Basel Munster (Basel - Switzerland)

The place where Basel Munster or Cathedral is located is called the Munster Hill. Excavations in this site shows traces of settlements of 1st C BCE. By 4th C CE, a Roman Fort was built here. By 805-823 CE Carolingian Haito Minster was the church here! Today only its foundation is decipherable. This was destroyed by 917 CE when Hungary invaded. By 1019 CE, the last Ottomon Emperor Henry II constructed it again. In 2019, its all set to celebrate its 1000 years!!! 
By 1220 CE, the church was expanded. The cloister beside the church must have also been built around this time. The north facade called the Galluspforte was also built in 1185 CE. Its one of the sculptural marvel of the entire church. It is the earliest Romanesque figure portal in German region. True to its age, its a rustic design. 

Depicted here is Jesus flanked by Peter and Paul. Also depicted is the parable of 10 holy virgins with Jesus. On the sides are the reliefs of the noble actions of Jesus like attending the sick, feeding the hungry etc. he stained glass windows belong to the late 16th C. The bronze door belongs only to 19th C.
On the southern side is a huge lobby. The arched fir wood ceiling and wooden wall reliefs were made in 1490. This entire space is filled several tombs added during various times! The Cloister windows pretty much reminded me of Westminster Abbey.

In 1356, a major earthquake, destroyed its original tower. So by early 15th C, the present Gothic structure was built incl the twin towers called the Martin Tower & George Tower. In the western main entrance is a high relief of St George as an equestrian on either sides, static in Georgestrum with a sundial above and killing a dragon in Martinstrum. The George Tower is 67.3m tall while the Martin Tower is 65.5m tall. The style of this church as well as the Rathaus, did remind me of Munich's Marienplatz and Neus Rathaus.

Going inside, the primary task was to climb the towers! I was informed that for safety purposes no one is allowed to climb solo. There has to be atleast 1 more person. Since I was there on a solo trip, I had no clue what to do. Luckily for me, an Italian family of 4 took the climbing ticket and I asked the person at the counter if I could join them and I did!!! 
The tower goes as a simple spiral climbing for sometime and after than begins the challenging part and I understood why where they hesitant to send anyone alone. The passage was made of wood and the passage went in short sections and not a spiral! At places it was so narrow that a voluptuous person would find it difficult to pass through!! It was out of question for anyone with vertigo or claustrophobia. At several places the passage goes horizontal with closed doors on either sides which should be opened to access the other side. Esp when you're between the 2 closed doors it definitely feels claustrophobic.

Just before reaching the top, a door opens up as balcony. Here, going on either sides, takes you to either George Tower or Martin Tower. I went to check out the Martin Tower. Now there was a small circular platform to have a good view and beyond this is another tiny spiral staircase to reach further higher level and from here the view was extremely spectacular. Though I totally wasted my time going all the way to La Roche Tower, atleast I wasn't disappointed as climbing this, I got to see such a spectacular view of Basel from atop!!!

I don't know which era the colorful tiles atop belong to, but I'm assuming they too should be from the 15th C CE, when the towers were built, unless they were renovated sometime later. I do have a love for the traditional cement tiles of that era. I already told you about it in my post on Westminster Palace. However here they weren't patterned but just solid bright colors, but were arranged in a beautiful pattern!

The interiors of the church was typical Gothic architecture with high arched ceiling and Romanesque sculptures, that's so typical of the 12th C CE. The pulpit belongs to the 15th C CE and the present organ belongs to 2003, however the original organ must have been placed here ever since Gothic era. 

The nave is on an elevated platform, actually its the above of a 2 storied section with the crypt beneath it. The crypt was rather interesting with some ceiling murals which were painted in c.1202 CE. Some more panels were painted c.1400 CE. 
The nave has quite a few sculptures that are rustic and belong to the 12th C. Infact a tiny panel at the entrance to the tower staircase is also from this era. Esp the capitals of the pillars at the nave are such amazing examples of the sculptural marvel from Adam & Eve, to dragons to mythological creatures to warrior saints to gruesome killings etc! I don't recognize the story behind most of it and I couldn't find the details there or on their website as well. If someone can explain, I'm all ears. 

My complete Basel Travelogue: Basel in 24 hrs Part 1, Part 2, Basel Zoo, Basel Munster

To Get There:
Nearest tram/bus stop: Markt Platz
Entry fee: Free; Tower Climbing: CHF 5

P.S: I was invited by Basel Tourism Dept - Basel Card to experience the city for review purposehowever the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands