Around Basel: Hiking to Flüh discovering the gorgeous Chälegraabe

The area around Basel is full of secrets. 

Let us discover the Chälegrabe today. 

The Chälegrabe (5) is located south of Hofstetten. It is a gorge that deeply cuts into the slopes of the Blaueberg (also called Blauen chain or Blauenkette). 

I explored the Chälegrabe, when walking from Rodersdorf to Flüh in October 2020.

 

The Chälegrabe – why is this spectacular gorge called “Chäle”-“Grabe”?

With its name, the Chälegrabe says clearly: “I AM a “gorge” and I am telling you so twice: “Chäle” is an old word for “gorge” and “Grabe” is the current Swiss German word for “gorge”… I am the “Chälegrabe”, the “Gorge-gorge” or the “Grabe-Grabe”!” (Check ortsnamen.ch, which confirms that “Chäle” is an old word for “gorge”).

Yes, the Chälegrabe is a “Gorge-gorge”, and I confirm, it is even a gorgeous “Gorge-gorge”!   

 

Let us walk through the Chälegrabe or “Gorge-gorge”

The access to the Chälegrabe is above the car park that is much used by hikers and dog owners. Here the signpost points to the Chälegrabe.

The Chälegrabe starts as a gentle creek with wooden bridges.

Then, I am approaching the rocks of the gorge,…

… and the rocks  are getting larger and narrower.

I pass by the picnic place…

… and climb up steeply on the zigzag path.

I cross the deep canyon…

… and walk along the gangway (no other way to continue in this narrow gorge-gorge)…

… with waterfalls below.

I go back down again…

… to pick up my bicycle at the car park.

I am pleased to have discovered the  gorgeous “Gorge-gorge” Chälegrabe. How often have I looked for such gorges around the world and have not been aware of this treasure so close from home, so close to Basel.

 

P.S. With the Chälegrabe, I have now completed the series of the five secrets found on my walk from Rodersdorf to Flüh in October 2020.  

  1. Historical border stones from the years 1817, 1890 and 1951 between France and Switzerland – why from 1817? And can you see the “D” (Germany or “D”eutschland) hidden “behind” the “F” for France? 
  2. Biederthal and its castle, Burg (Biederthal) – why are they separated by the border between France and Switzerland?
  3. Why does the canton of Solothurn (SO) “own” an exclave within Basel (BL)? What can the Burg Rotberg tell us about this?
  4. Why did the Romans dig a cart road (“Karrweg”) into the rocks to get from Flüh to Hofstetten – avoiding the valley? 
  5. The Chälegrabe above Hofstetten – why is this spectacular gorge called “Chäle”-Grabe”?

Secrets #1/#2 to #3/#4 are covered in two former blogs.

Around Basel: Historical secrets on the hike from Rodersdorf to Flüh (cted)

The area around Basel is full of secrets.  

Did you know that the family Rotberg sold the possessions around their castle Burg Rotberg to the canton of Solothurn?

The map shows the possessions that Solothurn bought; they are marked with “SO” and are surrounded by “BL” (Baselland).

Let us summarize the five secrets that I found, when walking from Rodersdorf to Flüh in 2020:

  1. Historical border stones from the years 1817, 1890 and 1951 between France and Switzerland – why from 1817? And can you see the “D” hidden “behind” the “F” for France? 
  2. Biederthal and its castle, Burg (Biederthal) – why are they separated by the border between France and Switzerland?
  3. Why does the canton of Solothurn (SO) “own” an exclave within Basel (BL)? What can the Burg Rotberg tell us about this?
  4. Why did the Romans dig a cart road (“Karrweg”) into the rocks to get from Flüh to Hofstetten – avoiding the valley? 
  5. The Chälegrabe above Hofstetten – why is this spectacular gorge called “Chäle”-Grabe”?

I have talked about secret #1 and #2. Now I continue with secrets #3 and #4 (leaving secret #5 for a later blog).

 

3  Why does the canton of Solothurn (SO) “own” an exclave within Basel (BL)? What can the castle Rotberg tell us about this?

The castle Burg Rotberg is beautifully located on the slopes below the Blauen chain, as seen from across, from the north, when walking from Mariastein to Metzerlen.

This is the view of the castle Burg Rotberg from “behind”; I took it, when walking at the foot of the Blauen. 

The castle Rotberg belonged to the noble Rotberg family that had their origins in this area. In 1408, the German emperor gave them the villages Rodersdorf, Metzerlen, Mariastein, Hofstetten, Flüh, Bättwil and Witterswil as a fief. The Rotberg family reported directly to the emperor, and the castle Rotberg was their domicile. However, soon the Rotberg family preferred to live in Basel, while their castle started to decay in the 15th century. 1451-1458, the family supplied the Prince-Bishop of Basel. His name was Arnold von Rotberg, and he is buried in the cathedral of Basel.

In 1515, the noblemen of Rotberg sold all the villages around their castle Burg Rotberg. They sold them to Solothurn for 4400 Gulden, and Basel advanced the money to Solothurn. It is true, for 4400 Gulden, Basel “gave away” the villages that were and are so close to their city. 

The castle Burg Rotberg was in ruins until 1934. At that time, it was reconstructed based on romantic ideas about “old” castles and opened up as a youth hostel that has been popular until today. 

Solothurn built its territory successfully from the 14th until the early 16th century. Some areas they conquered and others they bought. Their success in acquiring land at the cost of Basel becomes clear, when looking at the modern canton of Solothurn; it almost surrounds Baselland.

Source: http://ontheworldmap.com/switzerland/canton/solothurn 

One of the villages now belonging to Solothurn, Mariastein, became an important place of pilgrimage. In 1648, the abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Beinwil decided to move to Mariastein. At Mariastein, he built the neo-gothic church with the baroque interior. The monastery was active until 1874, then closed down and reopened in 1941. The church and the monastery have been fully renovated after 1971. This is the view from the north, with the Blauen chain in the background.

I was surprised to find a vineyard here, above 500m. But, yes, I do understand, monasteries need wine for their Communion. 

There are many opportunities to pray around Mariastein – this is the Chapel St. Anna.

Across, from the south, the panoramic path at the foot of the Blauen chain provides the view of Mariastein with the castle Landskron in the background (the Landskron is already located in France).

Well, now we have learnt, just 4400 Gulden made the area of the Rotberg family become part of the canton Solothurn, of the canton that has been rivalling with Basel 500 years ago. 

 

Why did the Romans dig the cart road (“Karrweg”) into the rocks to get from Flüh to Hofstetten – avoiding the valley? 

