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The Reformation in Basel.

Basel's history extends back over 2,000 years and the city is considered to be one of the cradles of the Reformation in Switzerland. This was very probably the most significant event in the city's development. Its impact went far beyond the confines of religious life and had a lasting effect on politics, the economy and society.

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The fact that Basel is often mentioned together with cities such as Zurich and Geneva in the context of the Reformation in Switzerland is due to book-printing. In Basel, important reformational texts or texts that ushered in the Reformation were printed, for instance the new edition of the New Testament in Greek with a new Latin translation, prepared by Erasmus of Rotterdam. 

The political process of gaining independence from the Bishop began already at the end of the 14th century when  important governing rights were transferred to the city. Its government was dominated by the guilds from that time onwards.

In 1521, the city council renounced all obligations towards the Bishop and refused to make the pledge of allegiance that had been sworn annually up to that time. Although the city council was split between adherents of the old and the new faith, the Reformation had many supporters in the guilds.

In December 1528, these demanded that the city council embrace the Reformation. However, the council was undecided and simply launched a consultation on the topic.

On 9 February 1529, two or three hundred malcontents rioted and vented their rage at the works of art in the churches.

The Basel iconoclasm passed off without bloodshed, but was nevertheless considered to be one of the most radical in the history of the Reformation and led to the desired result: once the councillors who had stayed true to the old faith had fled the city, the remaining council members brought in reformed worship, and the Bishop was relieved of his spiritual duties.

Reformational scholars were engaged at the university, and ownership of the monasteries was transferred to the city. An influx of Protestant religious refugees from other countries gave an economic boost to the city and notably to the silk trade and eventually silk ribbon weaving. This gave rise to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry – the city's most important economic activity to this day.

Reformation in Basel

A turning point with serious consequences: the Reformation had a lasting impact that went far beyond religious life, affecting politics, the economy and society as well. Our tour will take you back to these turbulent times and to the places where...


1 hrs. 30 min.

Languages offered


CHF 280
Evening surcharge after 6 pm CHF 50

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