Basel: Some history and culture, a bit of football and a good amount of beer!
Basel is a Swiss German speaking city in the northwest of Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel has been a commercial hub and important cultural center since the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, and it has emerged over time as an important centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries of the world with major companies such as Roche, Novartis, Bayer, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Abbot etc all situated in the city.
There are settlement traces on the Rhine from the early La Tène period (5th century BC), but it wasn’t until the Romans established a centre here and built a castle that the city began to develop. The name of Basel is itself derived from the Roman word Basilius, meaning emperor. Basel was incorporated into Germania Superior in AD 83, and over time became a centre for trade, study and printing.
Basel is Switzerland’s third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 175,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet
Basel has a population of about 175,000, where about 35.5% of the population are resident foreign nationals, a lot who work in the many chemical and pharmaceutical industries dotted around the city. Also factor in that due to the close borders with both France and Germany, you can add another 120,000 commuters moving into the city for their daily work. All in all it is a busy city, but it has to be said most travel in this city and extended region is done via the excellent tram, train and bus network that is also well connected to France and Germany. Basel is also a very bicycle friendly city with many bike lanes and places to park a bike. You really dont notice much cars or trucks when walking around the city, which really is a great feeling.
Of course not far from the city centre (about 35 minutes by bus) is the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. the interesting thing about this airport is that there are two borders….one for France (where the airport actually lies on) and the other for Switzerland. In the old days before Schengen there was an immigration check point in the middle of the airport where one could border hop officially with stamps, etc if needed. But be careful, the border police can still do customs checks on its various borders, just in case you are trying to enter Switzerland with a van load of dodgy TV’s or mutton or whatever.
Basel calls itself the Cultural Capital of Switzerland which is a bold claim it has to be said. The reason for this claim is many fold. One reason is the massive amount of galleries and museums all over the city, well over 50 or more, the highest concentration in the country. You have the internationally renowned museums such as Basel Art Museum, the Beyeler Foundation, Natural History Museum of Basel and the Museum of Cultures Basel, Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Sports Museum of Switzerland, Museum of Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Basel (Art Museum Basel), amongst many more, too many to mention in fact, and a shit load of other museums dedicated to more contemporary “modern” art, as if you didn’t get enough, or otherwise known as horse shite to the man in the street!
The best thing about Basel for me is the sight of the river, the Rhine. The river cuts through the the city and its great on a hot summers day to hang out with a few friends having some cans of beers by the banks of the great river. Refreshing.
I also strongly recommend coming to the city for its annual carnival of the city (Basler Fasnacht), the biggest carnival in Switzerland and large crowds attend every year, but be aware its a four day event with the first day starting at 4 in the morning! It is on the Monday after Ash Wednesday and brings the city to a standstill celebrating on the streets of Basel in a big street parade that goes on forever, with music and costume and good fun
Fun facts about Basel:
In 1938 Albert Hofmann, working for the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, was the first to first synthesize the psychedelic drug LSD.
The Roche Tower, designed by Herzog & de Meuron is 41 floors and 178 metres (584 ft) high, opened in 2015 it has become the tallest building in Switzerland
Basel has Switzerland’s oldest university, the University of Basel, dating from 1460. Well known alumni and staff include Jacob Burckhardt, Friedrich Nietzsch, Erasmus,and Carl Gustav Jung.
Established in 1874, Zoo Basel, affectionaly called “Zolli” by the locals, is the oldest zoo in Switzerland, and with over 1.7 million visitors per year, it is the second most visited tourist attraction in Switzerland, and well worth a visit.
While FC Basel is well known to football fans across Europe, it is Roger Federer, a Basel native, who is the sporting darling of the city.
Paddy Reilly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
Address: Steinentorstrasse 45, Basel 4051
Got off the tram near the centre of town and the best place really to start a beer crawl is in Paddy Reilly’s Irish pub.