When continuing my way along the foot of the Blauen chain towards Hofstetten, I enjoy the panorama; Hofstetten is located in the foreground; in the background we can see the city of Basel and the Black Forest.

The Flüebach valley leads from Hofstetten down to Flüh. First the Romans built the connecting road in the valley, but the Flüebach used to overflow its banks destroying the road again and again. To make the connection between Flüh and Hofstetten more reliable, the Romans decided to cut the road into the rocks above the valley. This Roman cart road (“Karrweg”) was in use until around 1800. 

It was the braking wheels of the carts that engraved the marks in the rock. The old Roman cart road is now the hiking path that I take to walk down to Flüh.

Flüh is attached to the cliffs. Actually around here, in the Jura and in the Pre-Alps, the cliffs are called “Fluh” or in dialect “Flue” (Plural: “Flühe” or in dialect “Flüe” or “Flie”). 

The community of Flüh-Hofstetten has published a charming Website illustrating the history with cartoons full of humour. An instructive pleasure to read through it.

By bike, I take the Napoleon route to return home, looking back at the village Flüh that climbs up from the valley towards Mariastein and the Blauen chain. 

I intend to return soon to explore the fifth secret, which is the Chälegrabe.

Around Basel: Historical secrets on the hike from Rodersdorf to Flüh

The area around Basel is full of secrets. 

Source: Swiss Mobile (with my notes added) 

In October 2020, I hiked from Rodersdorf to Flüh (red line), and discovered five secrets:

  1. Historical border stones from the years 1817, 1890 and 1951 between France and Switzerland – why from 1817? And can you see the “D” (Germany or “D”eutschland) hidden “behind” the “F” for France? 
  2. Biederthal and its castle, Burg (Biederthal) – why are they separated by the border between France and Switzerland?
  3. Why does the canton of Solothurn (SO) “own” an exclave within Basel (BL)? What can the Burg Rotberg tell us about this?
  4. Why did the Romans dig a cart road (“Karrweg”) into the rocks to get from Flüh to Hofstetten – avoiding the valley? 
  5. The Chälegrabe above Hofstetten – why is this spectacular gorge called “Chäle”-Grabe”?

In this blog, I will start with secrets #1 and #2, while leaving the other secrets for the next blogs.

 

1 The historical border stones between Metzerlen and Burg

Where the (car) road from Rodersdorf up to Metzerlen reaches the highest point of the pass, it touches the border between France and Switzerland.

The hiking signs to the Remel (or Raemel in French) are on the French side.  

Here we find stone #109 that is from 1890. It shows the edge of the French/Swiss border pointing to the wooden steps,…

… where the path lined with more historical border stones starts. The stones are either

  • from 1817 (just after the Congress of Vienna, 1815),
  • from 1890 (the Alsace belonged to Germany since 1870/71) or…
  • from 1951 (which happens to be my year of birth). 

After having climbed the wooden steps, we come across stone #110 from 1817. Why 1817? At the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, statesmen and diplomats had reorganized Europe, which needed to be documented.

All border stones from 1817 show the coat of arms of the Swiss canton Solothurn with S and O engraved to the sides.

On the French side, the French engraved the fleur de Lys. After 1870/71, the Germans, having conquered the Alsace, removed the flower to replace it with “D” for Germany. After World War I (1918), the Alsace became French again, and the French changed the  “D” into the “F” for France, but the “D” can still be seen (border stone #110). 

There must have been an inventory of the country borders in 1890. The Alsace was still part of Germany and Bismarck had just resigned. The 1890 stones have an “S” with a cross engraved on the Swiss side (stone #116).

The stones from 1951 have been produced more “efficiently”: A plain “S” and a plain “F” mark the countries (stone #115).

The pretty path with the border stones winds through the forest and crosses the romantic Y-shaped canyon of the Geissberg above Biederthal.

At Burg, we leave the canton Solothurn. We are now in the former Prince-Bishopric of Basel. 

 

2 Biederthal and its castle Burg (Biederthal) – why are they separated by the border between France and Switzerland?

In 1168, Friedrich Barbarossa, the one with the red beard, gave the area to the Habsburgians, as a fief. They built the castle or Burg Biederthal in 1250 to watch over their tithe courtyard Biederthal (Dinghof). In 1269, the archbishop of Basel bought just the castle/Burg of Biederthal, without its tithe courtyard Biederthal, which remained with the Habsburgians and later became part of France. This is why the country border separates the castle from “its” village. Burg now became a village of its own.

In 1946, Burg selected this coat of arms.

Source: wiki entry for Burg

Where does the coat of arms come from? The answer: The archbishop of Basel granted Burg as a fief to the noblemen von Wessenberg. They owned it from 1401 to 1793. Around Burg  we can find the historical border stones of the Wessenberg. One well-kept stone is a few meters below the summit “Remel/Raemel” above Burg. From the Wessenberg, the community of Burg took the coat of arms in 1946.

In 1815, the Congress of Vienna decided to merge the former Prince-Bishopric of Basel with Switzerland; Burg became part of the canton of Bern, belonging to the district Laufental. Later, in 1993, the Laufental (with Burg) voted to join the canton of Baselland instead. Nevertheless, many border stones around Burg have kept showing the coat of arms of Bern, the bear. This stone with the bear of Berne marks the border with France, just below Burg.

Border stones from 1817, 1890 and 1951 and a castle separated from “its” village by the border of France and Switzerland – yes, the area around Basel is full of secrets that can be discovered hiking.

 

Sources: https://www.baselland.ch/politik-und-behorden/gemeinden/burg-il/unsere-gemeinde/geschichte-wappen

 

 

Around Basel on a rainy day – in search of the Benkenspitz or Bänggeschpitz

Today it is a rainy and rather warm mid-February day in 2017. I set out to discover the Benkenspitz or “Bängeschpitz”. This is a narrow forest “wedge” of Benken (Switzerland) extending into France between the two French villages Hagenthal and Neuwiller (the border between Switzerland and France is drawn in pink on this Swissmobility map).

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This “wedge” called “Benkenspitz” is some 900m long and some 100m wide. The narrowest place is at the “entrance” in the south – just 62m wide. In the Internet I found some secondary information that says this forest “wedge” has already belonged to Benken, when Basel acquired it in the early 16th century. It is assumed that this might have been a good place for hunting. Actually I came across quite a few hunting stands in this area both on the Swiss and on the French side.

My  blog “Around Basel – looking for old boundary stones on a sunny cold day” talks about my cold winter walk to the boundary stones between Oberwil (that until about 1800 belonged to the Bishopric of Basel) and Benken (that – with Biel – had been acquired by the town Basel soon after 1500). Today it is rather warm and rainy. The Passwang is still covered with snow.

