Basel reaches for new heights

5th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

St Jakob's Stadium is about to see its finest hour as it hosts the opening match of the Euro 2008 tournament.

St Jakob's Stadium is about to see its finest hour as it hosts the opening match of the Euro 2008 tournament.

The home of FC Basel, it is somewhat fitting that it was designed by world-famous Basle architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. The award-winning pair were born in the city and their latest achievements include China's Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games and the Tate Museum of Modern Art in London.

Now they are about to move onto bigger if not necessarily better things. In 2010 they are due to unveil Roche Tower which at 160 metres tall is due to snatch the title of Switzerland's tallest building from Basle rival the Messeturm (105 metres).

Basle, in the north-west of the country, is a stone's throw from both France and Germany, lying between the Swiss Jura and the Black Forest. Boasting the warmest climate in Switzerland, with the least fog and rain, it is described as positively Mediterranean. The Rhine splits the city in two and locals refer to its banks as the Riviera; an enticement to people to swim in summer.

Switzerland's oldest University was founded here in 1460 and is where the Dutch celebrated philosopher Erasmus tutored in the 1520s and 30s.

The city prospered from its location on the Rhine where a 13th century bridge ensured it was a major crossing point for long distance trade between northern and southern Europe and beyond.

A thriving medieval textile business laid the foundations for today's major chemical and pharmaceutical industries that include companies Novartis and Roche.

Referred to as the architectural capital, even the 16th century Rathaus is an eye-catching red, built in sandstone. The 11th century Cathedral (Muenster) dominates the skyline and the terrace behind it high above the Rhine offers some of the best views across the Old Town. The Old Town is awash with expensive boutiques and other stores and is also the focus of nightlife.

However if it is post-match shopping the fans want, they may find the city's largest shopping centre incorporated into St Jakob's Stadium a tad more convenient. If they would rather buy art then, coincidentally, Europe's largest art fair, Art Basel 2008, is open until June 8 at the Swiss Exhibition Centre.

DPA  2007

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