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History

The well-preserved Old Town, with its numerous and sometimes spectacular buildings, is witness to over two thousand years of Basel's history.

pageteaser altstadt

Back before our calendar began, Basel had already been occupied by the Celts. In 30 B.C. the city's strategically favourable position led the Romans to station its military forces on the hill now occupied by the cathedral.

One key event in the development of the city was the founding of the University in the year 1460. Many of Europe's greatest minds came to Basel, which became a veritable centre of humanism and book printing.

The Reformation witnessed the growth of the silk weaving and dyeing industries which in turn gave rise to today's pharmaceutical and chemical companies. The once fortified settlement is today a financial and commercial hub and a celebrated city of culture.

Dates from the history of Basel

Timeline Event
Around 120 B.C. Celtic settlement on the banks of the Rhein at Voltaplatz.
Around 50 B.C. Raurica settlement on the hill where the cathedral now stands.
44 or 43 B.C. Foundation of the Roman settlement Augusta Raurica (Augst) by the Roman General Lucius Munatius Plancus.
374 A.D.  The name of Basel (Basilia) is first mentioned by a Roman historian, Ammanius Marcellinus, on the occasion of a visit of the Emperor Valentinian I to the city.
7th century Final transfer of Bishop's seat from Augst to Basel.
917  The settlement and the Carolingian Minster were destroyed by the Hungarians. Death of Bishop Rudolph (sarcophagus in the Cathedral)
1006 The civil power of the Bishop was established in Basel by decree of the Emperor Henry II
1019 Consecration of the cathedral in the presence of Henry ll.
1080 First town­wall erected under Bishop Burchard von Fenis.
1185 Great fire burns down the city
1225/6 The first wooden bridge was spanned across the Rhine under Bishop Henry of Thoune. It is the nowadays Mittlere Rheinbrücke and had being made of stone between 1903­1906. The same bishop also issued the first guild charter and elected a council.
1349 The so-called "Black Death" plague was raging in Basel
1356 On the 18th October a part of the city and the Minster was destroyed by the great earthquake
1362 – 1398  Construction of outer town walls.
1392 Reunion of Greater and Lesser Basel
1398  The third town-wall, which was begun in 1362, is completed
1431-1448 The 17th General Council meets in Basel. 1439 Election and 1440 coronation of (anti)pope Felix V. 
1444 St. Jakob's battle next to the river Birse between Swiss confederates' small troop and the too strong Armagnacs' army under the French Dauphin
1460 Foundation of Basel's University (the oldest university in Switzerland) by Pope Pius II
1471 The Emperor Friedrich III confers on Basel the right to hold 2 fairs a year
1501 Basel is accepted into the Swiss Confederation
1529 Johannes Oekolampad introduces the Reformation. The Bishop of Basel leaves the city and settles down at Porrentruy and later at Soleure.
1647/8 After the thirty­year war (1618­1648), Mayor Johann Rudolf, from Basel, takes part in the Peace Congress of Münster and Osnabrück in Westphalia and succeeds in getting absolute sovereignty for the Swiss Confederation from the German Empire.
1661 The Council and the University buy up the Amerbach art collection. First public art collection in the world.
1798 “Basel Revolution”: the population of Basel Country has the same legal rights as the town’s population.
1833 The canton of Basel was separated into 2 half-cantons : Basel-Town and Basel-Country.
1844 The first railway-train reaches Basel.
1897 First Zionist congress in the world takes place in Basel. Theodor Herzl proclaims the Jewish State (Stadtcasino).
1904 Beginning of the navigation on the Rhine up to Basel.
1912 World peace congress in Münster (international socialism).
1917 First Swiss “Mustermesse” Fair.
1946 Inauguration of Basel­Mulhouse’s airport.
1957 2000 years Basel
1960 500 years University
1963 Foundation of Regio Basiliensis
1971 Connection of the Federal Railways’ Intercity net with Basel City. Basel builds ten-lane motorway over the Rhine.
1975 Inauguration of the new theatre of Basel
1980 „Grün 80“: 2nd swiss exhibition on Garden and Countryside’s construction. Inauguration of the Contemporary Art Museum and the Paper, Script, Print Museum in St. Alban-Tal
1981 Reinauguration of the Historical Museum
1989 European Ecumenical Congress “Peace in Justice”. Summit meeting during which the French State President François Mitterand, the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and the President of Switzerland, Jean­Pascal Delamuraz, sign a declaration for a closer collaboration between the three countries.
1996 Merger of the two chemical companies Ciba and Sandoz to become a new large group.