This place does be heaving during Friday and Saturday nights, and can be more like a night club than a bar with a very young crowd, i.e a lot younger then me the old fella! But when its not packed to the rafters on a weekend night, it does normally have a very relaxed setting, always a good place to come in and have a good pint and chat with friends.
Typical decor you would expect from an Irish bar, a bit of traditional mixed in with the modern, all nice and respectable. A good long bar with plenty of space to sit at.
Friendly staff, chatty and efficient, and it seems all the staff are Irish as they do cater for a lot of British and Irish clientele.
Typical in an Irish bar, not a minute in the place and I’m already chatting to people, two strangers, but you know it really is true when they say that there are no strangers in an Irish pub, just friends you haven’t met yet, or something like that!
Good atmosphere in the place, a lot of sport on the various TV’s dotted around the pub, all relaxed and chilled…….just the way I like it
Apparently they do good food here, but feck that……..its the beer I am here for. Have the usual fare to drink, but some highlights on offer as well…..A Grimbergen was a surprise to see……but decided to go for a pint of Bodingtons as I had never tried it before. Pint was good, liked it and it went down well, if a little pricey, but heh this is Switzerland so….
So overall Paddy Reilly’s did the job and is recommended if you come to Basel.
Mr. Pickwick Pub
Address: Steinenvorstadt 13, Basel 4051
Mr Pickwick is your quintessential British pub, with plenty of beer available on tap, wooden decor with carpet, football (or at times Cricket) on the box and a smattering of ex pats all around. Located in the Steinenvorstadt, a pedestrian street where you will find a lot of snazzy bars and restaurants in the centre of Basel, albeit the more upmarket ones, that is the more expensive ones!
Mr Pickwick is a fine pub though, and it has a pretty decent selection of British and Irish beer both on tap and in bottle.
In summer one can sit outside and do some people watching. also they open the large front doors which is great for letting in some cool Rhine air throughout the bar
The pub grub here is meant to be good (their nachos, and fish n chips are popular dishes) certainly what came out of the kitchen while I was there looked good, but as this is Switzerland I prefer to keep my money for a more refined liquid lunch. I went for Fullers Jack Frost, an English bitter that was fine. Staff were efficient, albeit a bit cold, but heh this is an English pub right! Anyway I do like Pickwicks, its a decent place and its always easy to find a seat and have a nice pint while planning what you will get up to in the night, a good starting point……even if its best not to look too closely at your bill, ouch! (Yes, I know, its Switzerland!)
Address: Erasmusplatz. 12, 4057
Didi Offensive is a football culture bar in Kleinbasel (little Basel) a little bit from the city centre. It is a great place to watch live football, as there are TV’s, big and small all over the place, twelve in fact. But its not only live football, the bar regularly organize events on football culture, have table quizzes, host photography exhibitions, and the decor itself is like a museum dedicated to all things got to do with the beautiful game.
The name, “Didi offensive”, is a nickname that refers to the defensive-oriented football that former FC Basel coach Claude “Didi” Andrey used, and where the FCB fans began to mockingly sing “Didi offensively, Shalalalala”
Anyway nice little bar, friendly bar man, loads of football on the tv, nearly overloaded with football didn’t know what game to watch……mostly German and Spanish league football for the time I was there. Had a local Ueli beer,a wheat beer which perfectly poured but just not my cup of tea actually. In fact they didn’t really have a good variety of beers on offer, just the two pumps if I remember correctly, but I do see they organise regular craft beer nights which is interesting.
Toilets were a double treat, do the business but also to marvel at all the cool old Pannini stickers stuck up around the gents, and to pee into a goals which gives a cheer when you finish, now that is cool. I also noticed John Aldridge staring at me when I was peeing!
I like this bar, had a good vibe and is definitely a great meeting place for football fans to hang out and watch the big game…………..cool bar.
