Switzerland is a central European country that is bordered by France, Germany, and Italy. The location of Basel, in the northwest corner of the country, allows visitors to take fantastic day trips to neighboring countries as well as other parts of Switzerland.
Starting in the 1st century B.C., the land that is now Switzerland was ruled by the Roman Empire for 500 years. It was a time of plenty with roads being built and trade coming and going throughout the land.
Things would change around 800 A.D. when the Frankish Empire took control of Switzerland under Charlemagne. For almost 500 years, Switzerland was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Switzerland took its’ first steps towards becoming an independent nation in 1291 when the three significant cantons of the area (the Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden families) signed the charter creating the Swiss Confederation. It was initially created as a defensive alliance, and other localities in the area would join the alliance over time.
Finally, in 1499, The Swiss Confederation gained its complete independence from the Holy Roman Empire. This land would remain a confederation until the official constitution was drafted in 1848 (ratified in 1874). This constitution would give Switzerland its’ first centralized federal government.
Switzerland is a unique country when it comes to its politics. It is not a member of the European Union, nor is it a member of NATO. It is considered an armed neutral country. It didn’t play any role in either of the World Wars. It is a member of the United Nations and other international organizations
A host of great possibilities for you to explore Switzerland
Here are some great ways you can expand your trip to Basel by taking a few day trips.
Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg
The location of this French castle offers visitors an incredible view of the Upper Rhine Plains as it sits atop the mountainous terrain that surrounds it. This castle dates as far back as the 12 th century, and it is a beautiful way to see this area of Europe. The best part is that it is only about an hour away from Basel, and it allows you to fit a little bit of France into your trip without having to plan a large excursion.
This castle is in a region that sits atop the mountainous terrain. Rotteln Castle is located near Lorrach, Germany, just across the German border. Unlike Koenigsbourg, Rotteln has not been repaired, and it lies in mostly ruin. The tower is still easily accessible, and it gives visitors another excellent way to see this region. It is the perfect place for hiking and soaking in the forested scenery of the European interior.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and visiting there is like stepping back into Medieval times.
You would never think that this is the capital as you meander through the winding streets of the old town as it maintains its antique appeal and tranquility. Bern is just a short train ride from Basel, and it should be on your list of places to go and see while you are in Switzerland.
Before traveling to Basel, do a little bit of research and plan out an itinerary that allows you to maximize your time and your experiences. You do not have to limit your trip to Basel itself as this entire region has so much to offer visitors. The best part about traveling to Europe is that it is effortless to get around from place to place and even country to country. Just because you are going to Basel doesn’t mean you can’t go to other parts of Switzerland, France, Germany, or even northern Italy.
Foods To Try While in Switzerland
All the cheeses
Leeks with potatoes and sausage
Basel-style roasted flour soup
Polenta and braised beef
Veal and Mushroom Ragout
Vacherin Mont D’Or