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Places of interests in Basel, Regio and Interregio – Part 1: Basel

Picturesque Basel – Sankt Alban – “My favourite walk” To safeguard the much vaunted work-life balance, we need times when we can really switch off and enjoy ourselves in a pleasant, homely environment. Today, we are therefore starting a new series describing such highly personal “resource places.”


e begin our short walk at the Zschokke Fountain, right next to the museum of art. Designed in 1941, the three figures above the cascading water represent the three ages of life: childhood, adolescence and old age. Now we cross Dufourstrasse and enter the marvellous St-Alban-Vorstadt. We enjoy the sight of the magnificent buildings dating from the Gothic and Baroque periods and venture a glance into the dreamy interior courtyard of House no. 52. The splashing fountain creates the impression that we have strayed into a patio in Seville. Awoken from our dream, we find ourselves back again on the street immediately in front of one of the six surviving “Basler Dybli” (dove-style) letter boxes from the year 1844. From here, we catch sight of the restaurant St.Alban-Eck (at the corner of Malzgasse). The first floor features the meeting room of the Zunft zum Himmel (Heavenly Guild) to which the artist Hans Holbein once belonged. Now, we turn back to Schöneck Fountain, at the point where the Mühleberg branches off from St. Alban-Vorstadt. The house “zum hohen Dolder” was built here in 1502. It is home to a magnificently painted gothic wooden ceiling. Now, we stroll down the Mühleberg and immerse ourselves directly in the high medieval period after entering the old Sankt Alban Monastery cemetery on the right. Here, I like to sit down on a little bench under the tall chestnut trees and read tales which fit in well with this slightly scary place. They take the reader to Dartmoor in England. Tales of the dance of death which was performed until recently in these gardens also make fitting reading. After the goose pimples Info September 2006

have gone and with our energies revived, we look left from the church entrance towards the part of the monastery cloisters which has survived; the 20 Romanesque arches from the year 1083 are among the oldest surviving buildings in Switzerland! You can easily imagine watching the Cluny monks as they exercise in the cloisters. This was also the place where Basel’s famous painter, Arnold Böcklin, grew up. We now continue round the simple gothic church, across an arm of the Sankt Alban Pond, past the youth hostel (formerly Sarasin’s silk ribbon factory) to the picturesque little square in front of the Schindelhof. This is where wooden shingles and water pipes were once made; the city fountain master also lived here. Just round the corner from this house, we come upon the Pfefferhof and our gaze stretches out on the right across the arm of the pond between the medieval walls and further on downwards. Here, we breathe a touch of the unmistakable air of Venice without leaving our own home town. The little bridge over another arm of the pond takes us to the preserved part of the city wall, the Letzimauer with the Letzi Tower. We owe the good state of preservation of the wall, as indeed that of the whole district (including some bold new buildings)

to the Christoph Merian Foundation. Now it is time to follow the wall on towards the River Rhine and the Paper Museum. From our vantage point on the bridge, we can watch the great water wheel powered by the Sankt Alban Dych. The house on the right (with a restaurant) is the Gallician Mill, the oldest dwelling house in this district. Its pendant on the left (with the entrance to the Museum) is the Stegreif Mill which has been completely rebuilt (by the Christoph Merian Foundation). The two imposing houses with the wooden wheel separated by the pond still give us a good impression of the important role once played here by the craft trades and water power. Activities ranged from shingle making, sawing, forging, floating, weaving, dyeing and tobacco processing to paper making – which became a key activity here after the Council of Basel. Now we have certainly merited a little refreshment and it is time to enter one of the taverns (ranging from imposing to original). The distinctive feature of the Golden Star on whose terrace you can let yourself be carried away into a warm mood of Provence under the spreading chestnut trees, is that it was transferred stone by stone to its present site from its original location in the Aeschenvorstadt. Refreshed, we now move on to the Museum of Contemporary Art which embodies a unique combination of old and new architectural features. As a particularly worthwhile tip, I would recommend its roof terrace from which the whole area that we have visited can now be admired from on high. After leaving the museum, a short visit to the Kneipp Fountain on the left is called for. We can soak our arms in the cool spring water and leave the Sankt Alban district on the most modern of the four Rhine ferries, suitably refreshed and relaxed. On reaching the bank of the Rhine in Kleinbasel, we enjoy the last and finest view of the magnificent “Dalbeloch.”

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Sights worth seeing in Basel, the Regio and Interregio, 2nd contribution

The ruins of Landskron Castle The Landskron ruin is one of those places where history becomes perceptible and you might easily write further chapters yourself. Although the ruin is freely accessible and occupies a dominant position directly on the frontier between France and Switzerland, the route by which visitors reach Landskron is an adventure in its own right.