The Fish Inn
Address: Clarastrasse 56, 4058
The Fish Inn is a traditional British style pub on Clarastrasse, a little bit out but really not that far from the city centre via the tram. It has the typical British style decor you’d expect and had a nice cozy atmosphere when I was there. A few people, but not to many were present, and the bar lady was friendly. The bar has a real homely atmosphere that I like, a good place to have a quiet pint and a good chat with a friend. Feels like a traditional “local” pub. I imagine in the winter this is a the perfect place to come to get out of the wind and the rain and have a hot whiskey and pint to warm the soul.
They do food, which is typical British food, and also offer takeaways, which is kind of cool, albeit looking at their menu it does all look a bit too pricey for me!
The owners have their dogs wandering around and there is a relaxed setting in the pub.
I was happy to see that they had Fullers London Pride, an English bitter that I really like. Less happy to report that the pint wasn’t great, a bad pint, which was a pity. Perhaps that was the luck of the draw, but anyhow I will check this place out again as its a good to get a pub where one can relax away from the hustle and bustle downtown.
Address: Messeplatz. 10, 4058
Went to this place if only because apparently its the highest bar in the whole of Switzerland, that’s what they advertise themselves, which is a load of bollix as I had a beer near the top of the Jungfrau inside its mountain station but there you go.
Entrance via lift to the top of the high rise building, to the 31st floor, Bar Rouge is a cocktail and lounge bar, with a very modern and snazzy decor, looks good inside, very stylish, and can get a great panoramic view of the city, which looked pretty cool as day was turning to night. The bar itself looks fantastic, lots of activity going on from the bar staff making all varieties of cocktails, great chilled out ambiance inside everyone seems to be in good spirits. Except the bar manager who was having a bit of a row with one of his bar staff, a little bit unsavory to see, and he looked like a bit of a prick to be honest, all Gordon Ramsey. Looked like there was a mistake with a cocktail order, with the barman having to redo it again and also pay for the extra cost out of his own pocket, or at least that’s what it looked like. I didn’t see the big deal, sure its not like people really know what the fuck they are drinking in a cocktail anyway, and I know if he talked to me like that I’d tell him to do one. Anyway wasn’t nice to see…..
As for me, I played it safe and went for a regular local beer. The cocktails were a bit pricey for my small wallet. I was served quickly and efficiently and with a friendly smile by Shangi (I looked it up via their website!), who I have to say was very good. Always nice to get good service.
Pint was fine, and I was nice and comfy sitting at the bar admiring the views both outside and at the excellent selection of drinks behind the bar
Even in the toilets you can get a view of Basel where they have a glassed window overlooking the city landscape, but you need not worry as no one is likely to see you do your business that high up off the ground!
I did like it here, very relaxing, nice tempo to the place, music not too loud but in the background so it can be appreciated, and the bar was well lit. I bet they studied how to get the right moods via the perfect lightning, music tempo, etc……..it seems to work anyway. If it wasn’t for the price I’d like to return, alas maybe if i get a big win on the gee gees! Next time I will try a cocktail!
Address: Gerbergässlein 20, 4051
L’Unique is one of the more hip bars in the town. Cool because its decor is completely made up of rock music memorabilia all around the bar. This American style bar has quite an extensive collection on display, from signed platinum albums, guitars, rock suits, and rock art, a veritable feast for anyone interested in rock music.
The bar is located right down an alley way not far off the city centre, and can be difficult to find. If so, all you need to do is ask for the directions to the graffiti with all the rock stars, as right across from the bar is a brilliant street painting of various rock legends, it is a Basel highlight to take a photo of it as it really is that good!
Sat at the bar, ordered a regular beer (a Feldschlösschen lager) which was fine and nice. Half the time you are just staring at all the stuff on the walls……I noted a signed Kiss drum set on the ceiling, some Nirvana albums beside me and also a cool looking gorilla with a guitar!
Had a very good chat with the bar lady, Eleni, who was super cool and friendly to boot, who agreed with me that the Nirvana stuff was probably the best thing in the rock collection.