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I am on the Bielhübel in front of the water reservoir with its natural pond.

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Not far from here are the beautifully restored boundary stones from the 17th and 18th century that mark the border between Oberwil (Bishopric of Basel) and Biel-Benken (belonging to Basel).

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I continue my way above Biel and come across a lady on a very, very dirty mountain bike. “Have you seen anyone on a mountain bike – I have lost my husband… no?… “Matthias, Matthiaaaas”… I do not want to frighten the animals, there is so much deer around here… I am from Spain… Matthiaaaas, Matthiaaaaaaass…” and finally Matthias replies and she is happy. “You are looking for boundary stones?… there is one not far from here…”, she says knowing well the history of Biel-Benken. Right, here it is, shortly before reaching the Swiss hiking path marked in green at the Swiss-French border.

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From here I continue along the Swiss-French border between Neuwiller and Biel-Benken. A small footpath follows the boundary stones, marked with the Swiss cross on one side…

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… and with the “F” for France on the other side (1816 – this was just after the Congress of Vienna in 1815).

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Later this well prepared hiking path ends and continues as a muddy path. EXACTLY where the nice path ends and the mud begins is – guess what – the border between France and Switzerland.

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I cross this road to continue following the boundary stones. I meet a lady with two dogs. She comes from Neuwiller in France and takes out dogs of various owners. We speak French with one another while one of the dogs barks loudly at me – with a French accent.

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After having paved my way through a muddy meadow, I cross the road connecting Benken with Neuwiller. Again, it is very clear, where the border is. Baselland (Basle Country), the canton of cherry trees, says good-bye to the cars crossing the border and driving to Neuwiller in France.

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I cross the road and follow the ditch that is the border between Switzerland and France. This one boundary stone is nicely coloured on the Swiss side.

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Still following the ditch I approach the “entrance” of the Benkenspitz. It starts on the meadow between the two forests.

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I first see the boundary stone to the west of the “entrance”. I am confused, but then I find the stone marking the east of the “entrance” to the forest “wedge” and enjoy the view of the Jura hills in Switzerland.

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I continue along the east line – one boundary stone after the next to make it all clear, where Switzerland ends in this narrow wedge and where France starts.

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A huge tractor cuts trees – in France. I  have reached the end of the Swiss wedge called “Benkenspitz” and return back along the west border – again well  marked.

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I leave the Benkenspitz behind me and continue to follow the French-Swiss border. This is an interesting cooperation: A Swiss traffic sign (only residents are allowed to drive here) and a French hiking sign of the Club Vosgien.

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And – across of this French-Swiss cooperation – be aware, following this hiking sign takes you to France, only allowed when having nothing to declare!

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Along vineyards the boundary stones lead me down towards Benken.

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I take the bus back to Bottmingen – good that public transportation works so efficiently.

So much to discover around Basel – the Klus and the Burgengratweg

The Klus west of Aesch near Basel – wine and culture

West of Aesch near Basel there is a small valley with southward looking slopes that have a tradition of wine growing – it is the largest wine growing area around Basel. On the hills around the Klus valley there is culture – a dolmen tomb, an old cave and various castles (all ruins). The ruins south of the Klus valley are connected by the marked “Burgengratweg” (“ruin ridge path”), and there is another ruin north of the upper Klus, Frohberg, that is more difficult to reach out to.

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I like the Klus and check out the marked hiking paths and the more hidden unmarked paths to get ready to lead the Monday Nordic Walking group to the tomb and the castles. Thank you, Andreas and Helga, for uncovering the secrets of this valley to me.

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The Dolmen tomb 

I start my walk above the vineyards in the forest following the yellow hiking signposts. A brown plate directs me to the dolmen tomb.

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Only the basis of the tomb is left and protected by a fence. Originally it has been covered with stone slabs and must have been some 2-2.5m high. It has been built around 2500-1500 BC (late stone age or bronze age).

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Nearby I have a wonderful view of the Klus vineyards and the forest hiding the ruins along the “Burgengratweg”. The Gempenplateau can be discerned in the background.

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Looking for the ruins defending the Klus

A narrow path takes me up to the ruin Frohberg that is well protected sitting on the top of an almost inaccessable rock. The castle has not been explored by archaeologists. They assume that it has been built by the Schaler family in the 13th century, perhaps as an additional stronghold against the family Münch that also owned a castle overlooking the Klus valley. Like most castles around Basel it has been destroyed in the 1356 earthquake and may not have been reconstructed. Later the bishop of Basel owned Frohberg with the farm Tschöpperli/Tschäpperli and gave it to the family Thierstein as a fief. They managed the farm from the nearby castle Pfeffingen.

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Today, the Tschäpperli farm is one of the renowned wine growers of the Klus.

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These are some of their vineyards.

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A short round hike on unmarked paths makes me discover the lama farm

I walk towards the Blattenpass and turn left on an unmarked path to cross the Bielgraben (“Biel ditch”). A beautiful panorama view of the Tschäpperli vineyards and a charming path under birch trees…

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… take me to this sign announcing llama xing. Llama xing – here in Switzerland! Yes, the farm “Obere Klus” has lamas – among other animals. The lamas are rented out for hikes.

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The narrow and sometimes exposed Burgengratweg (ruin ridge path)

About 50m down the valley I enter the Burgengratweg. There is warning: The path is not in good state, you go there on your own risk. Well, it is narrow, stony, with roots – pretty rough for standards around Basel, but there are more dangerous hiking paths in Switzerland. Each of the sights I will come across on the Burgengratweg has a plate that explains the history.

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After having crossed a small creek, I reach the Schalberghöhle (Schalberg cave). Flint stone tools and animal bones from 50’000 years ago  (“Moustérien” ) and from the late stone – and bronze age (about 3500BC and 1000 BC) have been found here.

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The first castle is Schalberg, built by the family Schaler (they have also built Frohberg). After the earthquake they rebuilt this castle. They later sold it to the bishop of Basel (1437) who gave it to the Thierstein family as a fief. Soon thereafter the castle must have been abandoned, as it is no longer mentioned in the archives.

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Also the second castle, Engenstein, belonged to the family Schaler. The castle was also called “Alt-” or “Vorder”-Schalberg. A dizzying iron ladder leads to a platform. It has been given up already in 1280, probably, because the family had built the “newer” Schalberg castle not far from here.

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The next castle, Münchsberg, built in the 13th century, belonged to the family Münch that later also sold the castle (with farms) to the bishop of Basel and received it back as a fief.

