History was always my worst subject in school. Nothing about it ever really grabbed me and I just struggled to memorize dates and events, basically.
I know this makes me sound incredibly shallow and quite possibly uninformed.
I am happy to report, though, that more (American) history was retained in my brain than I would have guessed and that history has become marginally more interesting to me in my “old age.” Meaning I sometimes Google historical events and read up on them in order to understand current world events.
It’s like I’m an actual, functioning adult.
Another thing that will make you interested in history is moving to a city that is hundreds of years older than your native country.
Basel is so old, guys. It boggles my mind. Like… Peoria was first settled in 1680, but wasn’t officially named as Peoria until 1825. In the middle of that, the United States declared independence in 1776. The Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed a huge chunk of the city, happened in 1871.
Basel also had a tragedy that destroyed most of the city. It was a major earthquake. It happened in 1356.
That is so freaking long ago! And even with that, you can still find buildings that are like, “Oh, I was built before the earthquake and I’m still standing.”
Another thing that is tons different over here than back home in the States is that they incorporate current businesses into these old buildings.
I don’t know how old that building is, but it’s in an older part of town. I feel pretty confident that in the States, if someone wanted to build a McDonald’s, they would just tear down whatever stood in their way. Here, they find a way to fit the modern business into the existing footprint of the building and I love that.
The name Basel (Basilia) is first mentioned in 374, but there was a Roman military settlement in the area around 44 AD and Celtic ruins have been found that predate even that.
I just have a hard time wrapping my head around anything being so old, but I guess that comes from being born in such a new country. I mean, my house that was built in the late 1940s gets a surcharge on homeowner’s insurance for being old, so how could I possibly grasp such an ancient city?
Fasnacht (which I blogged about quite a bit) dates back to at least 1376. (That link also explains why Basel has its Carnival after Lent has begun, whereas most other celebrations conclude prior to Ash Wednesday. It’s so interesting!)
I could prattle off a lot of other historical facts, but that’s not particularly entertaining. Instead, I’ll just include some of the other pictures I’ve taken around Basel that give you a taste of its living history.
This is literally what I’ve always pictured in my head when someone talks about European villages. So picturesque.
One of the three remaining city gates; there used to be five.
I’ll miss seeing this piece of the old city wall almost every day, but I won’t miss climbing the stairs back up to our street.
I have absolutely no idea how old those wires are, but they’re certainly not new.
Basel’s town hall.