Bar has great service, and always has a good friendly atmosphere in the place. Even though it can be busy it is always easy to find a seat and a place to relax. Good vibes always, and as I am a metal head so yes this is one of my favourite bars in the city. Recommended!
Address: Barfüsserplatz 12, 4051 Basel
Rio Bar, is a nice little bar in the city centre, great for meeting people before heading onto somewhere else where all sorts from the young and the old, the well to do and the not so mix and chat on small tables, or at the small bar. The bar is run by a stern looking Swiss lady, but once you get to know her, she is good fun and has a good sense of humour.
Has a good selection of spirits and aperitif’s on show, and not such a great selection of beer, really just the local stuff. I ordered a large glass of Ziegel Hof, a beer from Liestal just up the road from Basel. Was fine, in fact I had about three of them. Not strong and went down well. One of my favourite bars in the city, small and comfy and really a great place to wind down and relax after a tough day.
Address: Kohlenberg 10, Basel 4051
Baragraph is a small bar on a side street off the main square of Barfüsserplatz. Cosy bar with not a whole lot going on, but its good for a quick pint in quiet surroundings, more a chill out bar to relax and reflect. Has an interesting decor going on, all 70’s style or at least that’s what it looks to me on the untrained eye, all bright colours and lots of light, and the service is always friendly and chatty. I like this place, had a KonigPilsner, was fine in a bar that one can definitely while away a few hours. Also must add the beer is not as pricey here than in other establishments in the city.
Address: Kohlenberg 7, 4051
Topped the night off with a late pint in Excalibar, a late, very late, night bar that seems at least to me to have no closing time! Small bar, that can get crowded at times, but it really is the place to be to get that late night drink. Does have a juke box that bangs out the tunes, and the darts (the plastic version, not the real dart board) do keep punters amused over the hours. Had a quick pint, a Calanda lager, was fine.
Is an ok bar, with staff that could be friendlier, and not a great place to actually meet people as everyone tends to be pretty sloshed by the time they get here, but it does the business when one needs that late night drink and for that we should be thankful.
Arena/Stadium: St. Jakob-Park
Location: St. Jakobs-Strasse 395, 4052 Basel
Manager: Urs Fischer
Leagues: Swiss Super League
Nicknames: FCB, Bebbi, RotBlau
FC Basel 1893 (Fussball Club Basel 1893), are a Swiss football club based in Basel. They are one of the most successful clubs in Swiss football, having won the Swiss Super League 19 times, and well on their their way to winning their 20th, the second most for any Swiss club. (still a long way to go to catch the Grasshoppers with 27 titles!). Basel have also won the Swiss Cup 11 times.
On the 12th of November 1893 an advertisement appeared in the Basler newspaper requesting that anyone who wished to join a football team should meet up on the Wednesday at 8:15 in the Schuhmachern-Zunft restaurant. Roland Geldner placed the advert, later elected as the clubs first president. Eleven men attended the meeting and thus, Fussball Club Basel was founded on 15 November 1893. The club colours were decided from the first day on, red and blue, the “RotBlau”, taken from the local rowing club that a few of the early members were also involved with. Incidentally Hans Gamper an early club captain went on to found FC Barcelona in Spain, while he was visiting his uncle in the Catalan city, and is the reason why both clubs share the same colours.
It took a while for the club to get going as they got their first trophy 40 years after their inauguration,winning the Swiss Cup in 1933 beating Grasshoppers 4-3, and in 1953 they finally won their first league title in 1953, beating Young Boys of Bern who came second.
It was really in the late 1960’s that FC Basel started to come into real prominence. Under the tutelage of Helmut Benthaus, winning the club’s first double in the 1966–67 season. From 1968 to 1970 they won the title two seasons in a row. At the early 70’s Basel again won two in a row back to back titles, 1971–72 and 1972 -73. Former player and Manager Helmut Benthaus stayed on with Basel as a boss for 17 years which is pretty amazing when you take into account modern day football and how sack happy chairman can be. In those years as manager he brought the title to Basel seven times and won two cups as well. Not bad from the German, who also won the Bundesliga in his home country with VfB Stuttgart in 1982.