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The last castle on the Burgengratweg is Peffingen above Aesch and the namesake village Pfeffingen. Its origins go back to the 11th century. In the 12th century, the family Thierstein owned Pfeffingen (along with nearby Dorneck). From 1522 it belonged to the bishop of Basel; his bailey then lived here. In the late 18th century the castle was abandoned. It is currently being renovated.

As it starts to pour with rain, I leave the forest and the narrow, now slippery ruin ridge path.

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Strolling through the vineyards and discovering innovative wine growers

In the rain I prefer to stroll through the vineyards. There is a round tour with posts explaining the business of wine growing throughout the year.

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Monika Fanti is a winegrower that also runs a small restaurant (“Winzerbaizli” or “little winery pub”). I like the names of her wines: “ilFANTIno”, “exKLUSivo”, “FANTIssimo” and “mySEELEdröpfli” (literally translated: “my soul droplet”). I take a leaflet with me announcing “Neus vo eus”, meaning “news from us” in the dialect of Basle Country.

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I plan to get back to this place. Some of the wines of Monika Fanti would be a great addition to my gift drawer – besides, of course, trying them out myself.

A few meters higher up I find “chez Mitz”, where I can hear laughing through one of the open windows – I think a Sunday brunch is going on. Teddy bears sit on the window sills looking down at the hikers.

Really, the Klus of Aesch is a charming corner! I look forward to the Monday walk with the group and I will surely come back more often.

So much to discover around Basel – Pratteln

My new mountain bike takes me to Pratteln and I discover who has been here before…

This year – 2015 – I bought a new mountain bike. I set out to explore more of the secrets around Basel to plan the nordic walking hikes that I am now guiding – with my eyes restored. My next target is Pratteln. This small town has published the excellent and very detailed “Heimatkunde Pratteln 2003” (Emmy Honnegger et alii) and a nice Website. I pick a few cherries that might add to the walking experience around Pratteln – I love to know more about the places that I am hiking to. And – any misinterpretations are my own fault – I am not a historian.

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Source: Bundesamt für Landestopographie 213T – Basel

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Pratteln – why are you called “Pratteln”? Ah, you were a “small meadow” near Roman Augusta Raurica

The name “Pratteln” comes from the Latin “Prattelum”=small meadow. Pratellum was a suburban service center for the Roman town Augusta Raurica, with farms and crafts business. It seems that, after the Roman empire had collapsed, the Alemanni did not settle here before the 7th/8th century, and the population continued to speak a Roman language. If the Alemanni had settled here earlier, the alemannic second sound shift would have transformed “Pratteln”  to”Pfratzelen” (“Heimatkunde”) or “Pfrasseln” (wikipedia). I prefer “Pratteln”  to “Pfratzelen” or “Pfrasseln”. We Swiss just say “Braddele”.

The large farms surrounding Pratteln today indicate that it must have been a beautiful service center for Augusta Raurica. Here is Mayenfels above Pratteln that is now a school.

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There were settlements in Pratteln long before the Roman times – perhaps

To the south of Pratteln there is the “Hohle Gasse” – a very steep and even today mostly unpaved path that connects Pratteln with the “Chäppeli”.

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It was here that a school boy found a hand ax in 1974. The ax is older than any other ax found in Switzerland – the estimates I could find reach from 120’000 to 350’000 years (sources: “Heimatkunde”, p. 71 and Website of Kanton Basellandschaft). It is not clear, whether the glacier has transported the ax to this place or whether the owner really lived around Pratteln. Too long ago to know for sure.

Signs of settlements from stone, bronze and iron age have also been found around Pratteln (see Heimatkunde p. 72).

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Medieval times: Monasteries and the noble family of Eptingen. Later owned by protestant Basel

Until around 900 AD the monastery of Murbach (Alsace) had possessions in Pratteln. Reminiscence today: The church of Pratteln is dedicated to Murbach’s patron, Saint Leodegar. The church was later sourrounded by a wall to protect it against the floods of the Talbach (Heimatkunde, p. 97, the wall is called “Kirchenbering”).

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Other reminiscences of those early days  can be found in the field names. For instance starting around 700 AD, forest areas were cleared to gain space for agriculture. These areas were then named Blözen (related with “entblössen”=to bare), Rüti (medieval German “ruiten”=to clear) or Stockmatt (when the thick roots (“Stock”) remained in the meadow (“Matt”)). Other names describe the topology: “Halden” is less steep than a “Rain” (Moderhalden and Blözenrain). “Goleten” points to a landslide that left stone blocks (My Ernst also said “Golete”). In the “Cholholz” – there was a charcoal burning site (Heimatkunde, p. 25f).

In the late 11th century the monastery of St. Alban, just east of the city  gates of Basel, was given possessions in Pratteln. St. Albanstrasse and St. Albanmatte in Pratteln remind us of this today.

In the late 13th century the noble family Eptinger settled in Pratteln (presumably it was a feud from Habsburg).  In the 13th century, they built two castles, one in Pratteln in the valley (surrounded by water) and a second one on the Madeln hill above Pratteln. After the 1356 earthquake, they rebuilt the castle in the valley. Owned by the government since 1773, it is no longer a water castle today, has been beautifully renovated in the 1960’s (see Ernst Zeugin) and is open for the public (guided tours).

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The castle on the Madeln hill (Madlechöpfli) has not been rebuilt after the earthquake. Today only the ditches can be distinguished on the hill, the remains of the ruins have been covered up in the 1930’s to protect them from further decay. No spectacular ruins for today’s hikers on the Madeln summit – just another picknick spot in the dense forest. But, when having a picknick on Madeln, beware of the Madlejäger or hunter of Madeln. He comes with twelve white dogs, when the weather is changing. He has suffered until these days, because he had killed the owner of Schauenburg to marry the widow (Heimatkunde, p. 318). Below, the “bosky” highest point on the mountain range in the background is the Madeln hill.

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In the 15th century, Hans Bernhard von Eptingen built the monastery of Schauenburg and a chapel with a hospice in the Geisswald just above Pratteln. The place is called “Chäppeli” which reminds us of Hans’ chapel that does no longer exist – after the reformation (1529) the stones have been reused to build the parochial house of Pratteln. The fountain is said to give curative water and the Geisswald seems to be an energy spot emitting 8000 Bovis (“Geiss” pointing to what we call Kraftort in German). This was a good place for a chapel and now it is a good place for a vast picknick and play ground. The foto shows the area with the fountain in the background.

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In 1521 the family Eptinger sold the castle and part of Pratteln to Basel – for 5000 Gulden. 1549 the Habsburgians gave up the rest for 3000 Gulden. However, with their coat of arms – an eagle with  red tongue and red claws –  the noble family Eptinger is omnipresent today, on banners, on the cars of the firebrigade, in gardens… everywhere. To differentiate their banner from the emblem of Eptingen (also a former possession of the Eptinger family), Pratteln has added a black frame.

