A new destination in my portfolio! From now on Basel is on the list of places that I can/will paint for you.
While working in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) for two weeks – Titisee and Freiburg – I had the opportunity to make a detour to Basel!
Basel is Switzerland’s third largest city and it’s located on the river Rhine (Rhine kilometer 167, whereas my home is at Rhine kilometer 703).
As you may have noticed, I really LOVE the Rhine! <3 So I was very happy to explore a new (for me) city that’s shaped and influenced by this river.
Because of some Deutsche Bahn chaos, I started my tour not at the central railway station, but on the other side of the Rhine, and on my way to the Altstadt (old town) I passed the exhibition centre with its modern architecture:
This is Messehalle 1, the so called City Lounge. It spans the passageway to the fairground and has a 30 meter wide circular light opening in the middle.
Then I headed towards the Rhine.
I met “Helvetia auf Reisen”:
“One day Helvetia […] undertakes a longer journey. On the way she also comes to Basel. After a strenuous walk through the city, she puts down her sign, spear and suitcase, puts her coat over the balustrade and rests and looks thoughtfully down the Rhine.” (1980, by Bettina Eichin)
I crossed the river on the Mittlere Brücke (middle bridge) which opened in 1226 and is one of the oldest Rhine crossings between Lake Constance and the North Sea. Then I immediately turned left into Rheinsprung to see the old garden of the University of Basel.
The small garden extends over several “floors” and is absolutely lovely and very quiet. It offers a great view over the Rhine and the Mittlere Brücke.
Around the corner is the Martinskirchplatz, also rather quiet, with a fountain and some pretty details (but you can find pretty details all over the city!)
I followed the Rheinsprung and the Augustinergasse, past the Natural History Museum and the Museum der Kulturen, and then visited the Baseler Münster (cathedral).
The towers are called “Martin” and “George”. Below them I found statues of those saints.
I went inside the cathedral and explored a bit, looking at many of the gravestones and even descending to the crypt – I did not find the burial site of Erasmus, however, and if I’d had more time I would have searched a bit longer.
The quiet and calming cloister of the cathedral:
There’s a viewing platform at the Pfalz, behind the cathedral. The trees offered some shade, and I looked at a model of the Münster as well as fantastic views over the Rhine and the old town.
I turned around a bit and went along the Freie Straße (which runs parallel to Rheinsprung and features some of the more luxurious stores like LV) to the Marktplatz (market square) and the Rathaus (town hall) next. I had read about its impressive red colours, but I was still absolutely fascinated and amazed!
The town hall’s amazing courtyard:
On my way to one of the city gates, I discovered some interesting and/or cute sights:
Spalenberg is lovely! You can find Johann Wanner’s Christmas House here, right next to the Cupcake Affair, and Drei-Käse-Hoch which is a baby supply store – you will not find any of the usual brands here.
The Spalentor is one of the three remaining city gates from the city fortifications from 1400.
I didn’t have enough time for the Tinguely Museum, so I wanted to look at the Tinguely Fountain at least.
I wanted to see some streets off the beaten track, so I followed the Spalenvorstadt, then the Leonhardsgraben, the Kohlenberg, and the Steinenberg. I have to tell you: I could live in this city! 🙂
Jean Tinguely created those moving sculptures / machines in 1977 and gifted the work to the city of Basel.
(Elisabethen Church in the background, which is an “open church”)
Pro tip for a hot day like this: Basel is rather expensive, so you don’t really want to pay for 3+ l water… But – with the exception of the Tinguely Fountain (and 2 others) – all fountains where the water flows out of a well pipe carry fresh drinking water (here I’m refilling at the Spalenbrunnen).
For Art Lovers:
Okay, as an artist I *cannot* visit Basel, one of the most important cities when it comes to art, and not see at least one museum or exhibition… Because of its importance, its proximity and because they have a ‘happy hour’, I chose to visit the Kunstmuseum Basel.
