The BASEL MINSTER (German: Basler Münster) is one of the main
landmarks and tourist attractions of the
* 1 Building history
* 1.1 Early structures * 1.2 Second church structure - the Heinrich Münster * 1.3 Third church structure - late Romanesque
* 2 Important historical events
* 2.1 Pope\'s Election at
* 3 Architecture
* 3.1 Georgsturm and Martinsturm
* 3.2 Main
* 4 Uses * 5 Burials * 6 Gallery * 7 References * 8 Footnotes * 9 External links
Murus Gallicus near the Minster
The hill on which the Minster is located today was already a building site in the late Celtic Era in first century BC. A pre-Roman rampart ( Murus Gallicus ) was uncovered during archeological excavations. Both gate constructions and the historical run of the street can be partly retraced. This road parted at today's position of the Minster where once assumedly was a small temple which later was replaced by a Roman fort .
The first bishop of
SECOND CHURCH STRUCTURE - THE HEINRICH MüNSTER
Design for organ shutters for
Built on the old foundations of the Haito Minster some time after the
turn of the first millennium a new building in the early Romanesque
style of the Ottonian period was built by order of Bishop Adalberto II
(approx. 999 - 1025). Sometimes called “Adalberto Cathedral”, the
three-nave cathedral is actually named after its patron Emperor Henry
II , in German “Heinrich”. The cathedral is dedicated to Henry II
and his wife Kunigunde . The bishop governed the city as
representative of the Emperor who gained possession of
Excavations from 1973-1974 prove that the crypt of this building, consecrated in 1019, had not been expanded. At the end of the 11th century a tower made of light-colored limestone and molasse was erected on the western side of the building. This historic structure remains forming the bottom part of the north tower (Georgsturm) today. Heinrich Minster did not possess a tower on the south side.
THIRD CHURCH STRUCTURE - LATE ROMANESQUE
The building as it stands today dates back for the most part to the late Romanesque building constructed in the last third of the 12th century and completed around 1225. On the foundations of the previous buildings a church with three naves and a transept was built. The western facade was finished sometime in the latter part of the 13th century. A third storey was added to Georgsturm, and the Martinsturm was started.
Even though supported by massive pillars , an earthquake in 1356
destroyed five towers, the choir and various vaults . Johannes von
Gmünd , who was also the architect of Freiburg Minster, rebuilt the
damaged cathedral and in 1363 the main altar was consecrated. In 1421
Ulrich von Ensingen , who constructed the towers of the minsters in
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS
POPE\'S ELECTION AT BASEL CATHEDRAL
Antipope Felix V
Pope Martin V informed Basel’s government that their city
has been chosen to be the site of the next council. The main goal of
the meetings held by
DESTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS PAINTINGS
During the iconoclasm of the
A group of 40 armed men is said to have ascended to the minster from
the crowded market place at approximately 1 pm on 9 February 1529.
After a first attack on the church, during which an altarpiece was
tipped over and smashed, they departed for reinforcements. The
chaplains took the opportunity to lock the gates of the minster. The
returning mob of 200 loud and rowdy men assaulted and finally smashed
through the barrier. Once inside the church they destroyed altars,
crucifixes , and images of the Virgin Mary and saints. In the course
of the afternoon the iconoclasm extended to other churches in
The impressive treasure of the minster was saved and remained
complete until the Canton of
GEORGSTURM AND MARTINSTURM
Martinsturm (62.7 m) and Georgsturm (64.2 m)
The main front which points at the west is bestrided by two towers. The northern tower is called Georgsturm (64.2 m) and the southern tower is called Martinsturm (62.7 m). The towers are named after Georg and Martin , saints of the knights. Copies of both saints are portrayed by corresponding equestrian sculptures next to the main entrance upon high pilasters below the particular towers. The statue of Holy Martin originated from the year 1340; today, the archetype can be found in the Klingentalmuseum . A mechanic clock and a sundial are located above the archetype. It is remarkable that the sundial of the Basler Münster shows the “wrong time” due to the Basler Zeit . Below the Georgsturm a monumental picture (1372) can be found which shows knight Georg fighting against a remarkably small dragon.
After a heavy earthquake in 1356 the Münster, which originally had
five steeples , was reconstructed with only two steeples remaining. At
the older Georgsturm, the lower brighter part that has remained
untouched, can still be seen. In 1500 a gorgeous finial was put on top
of the Martinsturm. By using the steep spiral stairs in the southern
steeple it is possible to see the old church clock from 1883. The
belfry is situated in between the two steeples which are connected
through a gallery. Georgturm and Martinsturm can both be accessed by
242 stairs. From there one can get an overwhelming view of the city of
Both of the steeples consist of three lower, undivided storeys and several Freigeschosse . The two lower storeys are simple and block-like. The steeples’ upper storeys soar up the tracery gallery. As those were not constructed simultaneously, they differ slightly in their outer appearance. In contrast to the southern steeple, the octagonally cross-sectioned steeple and the steeple topping attach only over a rectangle storey at the northern steeple. Comparable to the Freiburger Münster, lank Fialentürme project at the corners of the octagons.
The benefactor Henry II at the main entrance
An empty column, which originally carried a statue of the Virgin
Mary, is situated between the doors of the main porch . As it is
typical of many other Gothic church porches, the tympanum above is
likely to have depicted the Last Judgement. Both were destroyed during
the Reformation Era. In contrast, the curvatures depicting prophets
and kings, roses, dancing angels and
The benefactors Henry II and his wife, Empress Kunigunde, are portrayed left of the main porch. In the portrait, the emperor, depicted as a surprisingly young and beardless man, is carrying a church model in his arms, which identifies him as the benefactor. Only after the renovation of the exterior (1880 – 1980), the empress was given a cross as another symbol of identification. Originally, she was carrying gloves.
On the right one can see the pictures of a seducer (“Prince of this World") and a misguided virgin.
While the virgin smiles and starts to undress, toads and snakes crawl in the back of the seducer. They should embody the evil. The image dates back to roughly 1280. The statues and brickwork of the cathedral consist of red sandstone which was found in Wiesental and Degerfelden .
Coat of arms of the Diocese of
Until the Reformation, the
On 9 February 1529, all religious images were removed from the
cathedral and the Minster became the main congregation in the city of
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* Except for some text in the introductory paragraph, this article is a translation of the German language article.
* ^ Swiss