I found the emblem on the little hut at the picknick spot “Chäppeli”.

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and everywhere in the center of Pratteln  that today, July 31st, is preapring for the Swiss national holiday on 1st of August.

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Modern times – salt and industrialization… and taking care of the medieval village center

In the early 19th century salt was found near Pratteln. This started the industrial development.

Based on a geological map, Peter Merian forecasted the chance of finding salt on the shores of the Rhine. Carl Christian Friedrich Glenck dug, found salt in 1836 (116m under the ground) and a year later, he opened the first saline factory. Now the Swiss Rhine Salines produce 450’000 tons of salt a year in the valley and on the adjacent hills of the Plateau Jura, south of Pratteln and Muttenz.

The presence of salt as an important component attracted chemical factories. From the motorway, I have always seen the signs of the “Säurefabrik” (“acid factory”) – now I know, the Säurefabrik came here in 1918 to combine salt with iron sulfur which results in salt – and sulfur acid (Heimatkunde, p. 107). And Ciba, Novartis, Sandoz and many more national and international enterprises form the industrial complex of Schweizerhalle between the railway and the Rhine river today – this sight is taken from Google Earth.

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Source: Google Earth

Despite the industrial evolution, Pratteln kept its charming historical center and makes it worth a visit.

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Vineyards – first mentioned in 1284 and a pastor from the 17th century that must have loved the wine…

There are vineyards to the south of Pratteln. They were mentioned first in the books of the monastery of St. Alban in 1284. The production was then around 60’000 liters. In 1749 a historian praised the vines of Pratteln, “in particular the red wines are among the good and dense wines of our region (gut und kräftig).” (Heimatkunde, p. 170). In 1807 there were 47ha of vineyards (in the valley and on the hills). Now just about 6.7 ha are left, all on the eastward looking slopes of the Ebnet (see Weinbauverein Pratteln). There are two professional and  20 hobby wine growers producing about 60’000 bottles a year.

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One of the two professional wine growers runs the Leuengrund. It has a small restaurant (open from October to February; this is a Straussen- or Meienwirtschaft, announced by a bunch of flowers, a custom based on Charlemagne (768-814)). Find below the Leuengrund with its gorgeous view. I will come back here in autumn, when the restaurant is open.

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In the 17th century, the pastor Christoph Hagenbach (1596-1668) had a small half-timbered house built on the edge of the vineyards, overlooking the Rhine valley with the Black Forest and the Vosges. It was here that he prepared his sermons (perhaps the wine helped him find the right words). After him, this wonderful spot is called “Hagebächli”. Look at his cosy little house…

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…  and the view over Pratteln to the Dinkelberg beyond the Rhine river and the Vosges in the background to the left.

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Well, I am impressed by the history of Pratteln. I love to share it with the nordic walking group, when hiking here. Andreas and Helga, thank you for having opened my eyes for the secrets of my home region around Basel.

So much to discover around Basel (the Hardwald with water supply and Roman watch tower as well as an idyllic restaurant)

Andreas and Helga love the idyllic restaurant “Gasthof Solbad” just bordering on the Rhine

In the summer, the Gastof Solbad opens their garden bordering the Rhine. It is a great setting under a weeping willow. On a sunny day in June 2015, Andreas and Helga take their Nordic walking group to this idyllic place.

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Our walk through the Hard and along the river Rhine (Rhein)

To get to the restaurant Solbad in Schweizerhalle, we have to cross the Hard. “Hard” actually means “forest”. We start in “Neue Welt”, walk along the river Birs, climb up to the Hard, oscillate a bit to make enough kilometers (10 to 15km) and then take the “Rheinpfad” that leads along the Rhine with posts of interest on the way. The restaurant Solbad is in Schweizerhalle.

Karte Hard

Source: Karte Schweizmobil

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The Hard – a paradise for walkers and indispensable water supply for Basel

The Hard supplies water to Basel.

As this panel says, water from the Rhine becomes pristine water (from the Rhine=Rhein, made pristine=”rein” – a game of words in German).  Rhine water is pumped up and then purified in filters.

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The purified Rhine water is directed to water channels with gravel beds. It sinks to the ground and adds to the Hard groundwater. The clean water from the river and the ground is then transfered from the Hard to the Langen Erlen north of Basel that also has its own groundwater. From there it is provided to the town.

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These water channels are part of the purification system in the Hard. They add to the romantic atmosphere that walkers find here.

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There is a control system to feed the water channels.

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Wooden bridges allow to cross the water channels. We make a loop following the water channels and then leave this area to continue along the Rhine.

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Along the Rhine: The Romans were here – and left their marks

This late Romanic watch tower borders the Rhine. It was built in the late 4th century, when the Romans came more and more under pressure by the Germanic and Alemannic tribes. Just the stone basement is left and has been preserved in 1975.

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Dismantling of a huge industrial building in Schweizerhalle

Not far from the watch tower – when still walking in the woods – we hear a terribly loud noise. When leaving the woods, we see this huge industrial building that is now it being dismantled piece by piece. When walking by, we almost have to protect our ears.

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Navigation driven by muscles

Our last place interest is the “Schiffahrt mit Muskelantrieb” or “navigation driven by muscles” (named “Rothus” on the map).

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These are the boats that are driven by muscles – we call them “Weidling” which is similar to a “punt”, as Wikipedia says.

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Soon after this boats place we reach the garden of the restaurant Solbad and order a drink to cool down.

Thank you, Andreas and Helga, for having showed me some more secrets of Basel region. From the restaurant Solbad I walked back home the same way to enjoy it once more and take the fotos using my iPhone. I look forward to more treasure hunting with you.

 

Around Basel – The Ermitage near Arlesheim is full of surprises

My grandma loved the Ermitage – and took me there, when I was a child

My grandma loved the Ermitage. Around 1900 she went as a child, and later in the 1920-ies she came with her in-laws from Heidelberg. Then in the 1950-ies, she took me to the Ermitage.  I was a child and I still see me stand on this platform and feed the carps with old bread found at the bottom of the huge hand bag of my grandma, amidst great fruit candies. The platform is still the same.

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On June 27th 2015, the Ermitage celebrates the 230th anniversary – a great opportunity to learn more about it

The Ermitage is the largest English garden in Switzerland. It was created in 1785 by Balbina von Andlau-Staal (wife of the bailiff of the prince-bishopric of Basel) and her cousin, Heinrich von Ligerz. As opposed to the geometric French gardens, the  English style gardens were made to look natural, following Chinese garden architecture rules. The rules included setting up places of interest such as caves, ruins, monuments, fountains, water falls or leisure corners, and the Ermitage garden benefited from the steep hill of the Birseck castle with its natural caves. Already in 1785 the garden was open to the public.

