Basel, Switzerland History and Politics

Administrative and cultural institutions

According to internetsailors, the city is a cultural center with a university (founded in 1460, the oldest in Switzerland with one of the most important libraries in the country), the University of Applied Sciences in Northwestern Switzerland, a music academy, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, the Swiss Tropical Institute, the University’s Bio Center and Institute for Immunology and the Swiss Economic Archives.

The botanical garden (founded in 1589) is considered to be the oldest in the German-speaking area. The zoological garden (founded in 1874), natural history, ethnographic, etc. are also important. Museums (e.g. Antique Museum and Ludwig Collection; Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art; Schaulager; Museum Jean Tinguely; Architecture Museum; Historical Museum with Music Museum; Jewish Museum; Museum of Cultures Basel), several theaters and libraries. The Basel Carnival is an important cultural event. The annual »Art Basel« is considered to be the world’s most important art fair.


The Celtic Rauriks settled on the hill between the Rhine and Birsig (probably after 58 BC). A Roman camp post in Basilia is first mentioned in AD 374. Alemannic settlement probably began in the 6th century under the protection of the Franconian Empire, at the end of the 7th century Basel became a bishopric and later took over all functions of the sister settlement Augusta Raurica (Augst). In 912 the city came to Burgundy, was destroyed by the Hungarians in 917/918. Rebuilt under Emperor Heinrich II, Basel has belonged to the – later Holy Roman – Empire since 1006 (incorporated in 1032).

The city, which flourished under the secular rule of the bishops (from 999/1000 to around 1362, finally replaced in 1521/85), expanded rapidly (first Rhine bridge at the beginning of the 13th century), but in 1356 experienced a severe earthquake and a devastating conflagration that was triggered by it. The pledging of the “Klein-Basel” (founded after 1220) on the right bank of the Rhine to the Dukes of Austria was replaced by the council in 1386 and acquired the area in 1392. Between 1400 and 1540 the city also acquired a rural subject area in the Basel area (” Landscape «), the Birseck remained under the rule of the prince-bishop. In the struggle between the bishop and the citizenry around 1450, the guilds that have ruled the city since then were victorious.

In the Middle Ages, linen weaving was predominant, later cotton and wool weaving. Free imperial city since the 14th century, Basel experienced its heyday and heyday in the 15th and 16th. Century, whose character the city center still shows today. The Basel Council met in Basel from 1431–49; The university was founded in 1460. Paper was manufactured in Basel since 1440, and letterpress printing was introduced in 1462.

Threatened by the Habsburgs, the imperial city and its subject area approached the confederates; So she took part in the battle of Sankt Jakob an der Birs against the Armagnaks (1444; since 1822 Sankt-Jakobs-Fest, today only celebrated every five years), as well as in the Burgundian Wars (1474-77; member of the »Lower Association«)). After the Swabian War, which was ended by the Peace of Basel in 1499, she joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501. According to the Federal Letter, Basel was obliged to arbitrate disputes between the Eight Old Places as a neutral place.

Around 1500 Basel gained European importance through book printing (J. Froben, J. Amerbach; until around 1560) and attracted important humanists (Erasmus von Rotterdam) and artists (H. Holbein the Younger); S. Münster came to Basel in 1529. According to the under Oekolampad In 1528/29 the Reformation, which was enforced in the city and in the subject area, was expelled from the city; In the second half of the 16th century, many Protestant religious refugees from France (Huguenots), Italy and the Netherlands found acceptance in Basel. The silk ribbon industry was introduced by Huguenots around 1670, which remained important as the most important export branch until the 19th century; In 1758, silk dyeing resulted in color production. In addition to the Basel mathematicians (the Bernoulli family, L. Euler), I. Iselin represented the ideas of the Enlightenment in the 18th century; printing took on a new meaning. The peace treaties of Basel in 1795 ended the war between France, Prussia and Spain (Basel Peace of April 5, 1795, Basel Peace of July 22, 1795).

The last third of the 19th century was marked by a new cultural flowering (J. Burckhardt, F. Nietzsche, J. J. Bachofen). The 1st World Zionist Congress (Zionism) took place in Basel in 1897. The 20th century was characterized by the economic upswing in the city (city expansion, industrial plants, Rhine port, sample fair, airport) and the Basel area.

In 1803, the canton of Basel emerged from the former urban subject area and part of the secularized diocese of Basel (Arlesheim district), which was divided into the two cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft in 1832/33 (called half-cantons until 1999).

Basel, Switzerland History