Basel's history dates back as far as the first century BC, when the first fortified settlements were erected on the Münsterhügel (Minster Mount). However scientists have proved that a settlement had existed even earlier, in Celtic times. It was located on the Rhine bend where the northern quarters of Greater Basel now extend. First mentioned in Roman history in 374 AD, Basel was at this time still small establishment. By the 11th Century Basel has been a possession first to the Alemanni, than to the French, Burgundians and than finally in 1032 it became a part of the German Empire. The 14th century was rather ambiguous for Basel. Its liberation from its Episcopal overlords gave it freedom and authority. Nevertheless Basel kept the bishops crook in its coat of arms. The 14th century was also a time of great trials for Basel. The Black Death, followed in 1356 by a severe earthquake, overtook the city.
A significant historic moment for Basel was the Great Council of Christendom that was held in the city from 1431 to 1448. That was an event that brought the city to world attention. As a result followed the establishment of Basel's university, officially opened in 1460. It is currently the oldest University North of the Alps. During the following centuries Basel continued to develop as both science and economy centre. Then finally in 1501, the city joined the Swiss confederation.
Nowadays Basel combines international style with the charm, intimacy and esprit of a small town. Often referred to as a 'pocket-sized metropolis' Basel is a dynamic business centre, a city of arts, science and culture. It is a home to people from about 150 nations. As Switzerland is famous for its tolerant people, Basel promotes peaceful co-existence and develops an active integration policy. A large number of key companies have their headquarters in Basel among which the seat of the Bank for International Settlements, BIS.
Elegantly positioned on the bend of Rhine, Basel provides the visitors with a number of beautiful sights and attractions. In this cosmopolitan city there is something for everyone. Whether you want to visit museums, enjoy modern architecture, historic churches and buildings or simply mingle with people in restaurants and pubs, Basel has it all. A favourite tourist spot is the Rhine River where one can take a boat trip. Particularly interesting is the Old Town of Basel where you can visit the Old City Gates, known as the Spalentor constructed in the end of 14th Century. A must see is Munster Cathedral. It is one of the most prominent spots in the city and the place where Erasmus was buried. Other places of interest include the red City Hall, which was erected in 1507-13 to mark Basel's acceptance into the Swiss Confederation.
Many international events take place annually in Basel. The excellent city infrastructure and the presence of Switzerland?s biggest trade fair and congress company, MCH Messe Schweiz, make Basel a regular host of the international watch and jewellery, art and sporting communities. Visitors are able to find a remarkable diversity of first-rate hotels, dining venues and leisure opportunities within the city.