A few years later during the French revolution, the garden was devastated by the farmers around Arlesheim and by French troops. Also the castle of Birseck (former seat of the bailiff) was destroyed in the process. In 1811 the son of Balbina, Conrad von Andlau, had the Ermitage rebuilt, supported by Heinrich von Ligerz, now an old man. The castle of Birseck was partially rebuilt and integrated in the Ermitage garden. The garden reopened in 1812. It subsequently changed ownership various times and since 1999 it has belonged to the Stiftung Ermitage Arlesheim und Schloss Birseck.

My sources are: The Ermitage Website , “Die Höhlen der Ermitage bei Arlesheim” (by Erich Plattner) and also listening to the guides in the garden.

On June 27th 2015, the Ermitage celebrates the 230th anniversary. Places of interest such as the caves or the Birseck castle are open and looked after by members of the foundation (Stiftung) or by citizens of Arlesheim.

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Ab uff d-Sogge

“Ab uff d’Sogge” –  this is how we Swiss say “let’s go” or literally “let us go on our socks” (“Sogge” are “socks” – as shown on the sign). “Ab uff d’Sogge”… Arlesheim invites us to the Ermitage. Well – let us go and  “ab uff d’Sogge” to explore the surprises of the Ermitage that has dressed up for the anniversary of 230 years.

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Source: “Die Höhlen der Ermitage bei Arlesheim” by Erich Plattner.

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A cheese cake and a coffee – the cosy garden of the Schleiferei is open

Near the entrance to the Ermitage is the so-called “Schleife”, a small house. A basket contains material about the sights and activities in the Ermitage. The garden is a coffee place today. I have some cake with a coffee. Water is free. It is spiced with fresh mint leaves.

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In the background above the garden is the Birseck castle sitting on top of the hill. On the slope under the castle, winding narrow paths invite to explore the caves, monuments, the house of the brother in the wood (Waldbruder) and more secrets hidden in the English garden.

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The old mill is open

The old mill is open today. There is a gallery inside. Earlier today there were anniversary speeches held in the mill.

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The main entrance to the hill area with the winding paths and caves is behind the mill. It is called Felsentoreingang (rock gate entry). Erich Plattner sells his book just next to the main entrance. I buy two copies, one for me and one for the Austrian friends that have taught me so much history and geography while taking me for walks aorund Basel.

This is Erich Plattner’s plan of the caves and the winding narrow paths leading to the Birseck castle. It is the best map that I could find.

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Source: “Die Höhlen der Ermitage bei Arlesheim” by Erich Plattner.

In detail, Erich Plattner explains, how the caves emerged in a former riff area (shore of the paleolithic Thetys Sea) and then were transformed at the edge of the later Rhine valley ditch (p. 45ff). He also describes, how the garden architects transformed the caves to fit into their English garden concept. Many caves were enlarged and decorated, however the Calypso cave was destroyed, because they built a large platform above it, for a carousel at that time. Most caves have names taken from the Greek mythology such as Apollo or Diana. Diogenes and Salomon Gessner (around 1780 a famous poet from Zurich) also have received their caves.

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The Proserpinagrotte – well explained by a professional tour guide

I dive into the garden using the path behind the Felsentor and reach my first cave, the Proserpinagrotte. Every twenty minutes, Sibylle von Heydebrand lays out the history of this cave which is the largest in the garden.

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I join the next group. Inside is a large hall. Stairs lead to the next level, and they are lit by petroleum lamps common at the time, when the garden was built.

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Listening to the guide and reading Erich Plattner’s chapter about the Proserpina cave, I start to understand, how important these caves were for the experience that the English garden architects intended to provide to visitors. The architects enlarged the three halls of the Proserpina cave and connected them using stairs and corridors. Proserpina (or Persephone) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and she was kidnapped by Hades. She represents the idea of death and resurrection and this lead to changing arrangements in this cave. In the first setup, there was a gate to the cave – or the underworld. A bench in front of the gate invited to meditate (there is still a bench here today). The first hall was the underworld, represented by a black altar, a spying dragon and a crocodile, all lit by lamps. Stairs lead to a platform with a statue of Proserpina on it. There was also an owl that had eyes lit by a lamp. When going up the stairs, a devil made of wood would jump into the face of the visitor. Rather scary. This tunnel of horror setup was changed after two years; free masons redid the cave. They made the allegory of the death on the first floor less scary and left the Proserpina statue on the platform. Visitors reported that they were very impressed by the allegories of death and resurrection in this cave. During the French revolution the cave was destroyed completely and then rebuilt. In the first hall Heinrich von Ligerz built a tomb to remind of the death of Balbina in 1798. Today there is a copy with a typing error, as our guide points out: The date of death is 1788 – no, it is 1798! (More details in Erich Plattner’s book on p 97ff).

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The path winds uphill to the Birseck castle

Climbing towards the Birseck castle, I come across this inscription for the founders of the Ermitage… it is near the Diogenes cave.

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The Birseck castle is open for visitors today. I climb the tower,…

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… look down into the garden,…

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… enjoy the view to the Goetheanum and the Blauen, …

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… and listen to music played in the chapel.

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In the great hall nearby, a group of students from the Goetheanum (“Am Wort”) recite Faust and sing songs composed by Schubert. The language of Goethe is very sonorous, but difficult to understand. Well, the Goetheanum is not far and I am impressed by the professionalism of the performance.

The castle keeper tells us that after having been destroyed in the French revolution, the Birseck castle was rebuilt not based on original plans, but based on what was thought to match best an English style garden. The tower and the great hall as well as the pinnacles were the result of those ideas. Only the chapel has remained from the former Birseck castle.

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Activities for children in the Weidhof just behind the Birseck castle

It is already half past two and the Ermitage event closes at 3 PM. I enter the Weidhof just behind the Birseck castle. A young boy sits next to an empty pastry bowl and a waffle iron.

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Kindly he tells me that there will be more pastry and he disappears, but then does not come back. I look around and discover with how much love this children’s place has been set up.There is a castle tower with a garden next to it (this must be a garden with mushrooms and flowers, and there is even a stork on the roof),…

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… a paintings gallery,…

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… and this must be a shop to buy paintings.

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I think back of my childhood and my grand’ma that had often taken me to the Ermitage. With a smile on my face, I leave this place, feeling sorry that I was too late to watch the children producing and selling works of art here. This children’s playground is a great idea.

