Lost places and insider's tips in Basel: tucked away but well worth a visit


From narrow alleyways to historic buildings, Basel has numerous spots that tell their very own story. Join us on a brief journey into the city's past and culture – we've tracked down Basel's most beautiful neglected places.


Haus zum Seilen: inspiration in picturesque surroundings

If you love creative art and enjoy capturing beautiful motifs with your camera, the Haus zum Seilen in St.-Alban-Vorstadt is the lost place to visit in Basel. The building was first mentioned in the 15th century, and was transformed into a fabulous gallery by August Balthasar Hilt in the 1970s. Over a period of 13 years, the new owner gradually created a secluded courtyard and some unique apartments. He patiently collected the special balustrades, fountain troughs, sculptures and doors from second-hand shops and condemned buildings. 

Hoosesaggmuseum – Basel's smallest museum

The Hoosesaggmuseum, or "Trouser-pocket museum" in English, is tucked away in a twisting alley off Nadelberg. The box, which is fitted into a house door, is the smallest lost place in Basel, measuring less than half a square metre. The idea of the Hoosesaggmuseum came about through necessity. A small window in the door provided a glimpse into the house, which is more than 600 years old. Troubled by the curiosity of passers-by, the family fitted a wooden box behind the window and started to display small items in it. The objects are now changed in line with the seasons, and make reference to various current world events. 

Obere Pfeffergässlein

In this charming corner of Basel's old town, Fasnacht reigns supreme. At this, the best time of year, hundreds of people in costumes squeeze through this lane, which is home to four "clique" cellars. This cul de sac once formed part of Imbergässlein, and was designated as Pfeffergässlein in 1978. The name is intended to be reminiscent of the spice trade that once flourished in this neighbourhood. Definitely one of the best insider's tips in Basel, the city of Fasnacht!


Fabulous and mystical: the Gerber fountain

Tucked away in a small niche on Gerbergasse is a lost place of which even many residents of Basel are unaware – the Gerber fountain. According to an obscure legend, a basilisk was killed in this fountain and, to avoid further calamity, is said to be embedded in the wall behind the fountain to this very day. The myth concerning the basilisk – a creature that is part rooster and part snake – is firmly rooted in the city of Basel. This is primarily evidenced by the numerous green basilisk fountains to be found across the entire city.

Back to the Middle Ages in St. Andreasgässlein

Set between two bakeries, this insider's tip in Basel takes you back to the Middle Ages. The alleyway and the remains of two towers are concealed within the building that houses 12 and 14 Schneidergasse. Now built over, "Saint Andreas Lane" can be glimpsed through the window of the "Ängel oder Aff" café. In the 13th century, this little alley ran beneath a residential tower called the "Schalon Turm", which was home to the upper classes. It acted as a sort of secret passage for accessing the houses that lay behind the densely packed buildings. The walls of this medieval building now form part of the current dwelling, and extend up as far as the third floor.

The ruins of Birseck Castle – in search of the Middle Ages

Located somewhat outside Basel in the canton of Baselland, the ruins of Birseck Castle are a lost place that exudes medieval charm. Built in the 13th century, it was severely damaged in the Basel earthquake of 1356, was repeatedly handed down and extended over the following decades, and was finally used as a quarry. It was renovated at the beginning of the 21st century and has been open to visitors for several years now – an enchanted place packed with history, and well worth a trip out into Baselland.


The Witch's Path

Well known amongst locals, the "Häxewägli" is actually a cycle route, and runs alongside the railway lines from the former Grosspeter Garage to the Gellert district. Officially named "Hexenweglein" since 2010, this is one of the most interesting lost places in Basel, and is adorned with masses of graffiti. The people of Basel have used it since time immemorial as a shortcut to avoid the busy roads. A special bonus: from the Hexenweglein you can catch a glimpse of the notorious "Basel Line" – Europe's most beautiful array of graffiti