A fun New Year’s resolution Mike and I made earlier this month was to really take advantage of living in Switzerland and explore something/ somewhere new at least twice a month. Although this doesn’t seem like a difficult resolution, the cold winter weather makes it easy to hibernate until spring!
Imagine my surprise when we woke up on Saturday morning and saw sunshine streaming through our windows. in the middle of January. The weather forecast had predicted snow so this was a pleasant surprise. We decided to venture out and explore.
An easy 50-minute train ride took us to Switzerland’s third most populous city, Basel. Located in northwest Switzerland on the Rhine river, Basel is a cultural center with many museums with a population of ~170,000. The city’s location is unique in that it lies on the border of three countries: Switzerland, Germany and France. In fact, Basel has suburbs in the other two neighboring countries and the tri-national area together has more than 800,000 people.
Sites to see in Basel:
- From the Basel train station, we strolled down to the Marktplatz, the main market square. With a farmer’s market in full swing, the town was busy on this sunny Saturday afternoon. Folks were out and about, eating bratwurst, shopping, meeting with friends and lining up for heisse maroni (hot chestnuts – a tasty roasted treat available during the winter months).
- At the center of the Marktplatz is the Rathaus or city hall. This beautiful 500-year old building houses the Cantonal Parliament and the city council. With its bright hues and imposing stature, the Rathaus is difficult to miss.
- Further up and just along the Rhine River is the Basel Münster, the Basel Cathedral. This impressive building is one of the main landmarks of the city and was first built in the 13th century! Made of red sandstone and a patterned roof, it was destroyed in an earthquake in the 14th century but rebuilt soon thereafter. We noticed that even the sundial on the building was accurate! I guess the love of clocks goes pretty far back for the Swiss 🙂 The highlight was climbing up the many flights of narrow steps to the top, and enjoying a breathtaking view of the city.
Our afternoon ends as it should in Europe, with some window shopping followed by a cup of delightful cappuccino at an outdoor cafe.The best thing now? Just another 50 minute train ride back home!