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The brother of the wood nods “thank you”, when given money

Now I oscillate a bit to find the brother of the wood. I come across this strange hut – or whatever it is. It takes me some time to understand… this is the wood log pile of the brother of the wood. Of course, clear, the brother needs wood to heat his little house. And the pile of wood cannot be too far. When the door is closed, this “thing” looks almost like a pile of wood. But the phantasy of the garden architects was unlimited. They added a door to the pile that can be openend – and from inside there is a great view of the Gobenmatt valley. They must have done this construction with a twinkle of an eye. Or of two eyes even.

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Not far from the wood pile there is a chapel (handy for the brother, should also not be too far to walk) and then I find the brother reading in his book. A girl and her mother are inside the house as well. The girl gives some coins into the bowl and the brother nods. Yes, these garden architects surprise me with all their phantasy. Mum and her daughter leave the place. I am now alone with the member of the Säulizunft that looks after the brother. Together we think about Arlesheim and only now I understand – not all Baselland is protestant. Of course not, I could have understood this before. Arlesheim was part of the prince-bishopric of Basel, which was a catholic institution. And it was only after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 that Arlesheim became part of Basel (and after 1833 it split off with the rest of Baselland to become part of the half canton).

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Close to the brother of the wood I find the Gessner cave with the memorial of this poet known around 1800.

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Walking down to the Birseck Ermitage cave and the carousel platform

I walk down to the Birseck Ermitage cave and the carousel platform. This was the place for leasure. Once upon a time, there was a carousel here and stairs lead to a stage for musicians.

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Well, I just sit down, look up into the crowns of the trees and dream. I think, this is what the garden architects wanted to give us – just dreams.

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Enough for now – I will come back

I am full of new impressions. And I know, I have not found all the surprises that this English garden holds. I leave now, and I intend to come back and book a tour with Sibylle von Heydebrand. May be for our next meeting with my school mates.

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On the road – discovering so much around Basel: To the southeast (V)

Discovering treasures, while being forced to just walk around Basel

Now that I can drive again (being so happy about this), I sometimes park my car below the Schartenfluh to take pictures and get more acquainted with the middle part of the Gempen plateau. In this blog I am talking about the Schartenfluh (another “rock”), the border path (Grenzweg) between Arlesheim and Dornach behind the Goetheanum, the dome of Arlesheim and the vineyards “Schlossberg” and “Steinbruch”.

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Source: Bundesamt für Landestopographie 213T – Basel

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Schartenfluh

The Schartenfluh (sometimes called “Gempenstollen” or “Gempenfluh”) is the rocky landmark topping the Gempenplateau that can be seen from far – here is a picture taken from the fortification of Dorneck.

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The view from the Schartenfluh is superb and goes across the trinational area of Basel with the Jura, the Black Forest in Germany and the Vosges in France. When the weather is clear, you can even see the white Finsteraarhorn in the Bernese Alps. This selection shows the view of the Blauen, the Bruderholz and the suburbs of Aesch and Reinach stretching along the Birs.

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A tower invites to get an even better overview of the trinational area around Basel.

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Climbing this tower requires to be free from giddiness.

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The dome of Arlesheim

The roman-catholic church of Arlesheim is called “dome” indicating that it once has been much more important than a mere “church”: Correct. The dome and the related buildings have been built around 1700 to become the new noble residence for the cathedral chapter (Domkapitel) of the Prince-Bishopric of Basel (Fürstbistum Basel). The Fürstbistum Basel were the secular possessions of the bishop of Basel who resided in Pruntrut (he had to leave Basel during the reformation in the 1520’s). The cathedral chapter is the noble committee of the bishop. The Fürstbistum Basel was dissolved in 1792 (Napoleon) and the former dome became the roman-catholic church of Arlesheim (sources: Home Site of Dornach  and for the Fürstbistum Basel: Wikipedia and “Historischer Atlas der Region Basel” edited by the Christoph Merian Stiftung, 2010).

Here is the dome of Arlesheim taken from the vineyard “Schlossberg” of Arlesheim.

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Vineyards in Arlesheim – more grand cru than I thought at first sight

There are two vineyards in Arlesheim: The Schlossberg (“castle slope”) and the Steinbruch (“quarry”) (see Weinbau im Birseck). The mild climate of Arlesheim has always been favorable for growing wine.  Both vineyards are steep and looking south to capture as much sun as possible.  The noble committee of the bishop loved the wine of Arlesheim. Perhaps this is why they had their dome built here?

Sometimes Frischluft organizes visits to the vineyards. They praise the wine of the traditional winegrower, Erich Rediger. Quergut has recently been founded by two new and innovative winegrowers, the couple Huber/Bühlmann and Thomas Löliger. End of September they invited guests to their Schlossberg vineyard. I went and found myself amidst a group of teachers and artists – Michael Huber is a part time teacher at the Gymnasium Oberwil and a part time musician. His father has already grown wine here at the Schlossberg. Michael now follows in the steps of his father. In addition to Pinot Noir he has recently planted Shiraz and Cabernet Jura (the latter for blending, Michael tells me). The white grapes are Sauvignon Blanc (Michael says, the global warming makes it possible here) , Cabernet Blanc (a new breed of grapes) and Pinot Gris (in German: Ruländer or Grauburgunder). In the scorching sun I enjoy a sparkling Schlossberg Suuser (fresh wine) with a delicious pumpkin soup and later a fruity glass of Pinot Noir from the Schlossberg.

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These are vines in the Steinbruch or quarry.

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Grenzweg behind the Goetheanum (border trail)

My friends from Austria stopped once in the restaurant Schlosshof close to the ruin Dorneck. From here, a steep and romantic trail is following the border between the two suburbs Arlesheim (belongs to the canton of Rural Basel) and Dornach (part of the canton Solothurn). The border stones are the proof that there is a border here.

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The Grenzweg is a quiet path along a creek. Bridges lead to the gardens of noble houses. Also birds are invited to live and breed here.

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In addition I am surprised by this unusal view of the Goethenaum from behind…

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… with its heating house (Heizhaus)…

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… and with its glass house (Glashaus).

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The name “Goetheanum” is derived from the German poet Goethe. Based on admiring Goethe for his Spiritual Science, Rudolf Steiner founded the Anthroposophical movement in the beginning of the 20th century. He made the Goetheanum their world center. The first Goetheanum was built in 1908. It was a harmonious wooden building  avoiding right angles – like most anthroposophical houses do here in Dornach. The first Goetheanum was destroyed by arson in 1922. My gran-ma lived in  Basel then and told me that the fire could be seen from far. She was sad, because she found the wooden Goetheanum was beautiful. For the second version of the Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner selected concrete. Again avoiding right angles the second Goetheanum was completed in 1928.

