Basel: a little Swiss city that successfully blends old world charm with the most contemporary of architecture. It is here that Switzerland merges with Germany and France, thus making Basel an ideal point to explore all three countries.
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, it is the warmest place in Switzerland. It is pleasant during winter, but at times uncomfortably hot in summers. However, from mid-May till the end of June, and from mid-August to the end of October are good periods to visit. April and May are often wet. A white Christmas is rare and winter is generally short – from January to the beginning of March.
There is a lot to do and a lot to see in Basel with great tourist infrastructure. In terms of buildings, you will see modern architecture standing peacefully among centuries old construction. There is a lot to do when it comes to art and culture and the city is an absolute gourmet’s delight.
Living With Art
Der Teufelhof Basel is a unique guest and cultural centre. In the heart of the old town, the hotel is spread over two historic 18th-century buildings. The Art Hotel is an exceptional concept lodged within Der Teufelhof. It has eight rooms and one suite, all of which are living works of art.
The experience this offers is very different when compared to merely viewing art. The rooms are redesigned by artists at regular intervals and are as diverse as the artists themselves. Each one is a dip into a curated arty environment! The expansive installations in the room provide a sure shot way to experience art, albeit in a new context.
A Dive Into History
The Basel Minster or Basler Münster is witness to the passing of centuries. Undoubtedly, it is the most visited site of the city. The church was built between the years 1019 and 1500 in Romanesque and Gothic styles. It stands magnificently in red sandstone. The coloured roof tiles, its two slim towers and the cross-shaped intersection of the main roof define the monument as the onlooker gazes at it from the piazza, where it stands. The piazza itself is a popular meeting place and transforms into a public site for cultural concerts and events.
A tour of the historic landmark takes one through many architectural gems hosted here – the crypt, the chancel, the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Gallus gate and the two cloisters to name a few. It was originally built as a catholic cathedral, and is now a reformed Protestant Church. It is listed as a heritage site of national significance in Switzerland.
A Veritable Trio
Parterre One, a ‘trio’ of a bar, restaurant and concert venue is now architecturally unified thanks to a modern edgy building designed by Focketyn Del Rio Studio. The building is in a heritage ensemble within Kaserne Basel. The gates are a nod to the old avatar of the area as a military barrack, as much as the design is a pointer to its current status as a cultural hub.
A neglected patio has now become a cosy sitting area. It continues into the smoking lounge which has a winter-garden roof that can be opened when the weather is good. The venue has very high acoustical standards and is a preferred location for concerts. There were design elements that had to be considered such as the careful insertion of absorption values in the curtains, vertical elements and the projected cellulose in the ceiling, for the enhancement of the acoustics. The cellulose in the ceiling actually creates a new shape that plays with the gallery!
The use of metal, concrete and wood and their interactions with different geometrical shapes makes the entire design mélange very unique and interesting!
Where The City Converges
The city square plays a vital role in the lives of the residents. It also hosts the city market and one of the most conspicuous buildings of the city – the town hall. This 500-year-old structure is made from red sandstone and has frescoes and artwork on its walls.
No less colourful is the market outside which offers an abundance of delicacies and specialties. Together, they present a vibrant image of Basel.
A visit to Basel will allow you to experience a variety of architectural gems. Dive into the merry confluence of the old and the new in this charming locale!
Text By Dhanishta Shah