Basel City: History & Tradition

The City joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501, in response to the Swabian Wars, which had shown the City that it was unable to protect its territorial integrity on its own. What tipped the balance in the decision to join were the guarantees of property ownership and the advantages of the collective security system, offered by the confederate allies. In return, the Canton had to accept limitations on its freedom of action in foreign policy, such as a prohibition on the independent waging of war, and undertook to remain neutral. This was recorded in the Federal Charter of 1501.


In 1833 the Canton split into the two half-cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Basel-City. On 26 August 1833, the Federal Diet ordered the new half-canton of “Basel-Stadttheil” to write itself a new constitution. It was promised not only the city, but the municipalities of Riehen, Bettingen and Kleinhüningen, on the right bank of the Rhine. A heavy financial burden for the new canton was the division of state assets according to population numbers, which lmeant that Basel City received only 36% of the assets of the old canton. The principal result of this was to weaken its political position within the Confederation.

Read more... (link only in German)



Tradition – Carnival

There are two reasons why anyone visiting Basel in February ought to witness the spectacle of Carnival. One is that the Basler Fasnacht is Switzerland’s biggest carnival. Another is that it is the world’s only Protestant carnival! A high point is always at the ‘morgestraich,’ in the early hours of the Monday after Ash Wednesday. At four o’clock in the morning the city is plunged into pitch darkness as the Cliques commence their parade around the city.

Read more... (link only in German)



Culinary tradition

Salmon à la mode de Basle

Though today it only exists as a legend, no Swiss fish has played a more prominent role in the history of a city than the salmon in the past of Basel. The tradition of salmon fishing dates back to Roman times.



Print recipe  (link only in German)


Traditional products

  • Basler Läckerli & Brunsli
  • Hypokras
  • Mässmogge
  • Schlumbergerli

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