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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Basel, Switzerland

Originally settled by the Romans, Basel has always been a vibrant centre of commerce, culture and carnival. This city on the Rhine’s proximity to France and Germany has enabled it to draw on the best aspects of both. The river divides the city into Kleinbasel on the North bank and Grossbasel on the south. Head to the North Bank for the cathedral and the old town and to the South bank for subcultural adventure. The University is the oldest in Switzerland and still donates an atmosphere of youthful imagination and innovation to the city.
The old town combines medieval, gothic and renaissance buildings, and the cathedral features a combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles. The fountains of Basel are another glory of the city - from the high Gothic fountain in Fischmarkt to the post-modern loopiness of Jean Tinguely’s fountain on Theaterplatz. The Museum of Fine Arts is superb, with many Picassos and Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais. According to some, the Paper Mill in Basel is the best museum in Europe. Judge for yourself! Otherwise, make your way to the Roman ruins at Kaiseraugst, only 15 minutes away by bus and check out the open-air theatre, temples and Roman Museum.