een from Birstal Valley, this is a rectangular tower dominating the trees on Landskron Mountain. From the road leading from Hofstetten to Mariastein, the exposed side on the rocky promontory with its restored residential tower and the damaged powder tower are clearly visible. Between them lie the ruins of the big bastion whose windows now look out into vacant space. The history of the castle began in 1297 when “monks” built the fortress here. Following the strengthening by Emperor Maximilian in the years 1515 to 1518, Vauban was commissioned in 1690 to extend and reinforce the castle to accommodate up to 300 persons. A picture of the Landskron hangs in the Mariastein Monastery Church. Alongside the Landskron as it was in 1543, the story of the demise of Junker Thüring Reich von Reichenstein in 1541 as he fell over the Mariastein rocks is also recorded. In 1813 the fortress was seized by the Bavarians and Austrians from the French and blown up following a fire. In 1857 the family of the Barons of Reinach acquired the ruins. After being elevated to the status of a classified historic monument in 1923, monkeys were kept on the ruin for some ten years in around 1970. The Pro Landskron Association acquired the ruin in 1984 and set about its conservation and restoration with a great deal of commitment and financial resources. On the last fine Sunday afternoon in September, I had an opportunity, with a retired colleague,

to visit his vineyard located right below the ruin. On this particular day the Riesling-Silvaner, Chasselas, Blue Burgundy, Pinot Auxerrois and Färber grapes were still in very good condition. The refractometor showed an alcoholic strength of 10.2%. After leaving the vineyard, we climbed up to the castle together. Here, he recalled his youth in Tannwald (a district of Leimen), where his playground included the whole castle area over a length of some 500 metres. We took the track which has now been paved with stones from Basel to circle up and reach the castle where we climbed the residential tower by the spiral staircase. The staircase leading up to this tower in semidarkness made our hearts beat loud (from fear or effort?) until we reached the open platform on the tower. On clear days you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Vosges Mountains across the Black Forest to the Jura. Down below lies the Leimental Valley leading to Basel and the great Rhine Basin. This view is also recorded in a newly installed panoramic display. Down in the Tannwald, your gaze is attracted back to the place you have come from. We are both looking forward to our next visit. I am grateful to Max Wyss for his spontaneous assistance! Further information for people with an interest in historical details: Association for the Conservation of Landskron, Pro Landskron Guided tours can be arranged by: Max Wyss, 0033 389 68 53 40. How to reach the Landskron Important: you will need valid identity papers and strong shoes! – Flüh, marked trail leading steeply up to the Landskron ruin, about 1 hour on foot – Mariastein, marked trail leading to the Landskron ruin, about 1 hour on foot – Leimen, tram station, pedestrian route marked via the madeup road Access to the restaurant in Tannwald possible by car. Very good public transport service: Tram line No. 10 to Flüh or Leimen, bus line to Hofstetten/Mariastein One last request The castle has been damaged enough. Please take great care even if children like reliving the middle ages! I do hope you enjoy your strenuous visit to the Landskron

Peter Bernauer, member of the NAV-board

Info Dezember 2006

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Things to see in Basel, Regio and Interregio – Part 3: Germany

A “homage” to Holzen in the Kandertal Valley The little village of Holzen, set in the attractive landscape of South Baden, invites visitors to stay a while. Anyone who takes a little time to stroll through the village will be astonished by the many little attractive features which Holzen has to offer.


olzen, with barely 600 inhabitants, lies on the sunny hills of the Markgräflerland district, in the extreme South-Western corner of Germany. Holzen is in fact now part of Kandern local authority in the provincial district of Lörrach. The Kandertal Valley with its picturesque little villages, separated by extensive fields, vineyards, soft fruit growing farms, the castle of Bürgeln and the Kandertal railway offers a host of interesting sights. In the summer months, you can visit the Kandertal by steam train every Sunday. The “Chanderli,” as the Kandertal railway is known locally in popular parlance, was opened in 1895 and closed again in 1983. After the formation of the Museum Railway Association, the steam train was reopened in 1986. The Kandertal railway runs from Haltingen on a 13 km stretch of line through the Kandertal to the heart of the valley at Kandern, at the foot of Hochblauen mountain. Kandern is well-known as a town of pretzel makers and potters. Through its famous former inhabitant Johann August Sutter, who went on to live in the Basel area before moving to the USA, close contacts are maintained with Sacramento, a city of some 400,000 inhabitants, not far from San Francisco. Holzen, the village of storks, is a jewel in the Kandertal. Since 1974, this parish has been part of the town of Kandern. The first written mention of Holzen dates back to the year 1249. That reference will be found in an ancient deed which is kept in Saint Alban’s Monastery in Basel. The Celts are already said to have lived in a settlement close to the present Holzen where they extracted mineral ores. That is suggested by

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the ancient mine workings not far from the present Holzen. Perhaps the Romans, who are believed to have operated mines in this area, also came here. The highway running from Kandern via Hammerstein to Holzen was certainly built by the Romans. Holzen, the village of storks, set amid an attractive and peaceful landscape, has plenty of treasures to its name. The many storks who proudly defy the winds in their nests on the church tower or on the house gables are just one of them. In the village, there is a stork park where a daily feeding session can be watched. Nowa-

days, many storks spend the whole winter in Holzen. The sound of their “chatteringâ€? can be heard everywhere in the meadows and on the roofs. Many occupied nests can be seen on church towers in the environs of Holzen and Tannenkirch, Mappach, Efringen-Kirchen and Märkt. The craft trades are pursued busily in Holzen. Pottery is well-known and popular and an active business in the main town of Kandern and also in Holzen. On our stroll through the carefully preserved but also varied, interesting and peaceful village, we can admire masterpieces in the Red House Pottery.