The glass house (Glashaus) in the back garden was built to manufacture the stained glass windows for the first Goetheanum made out of wood. Also made out of wood, the glass house gives us an idea of what the wooden Goetheanum had looked like before the fire. The glass house has recently been renovated. It houses the school of Spiritual Sciences.

(see wikipedia and the Goetheanum homesite )

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So many gems around Basel…

… to my opinion it is just a pity that the reunification of the two half cantons of Basel has been denied in September 2014. Before the voting weekend end, there were many posters in Rural Basel (or “Baselbiet”) proposing “no – we remain independent”. A frustrated citizen from Basel Town may have added the remark: “We also do not want you, farmers” (Mir wänn euch Buure au nid”).

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This makes me a little sad, as I have always loved both Basel Town and Rural Basel – and this year I was happy to benefit from the hiking options in front of my house door – in both half cantons.

 

 

On the road – discovering so much around Basel: To the southeast (I)

Discovering treasures, while being forced to just walk around Basel

As from April to August some surgeries forced me to stay at home, I walked and walked discovering and rediscovering gems around Basel. Here are some of them in the southeast of Basel, starting with a first selection.

This map shows the hill of Wartenberg (between Muttenz and Pratteln) and the long stretched mountain plateau of the Gempen southeast of Basel. The Gempen belongs to the Tabular Jura.

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Source: Bundesamt für Landestopographie 213T – Basel

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The Ermitage – the romantic landscape garden near Arlesheim

The Ermitage is a romantic English style landscape garden in the Gobenmatttal above Arlesheim (in English also: Hermitage). The garden dates from 1785, was destroyed by Napoleon in 1793, and has since been renovated repeatedly.  The Birseck castle (also destroyed by Napoleon) is part of the garden.

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Along the Gobenmatt creek, there are a few houses. The entrance is marked by an aqueduct, the former mill and the house of the gardener with the  annex that was used to produce tobacco for some time (“Tabakstampfe”).

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There are three ponds. The first pond is small…

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… and it is fed by a small rocky waterfall.

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The second pond is larger. It is full of memories for me. When I was a child, my grandmother often took me to the Ermitage. In her huge bag she always carried old bread, and we stood on this wooden platform to feed the carps. I was surprised to find the wooden platform unchanged, but feeding the carps is no longer allowed. What do kids do today – do they play carp feeding on their iPhones?

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The rocky hill under the castle Birseck hosts attractions such as caves and hermits cells – I visited the monument for Jacques Delil (also called Virgil de Lille). He translated Virgil and he was a nature poet. After the revolution in France, he emigrated to Basel and wrote “les hommes du champs” that contains this wish: “If anyone would devote a monument to me, it should be under a poplar and near a creek.” He returned to France later and died in Paris in 1814 (Wikipedia ). Basel remembered his wish and erected this monument below the castle ruins..

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His wish is written on a slab that stands behind the monument

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It was the two Austrians with their Nordic Walking group that took me back to the Ermitage after many, many years. Arlesheim makes a nice target point with its magnificent cathedral (Dom). Our group enjoyed lunch in the friendly restaurant Rössli.

In case it would stop raining (it has been raining all July and August this year), I propose this picnic spot – it is just above the Ermitage in a romantic setting bordering the Gobenmatt creek. Of course it provides a luxury barbecue grill, as most barbecue places around Basel do.

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On the way to Schönmatt: The farm that looks like a boat: Ränggersmatt.

A third class road (Schönmattstrasse) leads from Arlesheim to the Schönmatt on the Gempen plateau. On the way there is the farm “¨Ränggersmatt“. In the late 18th century a man called Renker owned a small house on this meadow. In 1821 Conrad von Andlau built the farm with this hipped roof (Walmdach) that reminds me of a boat.

 

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Behind the Ränggersmatt I find another great picnic area… the wood is already waiting to be used for the next barbecue.

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And behind this picnic spot the Grenzweg (“border trail”) to the Schauenburg starts.

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The trail following the border between  two cantons and leading to the Schauenburger Flue

Yes, I have been on this trail before. I always came here with Ernst, and we balanced our mountain bikes over wet blocks of stone, when heading to the Gempen (Schartenfluh). I then always wondered, what these “stone blocks” were, but we never stopped to look at them more closely. The trail was slippery and needed caeful attention from us bikers. When I came here as a Nordic Walker, guided by my friends from Austria, they pointed out to me that this is the border between the canton of Rural Basel (Baselland) and the canton of Solothurn.

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And they showed to me that some of these boundary stones are old… this one is from 1660. 1660 – this was long before 1833, when Basel split into Basel Town (Baselstadt) and Rural Basel (Baselland), when the farmers revolted. In 1660 there was just one canton of Basel ruled by Basel Town. Hence, the boundary stone shows the emblem of Basel Town: It is a bishop’s crook with the handle looking left – and it is black on white (the color has faded here).

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The emblem of Rural Basel is also a bishop’s crook, but the handle looks to the right and is red. The inhabitants of the two Basel will vote about being reunified soon. Some parties in Rural Basel are against the reunification, as the red (rural) bishop’s crook on this poster says defending himself against the black crook attacking him.

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Wait a minute, what has happened to the emblem on this boundary stone of 1667. Also 1667 was long before 1833. Hence the crook has to be of  “Basel Town” with the handle pointing left. Yes, the crook’s handle is directed to the left, but someone has painted it red to make it look more like Rural Basel, But it is not quite right… Rural Basel would have to exchange all border stones….

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A Gallo-roman temple on the Schauenburger Flue

Another Nordic walking tour with Andreas took me to the Schauenburger Fluh above Frenkendorf. On the edge of the rock (Fluh in German or Flue in Swiss German) was a Gaelic and later a Roman temple. Not much is left  of it.

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On www2.rzgm.de, I find the detailed history of temples made for circumambulation (Umgangstempel) that could be found in Roman towns and also in salient locations such as wells, lakes or hills – the temple on the Schauenburger Fluh being one of the most extreme examples – built directly above the rock.  This is what historians think it looked like.

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Source: www2.rzgm.de

And this foto shows the cliffs from below (from Alt Schauenburg).

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Below the cliff is the hotel and restaurant Bad Schauenburg. When working for Ciba-Geigy and Roche in the 1980/90s, I spent some time here participating in brainwaves, enjoying the excellent food and the hotel in this quiet setting.

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There are more treasures around Basel

These were some of the treasures southwest of Basel. There are more… and I will continue to write about them. Looking back I just wonder why I knew so little about my homeland.