Basel's Historical Churches (Self Guided), Basel

The churches of Basel are important cultural, religious and architectural elements of the city. The architecture is especially sacred, considering that despite most of the congregations being Catholic, the styles and design remain different. Some, for example, are constructed in a modern style, while others reflect the more ancient designs. Take a tour down the religious edifices of Basel today!
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Basel's Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Basel's Historical Churches
Guide Location: Switzerland » Basel (See other walking tours in Basel)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: Cathy
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Elisabethenkirche (St. Elisabeth Church)
  • Leonhardskirche (St. Leonard's Church)
  • Basel Münster (Basel Minster)
  • Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)
  • Peterskirche (St. Peter Church)
  • Predigerkirche (Preacher's Church)
1
Elisabethenkirche (St. Elisabeth Church)

1) Elisabethenkirche (St. Elisabeth Church)

St. Elisabeth Church is an impressive Swiss Gothic Revival-style church. It was completed in 1864 and features a 72 meter (236 ft) tall spire. St. Elisabeth Church was the first church built in Basel after the Reformation.

Wealthy businessman Christoph Merian sponsored the church's construction. Christoph Merian and his wife Margareth Burckhardt-Merian are buried in black marble sarcophagi in the church's crypt.

St. Elisabeth's most attractive interior feature is its beautiful stained glass windows. The organ was built in 1862 and has been expanded to feature 41 working stops.

The church is now home to the first Swiss Open Church. The church caters to urban people from all backgrounds and supports the LGBT community.

The church hosts a special service during the Carnival of Basel. It also hosts modern fashion shows, panel discussions, and punk concerts.

St. Elisabeth Church has an on-site cafe with outdoor seating.
2
Leonhardskirche (St. Leonard's Church)

2) Leonhardskirche (St. Leonard's Church)

Leonhardskirche is a reformed Protestant church believed to be built in the 12th century, although the exact time period is still up to debate. Some base their assumption on the 12th century due to a collection of murals and graves which tend to point to that time. Regardless, Leonhardskirche has survived some infrastructure destruction and renovations, yet still maintained its neo-Gothic style.
3
Basel Münster (Basel Minster)

3) Basel Münster (Basel Minster) (must see)

Today's Basel Minster is one of Basel's most iconic landmarks. It features distinctive red sandstone walls and colorful roof tiles. Built and renovated between 1019 and 1500, it is one of the oldest structures in Basel.

The cathedral hill was settled during the Celtic period, and excavations revealed an ancient wall, gate, and street under the current cathedral.

Bishop Haito built Basel's first cathedral in the ninth century. A larger building was consecrated in 1019. Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was present at the consecration, and the cathedral is also known as the Heinrich Munster. The church was rebuilt during the 13th century and was heavily damaged in the 1356 Basel earthquake.

After the earthquake, the cathedral was rebuilt in Gothic-style and re-consecrated in 1363. A monastery was also built at that time.

The Georgsturm tower was built in 1429, and the Martinsturm tower was built in 1500. The towers are named after saints of the knights, George and Martin. A 1372 artwork displayed in the Georgsturm depicts Saint George fighting a small dragon. The saints are also represented in sculptures next to the main entrance. The towers each have 242 stairs. Visitors that do the climb are rewarded with panoramic views of the city.

In 1440, Felix V was elected as a counterpope or antipope in the Basel Minster.

During the Reformation in the 1500s, the bishop was expelled, and the monastery closed. Many valuable cathedral artworks were destroyed during the Reformation. For example, a statue of the Virgin Mary used to stand between the doors of the main porch. The statue was destroyed during the Reformation, and the column is now empty. However, the scenes depicting prophets and kings remain intact.

Statues depicting Emperor Henry II and his wife Empress Kunigunde are on the main porch.

Why You Should Visit

The Basel Minster is an architecturally stunning cathedral with a long and storied history. The stained glass windows, arched ceiling, and organ are beautiful.

Tips

Don't miss climbing one of the towers and enjoying dramatic views over Basel.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

4) Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

Martinskirche is a church that was built for the great Saint Martin. It is the oldest parish church in the city and has origins that date back to 1100. The tower floor as well as the core of the facade were added in 1287. After the earthquake in 1356, the church was completely reconstructed. Since 1529, Martinskirche has been used as a reformed Protestant church.
5
Peterskirche (St. Peter Church)

5) Peterskirche (St. Peter Church)

Peterskirche is a church that was built in 1529. Constructed as a reformed Protestant religious residence for the famous Saint Peter, the venue eventually became a parish church in 1233. An earthquake damaged the building in the 14th century, however it has since been remodeled. The walls of Peterskirche are beautifully decorated with paintings, murals and carvings, some of which date back to 1400.
6
Predigerkirche (Preacher's Church)

6) Predigerkirche (Preacher's Church)

Predigerkirche is a Christian-Catholic church that was constructed in the 13th century. It is one of the first churches in the Upper Rhine to be designed in a Gothic style. The inauguration of the choir was organized in 1264 by Dominican Albertus Magnus, bishop of Regensburg. Despite the tragic destruction of a severe earthquake, Predigerkirche has maintained its beauty and elegance.

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