On our walk to the pottery, we pass a house where you can hear a witch talking for a 50 euro cent! She tells of a stork who collided with a hot air balloon in Holzen. Art takes pride of place in Holzen. There is even a university for senior citizens in this little locality in South Baden. This private establishment of higher education encourages senior citizens to follow courses of further scientific training. Through a fusion between the natural and philosophical sciences and the arts, the idea is to revive aesthetics in Holzen in its original form as a theory. The inten-

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Sights worth seeing in Basel, the Regio and Interregio, Part 4: Germany

The “Sauschwänzle” railway For 30 years now passengers have again been able to travel by “steam railway” from Zollhaus-Blumberg to Weizen and back again. This line was part of the military railway link opened in 1890 from Bavaria to Mulhouse in Alsace without passing through Swiss territory.


ther parts of this line are used today as bridge pillars (Palmrain road bridge Weil–Huningue) or else have been closed down (Schopfheim–Wehr–Bad Säckingen). The line running along the Swiss frontier from Waldshut to Tuttlingen was still classified until 1975 by NATO as militarily important and therefore properly maintained. The bridge structures were designed from the outset for twin-track operation, but now only carry a single track. This line was not much used by local residents and for freight transport; it was therefore closed by the German Federal Railways in 1975. Since 1977, museum trains have been run at weekends, operated as the Wutachtal railway, on the Zollhaus-Blumberg to Weizen section. The railway depot is at Fützen. A number of hiking trails along the railway line are signposted. Normally, a tender locomotive hauls a train of veteran second class German and Swiss passenger carriages. Other compositions can also be encountered on this line from time to time. The journey from Zollhaus-Blumberg to Weizen, through the hilly landscape on the railway line laid out in the shape of a “pig’s tail” (Sauschwänzle) with bridges, viaducts and reversing tunnel lasts around 58 minutes. Children and adults alike are fascinated. The easy gradient of the line is striking; it was designed for low-powered locomotives with ordinary trains. The line therefore had to be longer than usual to overcome the height difference of 503 metres. That is apparent today in the elegant civil engineering works and embankments on which the railway crosses villages and low-lying land. The view from the train is magnificent (watch out for soot particles!). But trainspotting along the track is also great fun and readily possible. The museum at Zollhaus-Blumberg helps visitors to immerse themselves into the history of the railway.

Information to plan an excursion on the “Sauschwänzle” railway available from Internet: Ticket prices in euro: return/single


Adults: EUR 14,–/11,–, Children EUR 7,–/5,–, Family with children above the age of 4 EUR 35,–/26,– Map: Leisure map 509 Waldshut-Tiengen, Baden-Württemberg Provincial Survey Office, 1:50,000

Wutachtal railway Full service until 3.10.2007 (until 21.10.2007 not all the trains are still running!): Saturdays and Sundays (10:00 departs Zollhaus-Blumberg) and return from Weizen (11:30) Also Sundays (14:05 departs Zollhaus-Blumberg) and return from Weizen (15:40) Vehicular access (Waldshut–Blumberg road B314) Car parking space for passengers at Weizen station and also possible at the other stations Railway On Sundays, the Baden-Württemberg card is valid for DB feeder trains Waldshut depart 9:55

Weizen arrive 11:03

Weizen depart 11:55

Waldshut arrive 12:35

Waldshut depart 13:55

Weizen arrive 15:03

Weizen depart 15.15

Waldshut arrive 16:35

Prices Baden-Württemberg card EUR 27,– (up to 5 persons) and single EUR 18,– (at the ticket counter + EUR 2,–) This card is not valid for the Wutachtal railway as such (Sauschwänzle!) Final note: when I travelled, the train was very full. A telephone enquiry may therefore be useful! Have a nice trip

Peter Bernauer

Info August 2007

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Sights worth seeing in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – Part 5, Basel

The Water Tower on the Bruderholz In 1926, the Water Tower on the Bruderholz was built as a pressure equalizing reservoir to supply water to the city of Basel; this tower can be accessed by visitors and has a viewing platform.


ut before taking a closer look at the water tower, let us turn back the wheel of time, in fact to the year 1250. That was when the first simple fountains were built at the MĂźnster and Spalenwerk to provide a public water supply (the water came from the Holee and Bruderholz springs). This made Basel the first Swiss city to have a public water supply. In 1866, the first pressurized water supply to the houses in Basel City was opened via pipes from the Bruderholz. 1879: the Basel gas and waterworks were set up and ground water first used at the Lange Erlen. In

1903, the new Bruderholz reservoir with a capacity of 14,000 m3 was completed. In 1926, the Water Tower on the Bruderholz was commissioned with a ground level and tower reservoir. The reservoirs are designed to maintain pressure and balance out daily variations in water consumption. The reservoirs used for this purpose have a total capacity of 38,500 m3. They are located at Allschwil, the Wenkenhof at Riehen and also on the Bruderholz itself. The Water Tower is used as a high level supply to the areas lying at a higher altitude. The Water Tower contains two elevated zones with a combined capacity of some 820 m3. In 2001, the Water Tower was refurbished and new external lighting installed. What makes the Water Tower so special? It is accessible to everyone without prior appointment. It is opened in the morning and closed again at dusk. In the interven-

ing hours, anyone can pass through the turnstile and gain access to the tower in return for a small contribution of one franc per person. Then, you can take one of the two stone stairways along the external wall to reach the first platform. From this platform a narrow spiral staircase leads further up until you reach the viewing level. This viewing platform is 32 meters above the ground or 150 meters above the level of the Rhine, equivalent to 397 meters above sea level. Here, the visitor can walk right round the tower and enjoy the view over an extensive region. In fine, clear weather the panorama is stunning! How to reach the Water Tower I advise you to use public transport. Take the number 15 tram to the Airolostrasse stop and then walk along the Water Tower promenade until you reach the foot of this symbol of the Bruderholz in around 10 minutes. In fine weather, with a clear view, you and your family will enjoy this unforgettable excursion. Opening hours April to September October to March

8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Daniel Linder, vice president

Info Dezember 2007

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Sights worth seeing in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – Part 6, Alsace, France

The Romanesque abbey church in Ottmarsheim The church in Ottmarsheim was built in the 11th century on the model of the Palatinate Chapel in Aix-La-Chapelle. Together with other buildings in the Upper Rhine flood plain, it is a fine example of this style of building. The interior can be visited at the weekend and features an octagonal space with outstanding acoustics and frescoes.


ttmarsheim is situated close to the Rhine on the old Roman highway from Augst (Basel) to Strasbourg. The name is said to be derived from Abbot Otmar of St Gallen who introduced the Benedictine order here in the year 720 or thereabouts. St Gallen monastery owned land near what is now Ottmarsheim and in many other places. In 1030, the Habsburger Rudolf von Altenburg and his wife Kunigunde founded the Benedictine monastery of Ottmarsheim for which the abbey church was also built. When the monastery was nationalized in 1792, the parish was able to buy the abbey church built in the 11th century for use as a parish church and so saved it from demolition. All the monastery buildings were pulled down; only the guest house built in 1711 was kept for use as the gendarmerie barracks. The history of the church tells of the “punitive expedition“ by the people of Basel against Habsburg in 1272, the civil war of 1525, the plundering incursions by the Swedes in the 30year war between 1618 and 1648 and many other events in the course of which serious damage occurred. For me, a visit to this Romanesque church brings back many memories. As a model of an octagonal Romanesque building, we were asked to draw a plan of its layout in our history exercise book at school; in the history of the Habsburgers, it is a landmark of the Upper Rhine basin; I first visited the monument on a cycle tour of Alsace fifty years ago. Later I was shocked by the fire which damaged the church in 1991 and delighted by my first visit after the successful restoration.

The church itself makes an elegant and impressive sight in the center of the locality of Ottmarsheim. The tower and some other rooms have been built around the octagonal body of the church and create a distinctive outline, especially when the building is viewed from the south. From the west, the tower with the main entrance stands in front of the whole complex. The interior space with the round arches and cloisters has

wonderful acoustics, while the windows create a wonderful play of light inside the building. The frescoes and other details leave plenty of scope for personal discoveries … Anyone who is interested will find a great deal of information and pictorial material on the Internet. But no descriptions, however long, can replace a personal visit to this church. The building is readily accessible by cycle or car. A meal was impossible to come by in Ottmarsheim itself on Sunday as all the restaurants were closed. However, the church itself was open in the afternoon and that, after all, was the reason for our visit to this old familiar place!

Peter Bernauer

info März 2008

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Things to see in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – 7th contribution from the Jura, Switzerland

The City of Delémont, also known as Delsberg When you travel by rail from Basel via Delémont to the French-speaking part of Switzerland, your train always stops in Delémont to change direction. But a tour of the old city will soon convince you that Delémont is worth far more than just a brief stop.


he railway station is a historic monument which has been enhanced by the fountains playing in the forecourt. The hiking path (yellow signs) leads across an old stone bridge over the River Sorne to the old city. The distinctive tower of StMarcel’s Church can be seen from all sides, standing watch like a guardian and telling the time to all comers. The Wolfstor (Wolf Gate) and the Pruntrut Gate still protect the roads leading to the old city. At its heart, beautiful narrow streets and open squares await us, together with the Palace of the Prince Bishop, the building which houses the Parliament of Jura Canton and five beautiful fountains in the Renaissance style dating from the 16th century. In the Vorbourg, we come across StImier Chapel built in 1586 with the stat-

ue of the Virgin Mary dating from 1869; this has remained a popular destination for pilgrimages, even after the Kulturkampf or religious struggles. Limestone as a building material gives the cities and villages in the Jura their typical appearance; clean but also hot in summer and defiantly robust in the winter cold. But the people of the Jura like to live out in the streets. When I visited the town on Saturday, the market and flea market were in full swing. Everything was on sale, ranging from Jura cheese, through items from the desert, Asian menus and flowers to articles enticingly laid out for visitors to inspect in the flea market. A meal in the Restaurant La Croix on the Place Roland-Béguelin was delicious and visitors were able to reminisce on the separation from Bern Canton not so long

ago in the year 1979 with all its accompanying controversy. This put an end to the affiliation of much of the Basel bishopric to Bern which had been decided at the Congress of Vienna back in 1815. Iron was smelted in Delémont long ago. When I was an apprentice we could visit the Von Roll foundry at the Rondez works. Today, you can still see the moulds in which so many of the manhole covers on Swiss streets were cast. Not far away is the circular locomotive depot (known as La Rotonde) with its two turntables, old carriages and locomotives from the days between 1875 up to 1920. They are being carefully restored and will soon be on the rails again as a complete train. Some exhibits are always on display here at a branch of the Swiss Museum of Transport along with material belonging to the HEG (Historical Railway Society). The Rotonde is open to visitors on just a few days each year. The fact that the people of the Jura are still proud of their metal-processing works is amply demonstrated by the locally produced Wenger knife which was of course provided for guests to cut their pizza and steak. A city which has taken great care of its image and radiates the flair of French-speaking Switzerland with its inhabitants who love life, was justifiably rewarded with the Wakker Prize in 2006. There is a good train service to Delémont from Basel. Road access is also easy. Hikes from and to Delémont can easily be arranged. Information on meals: La Croix Restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. until 11.30 p.m.. Sunday from 5 p.m. only. Closed on Monday!

Peter Bernauer Information about Delémont / Delsberg can be found on the Internet (Information about Delémont) (Rotonde, locomotive depot) Marché aux puces (flea market) 5.7., 2.8. and 6.9.2008

info Juni 2008

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Things to see in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – 8th contribution: Kaysersberg in Alsace

Kaysersberg in Alsace – birthplace of a Nobel prize winner Kaysersberg lies on the Route du Vin, at the heart of the Alsatian vineyards, some 10 km northeast of Colmar. This historically important village is the best-known locality on the Route du Vin along with Eguisheim and Riquewihr. But wine is not the only thing which makes Kaysersberg a popular excursion destination. The world-famous Nobel peace prize winner Albert Schweitzer was born here in 1875.


aysersberg is a typical small town of this region with a population of around 3,500. The picturesque locality with its medieval atmosphere invites visitors to linger. The half-timbered houses built in the 16th and 17th centuries are well tended and colorful. Some of the roofs have brightly colored patterns, while the facades, windows and balconies are decked out with attractive greenery. Kaysersberg is also known far and wide for its truly romantic Christmas market. Artistic wrought iron signs remind passers-by of local crafts, vintners and taverns. In the early 19th century, Kaysersberg was home to weaving and spinning mills. Today, just two major employers remain, a paper mill and the Alcon company (now part of Novartis) which manufactures products here for contact lens wearers. Kaysersberg owes its existence to Emperor Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen, who arranged for a bulwark to be built here at a strategically important location above the narrow valley to command the military route from Lorraine to the Rhine. This locality was mentioned for the first time in the records in 1227 when Heinrich VII, the son of Friedrich II, acquired the land rights to Kaysersberg castle which he extended into a great fortress. The

ruins of the castle which were destroyed in 1525 still tower over the city today. Also in around 1227, the Benedictines founded a priory here which became a monastery in the year 1282. Along with Colmar, Hagenau, Landau, Münster, Oberehnheim, Rosenheim, Schlettstadt, Türkheim and Weissenburg, Kaysersberg belongs to the alliance of ten cities founded in the year 1354 and known as the “Decapolis”; this alliance remained in existence until 1648. Thereafter, the city was secured with further fortress installations. Parts of the medieval city walls and towers dating from the 15th and 16th centuries have survived, including the picturesque fortress bridge, together with the “Kessler” and Witches’ Towers. In the year 1648, Kaysersberg became part of France with the Peace of Westphalia. This peace treaty signed in Münster and Osnabrück between the Emperor and France, Sweden and their allies marked the end of the Thirty Years War. But Kaysersberg was also the birthplace of the prestigious doctor Albert Schweitzer, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1954. At the age of 24 he became a doctor of philosophy and almost as a matter of course went on to take a doctorate in theology with a constant eye on the link between these two disciplines. He was a passionate organ player and dedicated to the restoration of organs. He took the irreversible decision to remain actively committed until the age of thirty to his own education and love of science and music, after which he planned to dedicate himself entirely to a purely humanitarian cause. Shortly before his thirtieth birthday, he read a monthly report of a missionary society in Paris which complained of the lack of missionaries and doctors in the French-speaking parts of Africa. Even before this, Schweitzer had heard his father speak of “the poorest of the poor” of this world and their hopeless condition. The tales told by his father had

caused him many a headache, but he had not yet established any link with his own person. However, “I had now found my own goal,” as he later wrote. Although, at the age of thirty, he was already one of the most prestigious university teachers, he began again from square one and dedicated the next few years wholeheartedly to the study of medicine. He went on to specialize in tropical diseases and started a collection to build a hospital in Lambarene (Africa). With donations and by giving a stream of concerts, he collected 5,000 dollars, enough to assure his work in Africa for two years. In 1913, Albert Schweitzer set sail for Africa and founded the Lambarene Tropical Institute in the French Congo. He had followed a vocation which came from his innermost soul and his strength resided in the ability to remain true to himself. This vocation reflected an attitude entirely devoid of self-interest and he followed without any second thought his inner urge to put into practice a Christian ethic colored by generosity and love of our neighbors; his long and thorough preparation and exceptional perseverance promoted the course of his project. Albert Schweitzer and his life’s work won many honors and in 1928 he was awarded the Goethe prize of the City of Frankfurt for his literary achievements, followed in 1951 by the peace prize of the German book trade and in 1954, the Nobel peace prize. In 1955, he was awarded the French Peace Order “Pour le Mérite.” In 1965, Albert Schweitzer died in Lambarene at the age of 90. The house where he was born at Kaysersberg in Alsace has been turned into a museum. When you visit Kaysersberg, I strongly advise you to pay a visit to the museum to learn about his life’s work. You will find it well worthwhile.

Henriette Brunner NAV Chair info September 2008

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Things to see in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – 9th contribution: Grape harvest in the Basel region

Winegrowing at Maisprach about the potential alcoholic content of the wine. The weather plays an important part here during the graperipening process. The higher the Öchsle value, the bigger the party! The next step is processing in a wine cellar. For instance, if white wine is to be produced the grapes are generally removed individually by a machine (i.e. separation of the berries from the stem) and crushed in a mill. The mixture produced in this way is called the marc or pomace. This marc is then pressed out in a wine press. This enables the grape residue to be separated from the must (sweet grape juice). The other materials (peel, seeds, stems) can later on be processed to make grappa. cquaintances of mine have their own vineyard in The must obtained in this way is now sulphited and left to ferMaisprach and it is my good fortune to help them with ment. This process (addition of a special yeast) lasts for some 6 the happy grape harvest almost every year. Winegrowto 8 days during which the sugar present in the must is converting in Maisprach is a tradition dating back for cened into alcohol. White wine ferments at 15 to 18°C and red wine turies. It was mentioned for the first time in the chronicles in at 22 to 25°C. After the fermentation process most wines have 1328. Grapes which yield fine and fruity wines with a rich bouan alcoholic content of between 8 and 13 percent by volume. quet are reported to be grown on the exposed sandstone soils After the fermentation period, when the dead yeast has sunk of Maisprach. to the bottom of the vat, it is drawn off and the remaining fluid Depending on the climatic conditions in the summer, the hartransferred to different containers. This “young wine” as it is vest begins at the end of September or rather later in October. known is now left to mature for around six months in wooden A possible date for the harvest is already set in August. The time barrels or steel tanks. During this period, the fine yeast which when the grapes are ripe for picking depends mainly on the has not sunk to the bottom of the fluid grape variety and weather conditions. In ferments and the wine breaks down proprinciple, the quality of the wine is better teins and tartaric acid salts. Depending on the longer the grapes are left on the vine Detailed information the particular variety of wine, the young and a higher Öchsle value can be wine now undergoes further processing achieved. I recall that in some years we (transfer to a new container, filtration and had to wait until the end of October other subsequent treatments). before harvesting the grapes. But that Red wine production differs essentially was always the key to an exceptional vinin the sequence of working steps. For red tage! wine the marc is fermented. Most of the winegrowers belong to wine cooperatives. That Storage of the wine (in a barrel or bottle) can have a decisive makes the harvest a cheerful village festival. The winegrowers influence on its quality and taste. White wines are often bottled and their volunteer helpers armed with their rubber gloves and after storage for only a short period and then put on the grape secateurs can be seen cutting grapes all over the vineyards market, as nowadays consumers generally prefer young and and placing them in plastic skips. The full skips are generally fresh wines. On the other hand, high-quality wines are not pushed down to the collection point on sledges or big plastic usually bottled until they have been stored for a much longer bags through the rows of vines. In good harvest years, the period. bunches of grapes can simply be snipped off but in others a In our region, the “new” wine is called “Suuser.” Many careful selection must be made. In other words, the unripe, rotAustrians refer to it as “Sturm” and some Germans simply call ten or mouldy grapes must be separated out. That is of course the fresh wine the “Neuer.” an extremely delicate task but nevertheless essential to maintain It remains for me to wish you good health! And why not go quality. The manual grape harvest is a long-standing tradition for a walk through our vineyards? You will find the experience and an experience, especially in fine autumn weather with a deliwell worthwhile! cious wine for refreshment! An added bonus is the opportunity to taste some of the fresh grapes. After all, you have to check how these grapes may taste later in a delicious local wine from the Basel domains! Sabine Zeller From the collection point in the vineyards, the grapes are NAV Executive Member taken to the village square in Maisprach where they are weighed, checked and measured. The sugar content is measured in degrees Öchsle, a unit which enables conclusions to be drawn When the evenings draw in and early autumn is upon us, winegrowers prepare for the wine harvest all over the Basel region. Each year, at the end of August, before the grape harvest proper begins, the “Wy-Erläbnis” event is held in the localities of Buus, Maisprach and Wintersingen. This is a culinary walk through the vineyards in these localities.


info November 2008

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Sights worth seeing in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – 10th contribution: From the Wiesental, Germany

The Ottilia Church on Mount Tüllingen The view points near Basel are suitable for a Sunday visit or as a starting point for longer hikes. Weather permitting, much of the Regio may be seen from here. The Ottilia Church on Mount Tüllingen is one of its most attractive features.


he residents of villages and towns around Hill Tüllingen, as the hill is known in Switzerland, best know this as being a view point above Weil’s old town center. However, on the maps, besides the settle-

ments of Untertüllingen and Obertüllingen, the only other place marked is the Käferholz in the forest on the ridge of the hill and said to have been named after the May Beetle. History tells us that in 1702 the Käferholz was the site of a battle

between Duke and General Louis Hector de Villars and the Habsburgs after he and 20,000 of his men from Hüningen had destroyed the stronghold of Friedlingen. They retreated after a force of equal strength under Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm I of Baden came against them. The 2,000 who fell in the battle are buried near the Käferholz. Nowadays we have other reasons to visit the Tüllinger Hill. The Ottilia Church on the hill can be seen for miles around and clearly shows us the way. There are

