which it still represents in its institutional form to this day.

The so-called Richthaus was destroyed by the Basel earthquake in 1356. All files and documents were lost. The so-called "Palace of the Lords" was built as a replacement. In 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation. The Grand Council, which spared no expense at the time, decided in 1503 to build a new building with a connection to the “Palace of the Lords”. The construction work ran from 1504 to 1514. During this time, the coats of arms of the places ( cantons ) were created on the battlements. The original "Palace of the Lords", which has been in the background since then, was expanded between 1517 and 1521 and the then Grand Council Chamber was furnished.

Hans Holbeing the Younger was commissioned to paint this hall in 1521 and Hans Bock the Elder to restore it. In 1608/1609 Bock also created the painting Josaphat admonishes the judges and Herod of Hyrcanus on the side walls under the arcades of the inner courtyard and the Last Judgment above the stairs on the right. In addition, until 1611 he painted the Basel coat of arms on the facade , depictions of goddesses of victory with palm branches and a children's parade.

The remains of the palace built after the Basel earthquake are the oldest parts of the town hall, followed by the late Gothic central building with the three arched entrances and the golden turret from 1507. The clock was created by Master Wilhelm in 1511.

Between 1606 and 1608, the “Vordere Kanzlei ” to the north was built. In order to make the building as uniform as possible, it was decided to use a pseudo-architecture : although the late Gothic era was over, elements from this era were used.

The iron bars in front of the entrance hall date from 1611, the bronze plaque from 1537 on the right pillar reminds of the earlier floods of he Birsig, which now flows underground .

In connection with the redesign of the market square, the growth of the city and the new cantonal constitution the tower on the right and the wing with the bay window on the left were added from 1898 to 1904 . Conversions followed in the style of and neo-Gothic and neo-renaissance. The previous Grossratssaal was demolished at the same time and replaced by a new hall with side rooms between 1901 and 1904.

The painting on the tower was created in 1901 by Wilhelm Balmer, it shows the standard bearer Hans Bär, who died in the Battle of Marignano in September 1515. The facade facing the market square contains reliefs of child warriors on the left and of angels of victory, which adorn the Basel shields with laurels above the arcade arches as well as a Justitia at the level of the front council chamber, which is attached to the judicial function of the small council, as the executive was formerly called. remind. Another restoration of the town hall was completed in 1982.

Nowadays, the Basel Town Hall is mainly used as a meeting place for the Grand Council (legislature ) and the government council ( executive ). The town hall also houses offices of the state chancellery, the parliamentary service and parts of the presidential department. The front council chamber, today the council chamber, is furnished with late Gothic paneling and a splendid renaissance door court by Franz Pergo.

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, the 500th anniversary of the completion of the oldest part of the town hall was celebrated with a folk festival.

We had lunch at the Restaurant Gifthüttli on Schneidergasse 11. It is known for its different cordon bleus.

"One hundred twenty years ago, pubs served wine only. The beer trade was firmly in the hands of house breweries and their restaurants. So when Innocenz Weiss dared to be the first to serve beer in his pub 'zum Ritter St. Georg', he soon became the town's main talk. Even the local paper "Basler Nachrichten" decided to comment on it with an article that claimed"... to drink beer elsewhere than at the brewery is like drinking poison (Gift)"

Proud to serve beer now, Innocenz Weiss took it not only with humor but also re-named his pub to Gifthüttli.

In 1913," his great-nephew Paul Weiss-Lipp decided to build across the street, he instructed the architect Rudolf Sandreuter to do so in a traditional old-swiss style. The newly built restaurant was then given the well established name Gifthüttli and the original place was sold to the town for 48 000 Franken.

Paul Weiss-Lipp died in 1980 from influenza. His wife, Frieda Weiss-Lipp kept the restaurant going for some time, but eventually sold it to the brewery "zum Warteck" in 1928. Since then, the brewery manages the building and leases the Gifthüttli.

From 1990 - 2010 the place was leased and run by a family named Braun. The Gifthüttli is still very well known today and famous for the juicy cordon bleus. The menu, available in Basel-German, German, French and English, accommodates an international clientele. Some of our customers make reservations as early as a year in advance to be sure a table awaits them during their next visit - something that fills us with pride and gratitude. "

Lisa had the Schweiz: filled with Bündner ham and raclette cheese, in bread crumbs while Tobias had the Gifthüttl: filled with chorizo, mozzarella and herbs -piquant, in bread crumbs. They both had French fries as a side.

Michael and I each had the Florentiner: We had the veal filled with spinach, ham and cheese, with a fried egg on top. We shared the Spätzle. Tasty! Delicious!

After lunch, we gave Lisa and Tobias the quick tour of a small section of the Old Town. Basel has some wonderful walking tours around the city. You only have to follow the specific colored signs.

The market place in front of the Rathaus

I love fresh mushrooms!!!!!!!!

That is one word.

Christmas tree decorations exhibition specialty shop

We followed the blue route which took us through the section of town where professional and artisans once lived.

Such unique door knockers. I almost expected Dickens ghost of Marley to appear!

Place to wash your clothes or to get water.

Look up or you will miss many things.

The Spalentor (Gate of Spalen) is the most magnificent and impressive of the three city gates still remaining from the city fortifications dating from 1400.

"In times gone by, many important supplies and provisions entered the city through this gate having arrived from Alsace. Its square main tower, flanked on each side by two round towers, would have been seen long before arriving at the gates of the city. The façade facing away from the city is also decorated with three figures dating back to the 15th century - the Madonna and two prophets."

Basel is a city on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the country’s borders with France and Germany. Its medieval old town centers around Marktplatz, dominated by the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall.

In summer, the Kleinbasel banks of the Rhine are the place to be! You can put your clothes in a "Wickelfisch" swim bag and simply float down on the gentle current through the picturesque Old Town.

Basel is considered the cultural capital of Switzerland. With nearly forty museums across the canton and a wide range of cultural activities, Basel is famous for its numerous world-class art and cultural institutions, which makes the city one of the largest cultural centers in Europe in relation to its size and population. The municipal art museum exhibits what is generally considered to be the most important public art collection in Switzerland. With the "Amerbach-Kabinett" acquired by the city in 1661, the collection is considered to be the oldest publicly accessible art museum in the world.

The University of Basel , founded in 1460, is the oldest in Switzerland and one of the oldest in Europe. Erasmus von Rotterdam, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Leonhard Euler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jaspers, the Nobel laureate Tadeus Reichstein and the philosopher Jeanne Hersch taught and researched at it.

“The first Zionist World Congress also took place in Basel in 1897, under the leadership of Theodor Herzl. Overall, the congress took place until the founding of the state of Israel. It took place ten times in the city on the knee of the Rhine in 1948, more than in any other city in the world.”

Back before our calendar began, Basel had already been occupied by the Celts. In 30 B.C. the city's strategically favorable position led the Romans to station its military forces on the hill now occupied by the cathedral.

One key event in the development of the city was the founding of the University in the year 1460. Many of Europe's greatest minds came to Basel, which became a veritable center of humanism and book printing.

The Reformation witnessed the growth of the silk weaving and dyeing industries which in turn gave rise to today's pharmaceutical and chemical companies. The once fortified settlement is today a financial and commercial hub and a celebrated city of culture.

Basel is a world-leading center for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry , a world-famous exhibition center and an important location as a banking center. The two pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche as well as the Bank for International Settlements have their global headquarters in Basel.

Basel can look back on over 2000 years of history. There has been a settlement here since Celtic times – and for good reason. Its geographic location between Vosges, the Black Forest and the Jura Mountains gives the city an exceptional amount of sunshine and one of the warmest climates in Switzerland.

The city in the far north-west of Switzerland lies on both sides of the Rhine. In addition to parts of the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zürich, Kleinbasel, along with the northern part of the canton of Basel-Stadt, is one of the only areas in Switzerland to the right of the Upper Rhine.

In the urban area of ​​Basel - at the bend in the Rhine between the Swiss Jura and the foothills of the Black Forest - the river changes its direction from east-west to south-north. The Rhine section ends Hochrhein and starts the Upper Rhine. Shortly before this point, the Birs flows into the Upper Rhine on the higher southern bank of the Rhine, which forms the border with the canton of Basel-Landschaft; the St Alban-Teich canal, which is derived from the Birs, also flows into the Rhine from the south. Immediately under the Middle Bridge is the mouth of the Birsig, which is the first tributary of the Upper Rhine. Large industrial areas extend on the flatter northern bank, from which the Meadow flows into the Upper Rhine.

The Rhine, which characterizes the city, is considered to be an international body of water from its confluence to Basel's old town (historic Middle Rhine Bridge) . Switzerland received these traffic rights in 1868 through the Mannheim Act.

Thanks to its location, Basel soon became a hub of important traffic routes and thus an important trading center. The city is therefore one of the most densely populated areas in Europe but with a large area it has 320 hectares of green space and 71 hectares of forest.

The market square is dominated by the impressive City Hall, the seat of government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt. During the week and even today, the market on the square sells fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers.

When one enters this impressive piazza, the first thing that catches the eye is the colorful Town Hall (Rathaus). However, this piazza still plays a key role in the lives of Basel's inhabitants today. The market that takes place here every day of the week is a welcome addition to the grocer's and greengrocer's shops elsewhere in the city center. Lovers of good food can find delicious local produce on the market stalls, as well as many specialties from the region, Switzerland and the entire world.

The Basler Münster (Cathedral) is probably the most famous landmark in Basel. With its red sandstone walls, colorful roof tiles and twin towers, no other building adorns the cityscape of Basel like the Cathedral.

In past times, wedding announcements were displayed under the roof.

The former episcopal church, built between the years 1019 and 1500, is in the Romantic and Gothic styles. The crypt, the chancel, the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Gallus gate and the two cloisters are witness to a fascinating tale of construction over a period of several centuries. The piazza in which the Cathedral stands is today a popular meeting place and is often used for concerts and events. The Pfalz - the terrace offering wonderful views over the Rhine - is one of the most popular viewpoints.

Notice the star of David. Jesus was King of the Jews.

Look whom Tobias met along the way.

The most unique form of transportation is the Basel Rhine ferry.

What would Basel be without the Rhine? Four passenger ferries cross the river from one bank to the other, using nothing but a steel cable and the current of the water. The ferrymen’s tradition of telling yarns during the journey has continued to this day.

The four ferries “Wilde Maa”, “Leu”, “Vogel Gryff” and “Ueli” operate between the five Rhine bridges in Basel, connecting Grossbasel with Kleinbasel. These public transport options let you cross the Rhine without an engine, using only the force of the river’s current. The Rhine ferries are not only a contemplative pleasure for tourists, but also a pleasant and convenient means of transport for locals and commuters.