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Discover Basel

Between medieval and contemporary architecture

Finance and pharmaceutical industry on the banks of the Rhine

With its 172,000 inhabitants, Basel is the 3rd largest city in Switzerland and a capital of the bilingual German/French half-canton of Basel-City. Although officially and factually bilingual, the canton offers German a special status. The entire metropolitan area, the Eurodistrict of Basel, has a population of nearly 830,000. Basel, the home city of Roger Federer, the famous world tennis champion, is Switzerland’s second largest economic centre after Zurich and a major financial and scientific centre (chemical and pharmaceutical industries), with the registered seats of Novartis, Hoffmann-La Roche, Syngenta, etc. Basel has a perfect location, at the heart of the Biovalley triangle, a cluster of competitiveness between Alsace and Baden-Württemberg, which brings together industrial centres, research laboratories, hospitals and universities. The city is also home to Switzerland’s oldest university, whose former students include such prominent figures as Erasmus, Paracelsus, Bernouilli or Nietzsche. Basel owes its charm largely to the medieval centre, divided in two by the Rhine River, which brings the people of Basel together in restaurants on its opposite banks and serves as an open-air swimming pool in summertime. The top must-see attractions of the old town include the Basel Minster with red sandstone brickwork, the town hall and remains of the 13th century city walls (destroyed in the 19th century in order to build roads), i.e. the Gate of Spalen and St. Alban’s Gate.

Real estate: living in Basel

Next to Zurich and Geneva, Basel is listed among the top three of the 10 world’s cities with the highest quality of life, but the real estate prices here are slightly lower than in the other two locations. The population of Basel is stable and statistically a little older than in the rest of Switzerland, despite the large numbers of students. The city has numerous parks and an excellent network of public communication. The international EuroAirport, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, which serves the city of Basel, is located within a binational, French/Swiss territory. The city has a number of cultural and sports facilities, and the surrounding countryside, dominated by the Jura mountains, is perfect for hiking, climbing and mountain biking. Those with a sweet tooth will love läckerlis, small cakes made from honey, hazelnuts, almonds, candied fruit and sweet cherries that are Basel’s most famous speciality. While the old city offers a representative sample of medieval architecture, the half-canton of Basel-City (and its surroundings) bears traces of renowned contemporary architects, all Pritzker prize winners, including Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Andō, Mario Botta Frank Gehry and Alvaro Siza, to name a few.