Sandra Scott Travels: One City, Three Countries

The Renaissance influence

Last week I asked: What three countries meet in Basel, Switzerland?

Switzerland, France, and Germany.

The Dreiländereck

Basel is a city on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the country’s borders with France and Germany.

The Dreiländereck is a monument in Basel, Switzerland, that marks where the three countries meet.

I loved Basel.

It was so calm and quiet…no noisy motor bikes or other annoying vehicles.

I also noticed in restaurants everyone talked softly except Americans.

I didn’t realize how loud we talk.

I lucked out on my choice of hotel – the Der Teufelhof Basel.

the Der Teufelhof Basel.

The hotel complex consists of a hotel, theatre, Atelier Restaurant, Bel Etage restaurant, brewery, bar and a coffee lounge as well as a wine cellar that is in the archeological part where parts of the old city wall can be seen.

While the city wall is no more there are still a couple city gates standing.

It lies in the heart of Basel’s Old Town; in two knocked-together historical townhouses from the 18th century.

city gates

Included in the price was Basel Card which allowed me to ride free on public transit and discounts on other touristic things.

Using my Basel Card I took the tram which stopped in front of the hotel one stop to the city center where I went to the tourist office and book a bus tour at a reduced rate.

Each seat had a table showing what the guide was talking about.

Tinguely Fountain

From there I walked uphill for a short ways to the Tinguely Fountain installed by Jean Tinguely who is famous for his sculptural machines or kinetic art.

There is also a museum in his name.

I didn’t know that Anne Frank’s father moved to Switzerland after the war because he found it too painful to stay in Amsterdam.

He had cousins there and it is where he read Anne’s diary and had it published.

The Renaissance influence

The city was also home to Erasmus, the 16th-century philosopher and Christian humanist who is widely considered to have been the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance.

The Renaissance influence is visible in many of the buildings.

Its medieval old town centers around Marktplatz, dominated by the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall.

Its 12th-century Gothic cathedral has city views, and contains the tomb of Erasmus.

The city claims to be the home of a real Indiana Jones.

Johann Burckhardt was a Swiss traveler, geographer and orientalist.

He is best known for rediscovering the ruins of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

The home of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt

Petra is an incredibly amazing place.

From the top it is impossible to see the entrance to Petra.

We walked through the narrow rocky passage with high walls called a Siq.

Nothing compares to the first view of magnificent, 2,000-year-old Treasury building made familiar in the Indiana Jones movie.

The whole area is incredible.

Today Basel in known for manufacturing chemical and pharmaceuticals and, of course, watches.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Watchmaking only began in Switzerland after the Huguenot refugees brought the manufacture of portable timepieces to Switzerland in the second half of the 16th century.

Ferry boat

At that time, Calvinism was very popular.

One of the main driving forces behind the country’s economic prosperity was the goldsmiths.

Under the strict rule of Calvin, who rejected any display of wealth, the wearing of jewelry was banned thus forcing these craftsmen to find new outlets for their creative talents – and so they discovered watchmaking.

I love all the back stories I hear on bus tours.

The bus stopped at the Rhine River and passengers could take a ferry across and be picked up on the other side.

The ferries crosses without motorized assistance, using only the natural power of the river’s current.


Travel Trivia Tease™: Where is Catalonia?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!