Sunday, June 10, 2007

BASLE - BASEL - BÂLE

MY FIRST SWISS TOWN (AUGUST 1969) - MAY 2005

On August 26, 1969 I started hitch-hiking Europe: Lisbon - Stockholm! The first day I made Lisbon-Guarda, close to the Portuguese/Spanish border; the second day drove me, after a night ride, to Irun at the Spanish/French border; and then I caught a lift that would land me in Basel on Friday, August 30, 1969. This was the first Swiss town (though quite international) I've ever visited. It's located in the Dreiländereck (Three Countries' Corner - Switzerland, France, and Germany)...


"SPALENTOR, built in the 14th century, is the only remaining of the seven entrances through the medieval walls Basel once had (the others were destroyed in the nineteenth century with the expansion of the city)"


"RHINE KNEE - In Basel the Rhine, flowing west from Lake Constance (Hochrhein), turns north"


"MIDDLE BRIDGE - The first version was built in 1226; the current, in 1905"


"HELVETIA is the Latin word for Switzerland; it comes from the Helvetians, the first tribe settling in this central European region. «Helvetia auf Reisen» (Helvetia on her travels) was created by Bettina Eichinger in 1979/1980 and sits at the end of the Middle Bridge on the Little Basel side. «One day Helvetia leaves a 2 Swiss franc coin, mingles with the crowd and makes a long journey; on her way she also comes to Basel; after a fatiguing walk across the city she lays off mantle, shield, spear and suitcase, rests on a bridge pier of Middle Bridge and looks thoughtfully down the Rhine». It constitutes a major contrast to the traditional figure of Helvetia shown on the Swiss stamps and coins"


"CITY HALL in Market place started to be built in 1501, when Basel joined the Swiss Confederation, and somehow rebuilt in 1899-1901"


"CITY HALL COURTYARD - The sculpture of Munatius Plancus, the founder of the roman city of Augusta Raurica (some 10 km from Basel) is the most prominent one in the building. The paintings bear two basic themes: Law and Legislation and Basel’s membership of the Swiss Confederation"


"BASEL HILTON - This photo was taken many years after the event I wanted to remember. The Basel Hilton is quite close to the Bank for International Settlements, where the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision meets and where the meetings of the Committee of Governors of the Central Banks of the European Economic Community used to take place. The negotiations of the European Central Bank section of the Maastricht Treaty (and of its predecessor, the European Monetary Institute) started at the Committee of Governors, but it was on a room of the Basel Hilton that a major feature of the European System of Central Banks - the attribution of legal personality to the ECB - was developed. It happened to be my room for that night, and the proposal (made by the legal experts of the Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish Central Banks -myself, Smits and Bieger) made its long way through to article 9.1 of the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank..."

I've some more pictures of Basel in 1990 (date of some of the meetings I mentioned) on the post Euroairport, Euroland!. Basel is also a very important industrial town - the Swiss chemical industry operates largely from Basel, with Novartis, Syngenta, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Clariant, and Hoffmann-La Roche headquartered there - and a quite interesting cultural centre with important museums...

21 comments:

Kalyan said...

Some wonderfully captured shots along with the nice informative documentary!

Moi said...

Love going through travelogues with personal touch and this blog is just the right combination :)
Thanx for visiting me...i hope to be here again soon :)

Andrea Gerak said...

I was singing a few times at the doors of the City Hall... Wonderful place! But I had no camera with me...

Thanks for guiding through this nice city!

Dsole said...

Hey, you both look gorgeous in this photos!
I guess any little city has its own history and interesting background...
thank you for your comments on Madrid DP. I've been busy these days... I guess it's not easy for me posting and being updated meveryday! I'm trying! ;)

isabella said...

Thanks for that trip down the memory lane! Those are some great photos!
We visited Basel in the late 80's, but I see not much has changed...

I am very impressed with your paticipation in the ECB protocol groundworks. Wasn't that a precursor to the EU?

Trotter said...

Kalyan,
thanks for the comment!

Moi,
glad that you found the blog interesting; loved to see your pictures too, in particular the Blues!! Thanks.

Andrea,
welcome back; I can imagine your singing at Market place...

Dsole,
how I understand you; that's why I can't commit for a Daily Photo... But your posts are usually a great job!