info März 2009

plenty of delightful little nooks and marvelous views to keep us occupied as we make our way through the vines, and soon we reach the top after going through the Schlipf (i.e. slip) and passing gardens. It is easy to see where the earth has moved at the bends of the roads between Weil and Tüllingen. The name of the area known as the Schlipf (which is part of the Swiss community of Riehen) is clearly derived from “schlüpfrig”, the German word for slippery, and the engineers now building the new route from Weil to Lörrach will be in no doubt of that at all. The agreement made on July 27, 1852, regarding the extension to the Baden railways allowed for the route to cross Swiss territory, and this is only now being built. We do hope though that this is not going to adversely affect any of that fine Schlipf wine! At last we see the Ottilia Church’s supporting wall rearing up before us like a well-fortified bastion. And when we get up onto the terrace in front of the chapel an absolutely stunning panorama unfolds before our eyes – not only over Basel but also of the Rhine Valley as far as the Vosges Mountains and the Jura range. Looking back, we can all but marvel at the view of the Wiesental and extending right up to the Black Forest. The chapel itself was mentioned in a letter of protection from Pope Callixtus lll for St. Blaise’s Abbey. Basel schoolchildren all learn about the legend of the three virgins St. Cristinia (St. Chrischona), St. Margaretha and St. Ottilia who, along with St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, passed Basel on their pilgrimage from England to Rome in the 5th century AD (3rd century AD, according to other sources). These three are said to have each settled and built a church on one of the hills of St. Chrischona, St. Margaretha and Tüllingen. Legend has it that candlelight glowed every evening in each of the spires as a token of the inviolate state of these virgins. One thing is sure, however, the St. Chrischona, St. Margaretha and Ottilia churches are all within sight of one another … The interior of the church is simple and bright, and we find it very conducive to spending a moment in meditation here. Before setting out on the homeward journey, however, we need to spare a thought for the route we will take as info März 2009

there is nowhere to stop for a meal anywhere near the church nor on Mount Tüllinger itself. We can either stop for a bite to eat somewhere near (Unter-) Tüllingen, or press on ahead to more distant goals such as Rötteln Castle, Öttlingen-Binzen or others. The thought of pressing on to one of these destinations brings to my mind that sound advice I received while still a youth – always carry something to drink and maybe even

some food, as the longer routes are often devoid of anywhere to quench one’s thirst. That is certainly the case here in summer up on the ridge of Mount Tüllingen. The wind may make it a great place to fly a kite, but it is also sure to leave you parched. So, let me wish you lots of fun, as you enjoy fine weather with great views.

Peter Bernauer

How to get there Black Forest Society hiking trails The church is located right on the western route that extends from the Basel Bad. Station through the Langen Erlen (with its animals) and along the Wiese River to the national border between Riehen and Weil. You can get to the same place by taking the no. 6 tram as far as the Weilstrasse stop (near the Beyeler Museum). From here it is a mere 500 meters to the Wiese River. Behind the bridge you will see a yellow sign that points the way to the Ottilia Church on Mount Tüllingen. Good hiking boots are required for this route. If your time is limited, you may choose the approx. one-hour walk from the Weilstrasse tram stop to the Ottilia Church – an ascent of 120 meters. Do check your map for other routes to suit your level of fitness and time available. Hiking maps Baden-Württemberg recreational map, sheet 508, Lörrach, 1:50,000 Map of Switzerland, sheet 213T, Laufental-Sundgau-Wiesental, 1:50,000 Direct access by car from Weil or Lörrach via (Unter-)Tüllingen to the parking area in Obertüllingen. Public transport Scheduled buses run from Lörrach. Important: The trail crosses the Swiss-German border – so it’s essential to carry your identity papers with you.

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Things to see in Basel, the Regio and Interregio – 11th contribution from Alsace, France

Ferrette, the former capital of the Sundgau Ferrette, also known as Pfirt, lies in a narrow valley in the Jura mountains, 12 km from the Swiss border in the Sundgau. Cyclists, cheese lovers and connoisseurs of the princely House of Monaco will probably be familiar with this little town already. For everyone else, an excursion brings a medieval experience and interesting panoramas.


oday two persons are in the news under the name of Ferrette or Pfirt in German: the Count of Monaco who bears the title Comte de Ferrette (Graf von Pfirt) and the “cheese whisperer” Bernard Antony. The former capital of the Sundgau is said to have been founded in the year 1105 when Hohenpfirt castle was built by the first count Frédéric de Ferrette. After his eldest daughter Jeanne married the Habsburg ruler Albert II in 1324, the county passed to the Habsburgs whose reign did not end here until 1648. History is relived at the “Fêtes Médiévales”, or medieval festivities, which are held once every two years alternating with those of Saint-Ursanne (in the Swiss Jura/July 2009). My first memories of Ferrette are linked to the brown bus operated by Transports Citroën; it ran from Ferrette to the French railway station in Basel. That image in my mind’s eye closely resembles a film by Jacques Tati: the overladen bus with luggage on the roof and a ladder at the rear. When this link was suspended in 1973 or thereabouts, I wanted to experience the same feeling again but arrived one day too late in Pfirt. I can still feel my sore feet after walking back the 12 km to Rodersdorf. Today we can park our cars directly in Ferrette or nearby. The routes takes us from the car park in front of StBernard Church and then up steeply between the houses to the Hôtel de Ville info Juni 2009

or Town Hall from which we can begin the direct ascent to the ruined castle of Hohenpfirt. The stairways lead up to the Burgweg which takes us to the viewing platform in the castle. In fine weather visitors can look out over the upper Rhine plain far away to the Black Forest, giving free rein to their thoughts. Directly beneath us lie the houses densely packed below the castle hill. Behind us we see the green hills of the Jura. Many hiking routes are well marked from the castle hill. We chose the trail leading to the Grotte des Nains or Dwarfs’ Grotto. Via the Heideflüh viewpoint which lies on a rocky outcrop to the east of the ruined castle we followed the route to the grotto. After resting at lunch on a viewpoint on the cliffs above the Grotte des Nains, we walked down through the wood to the grotto. The walls of rock constrict our route and at the foot of one such wall we come across the little cave in the rocks. Unfortunately we have not brought torches with us to explore the underground world. But the information provided on the rocks immediately in front of the grotto is interesting and a key to a different world, especially for children. The