In 1988 the unthinkable happened and Basel were relegated into the Nationalliga B, the second league. It took them a few years and several managers to get back to the top in 1994 under Claude Andrey (see “Didi Offensive” above!)
Christian Gross, yes THAT Christian Gross, ex Spurs manager and London Underground aficionado, became coach of Basel in July 1999 after a horrid time in London with Tottenham. Gross’ appointment happened at the same time as Basel started to get some serious financial backing. It was not long until Basel returned to the top. (At the moment, Pharma giant Novartis give the club roughly US$2.2 million a year to sponsor their shirt). Also a brand new spanking stadium, St. Jakob-Park, was built and finished in time for the 2001 season.
All these positive steps resulted in four Swiss championships, four Swiss Cups, and some very good runs in Europe under Gross. The championship win in 2001-2002 was their first for 22 years, also securing the cup, making it a nice double for the season. The good days were back!
One player that stood out at this time was Scott Chipperfield, the Aussie box to box player and all round terrier on the pitch. He is Basel’s all-time record holder of titles with the club, with seven Swiss Championships and six Swiss Cup honours. A player that probably could have had a stint with an English team but was loyal to Basel, and in my opinion a very much underrated player.
Basel have competed in European competition every season since 1999–2000, and had a bit of a voodoo over British teams, beating the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Celtic, Middlesbrough, Spurs and, em Glentoran, over the years, until this season where they got their arses spanked by Arsenal home and away in the CL.
They have been in the Champions League more times than any other Swiss club and are the only Swiss club to have ever qualified directly for the Champions League group stages. They also got to the last 16 in the CL three times, and got to a Europa League semi-finals in the 2012–13 season losing out 5-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Chelsea.
With all this European exposure it means that Basel is not only gaining invaluable experience but also doing nicely in revenue. Revenue that can improve the team and what we see is that Basel are clearly head and shoulders above every other team in Switzerland. This is borne out by the fact that FC Basel are currently looking to win their 8 league title in a row this season 2016-2017, flying ahead of the rest of the teams once again.
FC Basel play their home games at the 38,500 capacity St. Jakob-Park, the largest stadium in Switzerland and nicknamed “Joggeli” by the fans.The stadium has a restaurant and a sports bar, as well as a shopping centre and some apartments and office. It definitely doesnt look like a stadium when passing by, it is a bit drab to be honest. It is easy to get on match day via tram (Line 14) or bus (36, 37) from the city centre, or by train as the stadium also has its own stop. In 2016, the UEFA Europa League final was played at St. Jakob-Park between Liverpool and Seville, with many in the English press complaining of how small the attendance was for such a high profile game.
What you will see in St. Jakob-Park is plenty of loyal and passionate local fans who have made a name for themselves not just in Switzerland but abroad as well for their great banner displays and pyro parties from the stands. And if you are lucky you might just also see tennis star, and Basel native, Roger Federer, officially FC Basel’s most famous fan!
As for rivals, I would say it has to be the two Zurich clubs, Grasshopper Club Zürich and FC Zürich, with FC Zürich the number one foe, mainly down to an incident in the last day of the 2005–06 season when FC Basel only needed a draw to clinch the title at home against FC Zürich, who had the cheek to spoil the party and score in the last minute to take the title. After the final whistle, players and fans from both teams started fighting on the pitch and in the stands. Since that day fans from FC Zürich and FC Basel pretty much detest each other with a passion.
To the game
FC BASEL 4 – 0 FC LUGANO
04.02.2017 ST. JAKOB-PARK
2 ‘MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
23’ MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
36 ‘MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
85’ MARC JANKO
Was pish easy for Basel.
