The ancient university and trading city of Basel, bestride the Rhine between the Jura, Alsace in France and Germany’s Black Forest, and is the centre of art and research. During the 3 days of the Basler Fasnacht (a pre-Lenten carnival), no serious sightseeing should or can be done, as visitors are required to take part in the grand masked parties and street parades with fancy costumes. There is a Fasnacht Fountain in front of the City Theatre.
The collection in the Art Museum ranges from Cranach and Holbein via Rembrandt to Monet, Max Ernst and Picasso. In the old city centre stands the ancient red sandstone cathedral or Münster (parts date from the 9th to 13th century). Its tower affords extraordinary city panorama.
Other sights include the Spalentor (1370), one of the original city wall’s 3 remaining towers, and the Church of St Peter (15th century). Further away from the town, mountain paths zigzag up the Jura mountains.
Although northern Switzerland is not one of the main tourist areas, there are a few well-known holiday resorts beyond Basel, one of which is the picturesque Solothurn where the prevailing architectural styles are Renaissance and Baroque.
Day trips to Aarau, Baden and the 13th century moated castle at Binningen, is also recommended. During winter months, the main sport in the Jura mountains is cross-country skiing.