info Juni 2009

return journey leads us around the castle hill to the barracks from which we reach the eastern entrance of Ferrette and go straight to the upper part of the town. Meanwhile, the sun has changed its position in the sky and its rays are shining on the row of houses facing the mountain. Picturesque corners and several finely decorated houses can be admired in the brilliant afternoon sun. The garden restaurants are an attractive venue, while the tunes played by the bells of the church tower clock give us a discreet reminder that it is time to start out on our journey home. After a pleasant stay, we leave Ferrette and cast a glance back from the southern heights onto the little town and the castle towering over it. Description of the route Ferrette is some 30 km south of Mulhouse, around 25 km west of Basel. We chose the road via Leymen, Wolschwiller, Sondersdorf and reached Ferrette from the south across the hill. The hiking trail from Rodersdorf to Ferrette is marked out over around 12 km. The routes leading up to the ruined Hohenpfirt castle in Ferrette are well identified and marked. Many other trails

Important The routes up to the ruined castle, the Grotte des Nains and around Ferrette pass through woodland sometimes over loose stones; good walking shoes are essential for such excursions! Hikers need to have a sure footing, especially on the smaller trails.

lead to the Grotte des Nains and other destinations through romantic rock formations and woodland. Hiking maps Club Vosgien Map N7/8 “Sud Alsace/Nord Franche-Comté/Mulhouse/Masevaux/ Belfort/Montbéliard“ 1:50,000 Swiss National Map Sheet 213T Laufental-Sundgau-Wiesental 1:50,000

Peter Bernauer

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Things to see in Basel, Regio and Interregio – 12th contribution from Basel Land Canton, Switzerland

Schönthal Monastery – where history, art and nature join up Today, we are taking you on a stroll along the southern edge of our Regio Basiliensis up into the wonderful Jura mountains close to the former Langenbruck high altitude spa.


ou reach the village on the Obere Hauenstein pass via Liestal and Waldenburg. Here you alight from the ÖV bus at the

post office and take the trail (ChräieggRundweg) towards Schönthal Monastery which you will reach in 30 minutes. If you have your own means of transport, take

the branch road for Schönthal/Bölchen in the middle of the village. Past Oskar BiderBaracke (Museum of Swiss Air Pioneers), after driving for another 5 minutes you come upon Schönthal Monastery set in a quiet wooded valley surrounded by the high fruit trees which are such a typical feature of this area. The very first encounter with this monastery reveals its unique character. info September 2009

The Romanesque western façade features a half-timbered structure, friezes and ornate decorative figures, a main portal with leaf decoration and an “Agnus Dei” representation surmounted by a round window with a knight and lion at the base and a figure at the apex symbolising the fight between good and evil. This façade is unrivalled in Baselland Canton and is a fine example of the Upper Rhenish style. As was usual in the high middle ages, a monastery was founded by a noble family at this strategically important pass. In 1145, the Counts of Froburg began construction work and the inauguration in 1187 is mentioned in the chronicles. After the Reformation, the entire domain was sold to Basel Civic Hospital and went on to be used for temporal purposes. In the 19th century, a family from Basel acquired the whole estate and treated it with loving care down the generations until it was finally placed until cantonal protection in 1966. In the annexes to the main building, you will find a smoking kitchen and a gothic wooden ceiling (the monastery refectory), hotel rooms (guest house), the historical monastery and kitchen garden and a multi-functional exhibition room (formerly the monastery church). That brings us to the no less exciting present day. Since the turn of the millennium, John Schmid has put into effect his brilliant if somewhat mad idea: in this wonderful Jura landscape he has laid out a park with contemporary works of sculpture. Here, Dear Reader, you can explore your own world of art and experience this sculpture park in an altogether original way. You are advised to start your tour in the monastery courtyard. Here you can also borrow rubber boots in wet weather. You will be handed a site plan and other literature to find your way around (open Friday to Sunday every week). For the costly maintenance of this art park, visitors are asked to pay their own contribution (CHF 10.- per person/CHF 20.- for families). My own personal favourites are “Minotaur” (by N. Hicks), “Soglio” (N.Hall), “Recovered Memory” (N.Hicks), “Twisted Oak” (D.Nash) and “Spring” (N.Hall), as well as the very latest installation in the upper Feldscheure in the valley leading to Bölchen on your right; the info September 2009

prospect from here over the entire Schönthal Valley is grandiose. The contemporary “Frames” also call attention to unexpected and interesting aspects (!

On no account miss a visit to Käthis Lädeli (by the Bölchen highway), which must surely be the smallest “Straussi” café in the whole region serving the very best “Baselbieter Rahmdääfeli”. How you could resist…? If you have come “on foot”, it is now high time to set out fully refreshed on the 45 minute walk back to Langenbruck (this time by the Römerweg which starts near the car park). Excursionists on two or four wheels can complete their day by going up to Ober-Bölchen and enjoying the sunset from the very roof of Baselland Canton before setting out on the journey back home.

Henriette Brunner

short trips into the basel area  

Kultur Wandern Kunst Natur Basel "Regio Basiliensis" Schönthal Ferrette Ottmarsheim Sauschwänzlebahn "Albert Schweizer" Kaysersberg Holzen M...

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