Well taken hat trick from Mohamed Elyounoussi, the Norwegian (obviously!), who had scored all his three goals within 34 minutes! In fact I had just about taken my seat when he had scored the first goal in the second minute with a simple touch into an empty net. His second was a bit nicer on the eye, beating the defender and scoring from just inside the box. The third was a nice cross into the box, well met and headed past the goalkeeper.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle when Lugano got a man red carded, unfairly in my opinion, for a stray elbow that the Basel fairy made a meal off, but they are the breaks.
The veteran Marc Janko came on in the 78th minute and it wasn’t long before he scored, in the 85th minute, to make it 4-0 to Basel and wrap another dead easy win for the team.
Lugano had a few chances but the Basel goalkeeper, the Czech Vaclik, was alert to their rare forays. Truth be told they were muck and its easy to see why they are second from bottom of the league.
I was impressed by Steffen on the wing, always lively, and of course the hat-trick hero who took all his goals very well. Overall the game was boring as it really was so one-sided, even from the get go, and I hate looking at games that are a non contest. But Basel can only do whats put infront of them, so fair enough for them.
Have a look at the match highlights for yourself
Short chat with Dr. Daniele Ganser, a prominent Swiss historian, Journalist, energy and peace researcher and head of the Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER), based in Basel. He teaches at the University of St. Gallen on the history and future of energy systems and at the University of Basel in the postgraduate study on conflict analysis on the global struggle for oil. His area of expertise is in the areas of global security, secret warfare, conflict analysis, peak oil and resource wars, economics and human rights and peace research. He has written many books covering his special topics, has appeared regularly on Russia Today and on Swiss TV, has given a TEDx lecture on “War and peace in the 21st century – the stories in our minds” in Budapest in 2016, and worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Switzerland.
Ganser certainly has some interesting points to make on 9/11 (the real reason for the war is the control of energy resources and has questions on that the third tower, WTC 7, that collapsed that day, and has some doubts that a plane had actually crashed into the Pentagon), on the need for oil (that the 2003 Iraq war a “classic resource war”) and false flag operations (Various activities of Operation Gladio)
Whatever you think of Ganser, just dont called him a conspiracy theorist. He doesn’t particularly like that! He had a fierce clash with Wikipedia over this issue when they more or less called him a conspiracy theorist while Ganser sees the word as a catch all term for the weird and the mad. This resulted in a mini edit war with supporters of Gnaser dueling with the Wikipedia mafia on who decides whats what on Gansers page.
Instead, Ganser calls himself a peace researcher and historian who investigates covert warfare using scientific methods and basic historical questioning techniques.
Illegal wars: How the NATO countries sabotage the UN. A chronicle from Cuba to Syria. Orell Füssli, Zurich 2016, ISBN 978-3-280-05631-8.
The book recalls that the United Nations Charter forbids Wars, and shows current examples of how this ban is disregarded by the NATO countries.
NATO Geheimarmenn in Europa. Orell Füssli, Zurich, 2008 ISBN 978-3-280-06106-0 .
“NATO Intelligence in Europe” in English. Ganser shows how manipulated terror and covert warfare were used in the cold war to discredit political opponents and create a climate of fear.
NATO’s secret armies. Operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe. Routledge, 2005 ISBN 0-7146-5607-0
The book addresses secret armies run by NATO and the CIA across mainland Europe, especially concentrating on Operation Gladio in Italy.
So overall, Basel isn’t a bad city for a short visit, can get expensive but even with that you can always grab a few cans and sit by the Rhine in the evening to chill out. Seeing FC Basel play is good fun, in a decent stadium, where the fans do create a good atmosphere at times. Basel well worth a groundhop and beer crawl, just save for it beforehand!
Use Facebook to Comment on this Post
Latest posts by Rob Nesbit (see all)
- Estrella Galicia - August 19, 2017
- Insel-Brauerei Baltic Ale - August 16, 2017
- This Drinking Life’s Guide to Running that bit better! - August 4, 2017
- Sagres Cerveja - July 30, 2017