I had one (1!) hour – free entry – to try to see as much of their collection as possible. Which is insane….
However, I seem to have been quite focused, because I managed to capture some great art! Fair warning: I’m going to share rather a lot of photos now 😉
Jacques Lipchitz, Homme assis à la guitare, 1920, Sitzender Mann mit Gitarre, Seated Man with Guitar.
Left: Henri Rousseau (Le Douanier), Forêt vierge au soleil couchant, ca. 1910, Urwaldlandschaft mit untergehender Sonne, Jungle with Setting Sun
Right: Henri Matisse, La berge, Frühjahr 1907 (Collioure), Die Uferpartie, The River Bank
Jacques Lipchitz, Joueur de guitare, 1922, Gitarrenspieler, Guitar Player
Pablo Picasso, Arlequin assis, 1923, Sitzender Harlekin, Seated Harlequin
[I had wanted to see this painting for a long time!]
Henri Laurens, L’automne, 1948, Der Herbst, Fall.
Fernand Léger, La femme et l’enfant (La mère et l’enfant), 1922, Frau und Kind (Mutter und Kind), Woman and Child (Mother and Child)
Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Weiblicher Torso, 1910, Female Torso, Torse de femme
Lovis Corinth, Blumen und Tochter Wilhelmine, 1920, Flowers and Daughter Wilhelmine, Fleurs et la fille Wilhelmine
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Die Freunde (Hermann Scherer und Albert Müller), 1924, The Friends (Hermann Scherer and Albert Müller), Les amis (Hermann Scherer et Albert Müller)
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, La chapelle gothique, 1951, Die gotische Kapelle, The Gothic Chapel
Pablo Picasso, Femme au chapeau assise dans un fauteuil, 1941–1942, Frau mit Hut in einem Sessel sitzend, Woman with Hat Seated in an Armchair
Pablo Picasso, La guenon et son petit, 1951, Pavianweibchen mit Jungem, Baboon and her Young
Alberto Giacometti, Le jardin à Stampa, 1954, Der Garten in Stampa, The Garden in Stampa
Quatre femmes sur socle, 1950, Vier Frauen auf einem Sockel, Four Women on a Base
[I don’t really know Giacometti’s paintings, so I was very happy to see a few, especially because he painted a *garden*!]
Auguste Rodin, La grande ombre
Hans Holbein d. J., Bildnis des schreibenden Erasmus von Rotterdam, 1523, Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam Writing, Portrait d’Erasme de Rotterdam écrivant
Auguste Rodin, Les bourgeois de Calais, Die Bürger von Calais
Alexander Calder, Big Spider, 1959, Die grosse Spinne, La grande araignée
This art-on-speed-experience was really crazy! They more or less threw us out of the museum at the end 😉
But I need to return anyway – I feel kind of bad for visiting Basel without seeing the Fondation Beyeler…
I visited Basel on 26th of July during a heat wave (36°C / 96.80F – which felt more like 40°C/104F), and I can understand why people say that this city has a bit of a mediterranean flair. The light, the water, the warm colours and colourful buildings, the relaxed atmosphere in cafés and bistros and ice-cream parlours.
It’s difficult to immerse oneself while on such a short trip, but I managed to soak up a bit of the vibe while sitting on a bench on the river in order to get in at least one sketch and watching all the people stroll by – especially all those carrying their ‘Wickelfische’ after swimming in the Rhine 🙂 At that point I actually regretted not being able to join. But I can always come back! I plan to.
Also, as an artist I *cannot* visit Basel without doing at least one little sketch, so I spent a bit of the evening across the cathedral on the other side of the Rhine in order to capture this moment and help me to keep this memory.
The promenade was quite busy… But I had fun!!
A few additional impressions / perspectives:
The circular light opening in the middle of the City Lounge (Messehalle 1).
The old garden of the University of Basel as seen from the Mittlere Brücke (middle bridge).
The view from the old garden of the University of Basel.
Basel and the Rhine on a summer evening:
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