Isabella,
you're right; the Treaty on the European Union was signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992 and introduced the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank. That also paved the way to the introduction of the EURO currency on January 1, 1999 and of the banknotes and coins on January 1, 2002!

Peter said...

I really enjoy your posts, also or maybe especially for the stories that always accompany your photos.

I haven't been visiting your blog for so long, but now I also learnt why you are such a globetrotter profesionally. But, you seem to be it privately also.

As a Swede, can I ask you why you decided to go for Stockholm (frankly speaking)?

I never stopped at Basle, just drove through and switched airplanes. Especially the city hall seems to be something spectacular! So, has to be visited one day.

Shionge said...

Thank you for sharing this...the place I visited in Switzerland is Lucern back in 1990 during my honeymoon :)

Hey..you've visited SIngapore?? Next time let me know and I'll be glad to show you around :)

alice said...

It's very pleasant to follow you around the world! My only memory about Bâle is not a good one: travelling by train when I was a student ( quite a long time ago!), we have been awaked up with a start by strong barks: Swiss Police with huge German shepherds were searching someone in all our train. They stopped a man at the end, and the train set out again. A bad memory.

Aditi said...

the best part is that u cover all the non touristy spots as well, for its not often enough i would get to hear about all these little details... loved the bit about helvetia

Ash said...

As always, wonderful photos and words!!

Trotter said...

Hi Peter thanks!
In the mid sixties, many Portuguese boys in secondary school had Scandinavian girl friends, whom they corresponded with, arguably to try to improve their knowledge of the English language... I also had some (in Sweden, Denmark and Finland if I remember well, as well as in France). So, when I decided to make a trip in Europe, I wrote to one of them (originally from Boden in northern Sweden, but then living in Stockholm) and arranged to make a visit to your country’s capital city. The fact that I had friends expat in Paris and Brussels also helped!
An unforeseen event happened during that trip: after Stockholm, I was supposed to get to a student’s summer camp in England for some kind of hops picking. However, I ended up in Cologne at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst; but that is the story I talk about in the post Köln am Rhein (under the label Cologne)...
Basel is interesting; the old town is quite nice and the Museums are worth visiting!
Take care
Gil

GMG said...

Shionge,
Honeymoon in Luzern! That’s great. Now that you talk about it, I remember that we also travelled through Luzern during our honeymoon (I posted some pictures in Blogtrotter 70s & 80s – under the label Luzern, and also Bern – August 1975)…
It’s true that I’ve been in Singapore several times; there are some pictures of the first visit in Blogtrotter Revival the 90s – label Singapore, and I’ll post some pore from 2005 in Blogtrotter; would love to read your comments!

Alice,
Sorry for that bad experience. It’s true that Basel is a German speaking canton, and the reputation of the German Police is not brilliant, but actually that could have happened anywhere…

Aditi,
Glad that you liked… The sculpture is a very funny one!

Ash,
Thanks!

zannnie said...

gosh, you 've travelled so many places ;) which ones have you not?:)

Sigma said...

Another lovely post! And another lovely town! From all I have heard and seen (through others' eyes, of course!) of Switzerland, it is indeed heaven!
I love the stories and intersting facts that accompany your narrative. The piece about Helvetia was really interesting.

Trotter said...

zannie,
I try to see and live the most, but for the time being, I'm a bit stuck...
There is still a lot to be seen; the map at the bottom of my blog page shows countries visited, but doesn’t show what you have not visited within a country and some countries are truly big...

Sigma,
Thanks. Switzerland is wholly prepared for visitors to enjoy...

Z said...

Hi GMG, thanks for "visiting" Villigen. I'm quite fascinated by this statue of Helvetia on the corner of the roof -- I'll have to find it myself! Indeed, quite a different take from the usual, regal coin version - she doesn't appear on the stamps anymore. A link to images of the coins (I inserted a pagebreak after the iabout/ ).
http://www.snb.ch/en/iabout/
cash/id/cash_coins

Cuckoo said...

Switzerland always make me nostalgic being my first country abroad on my own.

GMG said...

Z,
Thanks for the visit and the comment. I've introduced your link to coins and a link to old stamps. Thanks!

Cuckoo,
You were pretty lucky for your first...

Ray said...

check out my blog about basel and the rhine (in german).
http://uferlos.wordpress.com/

trotter said...

Ray,
OK! I'll check it!