Basel is well worth exploring – whether or not you are travelling to the city to watch the UEFA Europa League Final.
When Liverpool FC beat their Spanish opponents Villareal in the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League, their charismatic German manager, Jurgen Klopp, encouraged Liverpool fans to head to Basel even without a ticket for the final against Spanish team Sevilla on 18th May. “They can have a party there. It’s a lovely city,” he said, “and it’s not very far from my home. Fifty, sixty, seventy thousand fans could travel there”. Klopp was actually born in the German city of Stuttgart, but became famous as the manager of the very successful Borussia Dortmund team. He became manager of Liverpool in October 2015.
Despite Klopp’s invitation to fans, they have been officially discouraged from heading to Basel without a ticket. Liverpool’s allocation of tickets for the final will only amount to 10,000, meaning a lot of loyal fans will be disappointed and that surely many will indeed head to Basel to try and buy a ticket locally and just to savour the atmosphere in the city.
The match will take place in St. Jakob-Park, in the south-east of Basel about 3 kilometres from the city centre. St. Jakob-Park is the largest stadium in Switzerland and home to the Swiss club FC Basel. The city of Basel lies in the northwest of Switzerland where the Swiss, French and German borders meet and it also has suburbs in France and Germany. It is considered to be the cultural capital of Switzerland, with a beautiful historical city centre and nearly 40 museums. Whilst it is unlikely that many Liverpool fans will want to visit any museums during their stay, they may well want to spend time in the Marktplatz in the city centre. When entering the Marktplatz (Market place) the first thing that catches the eye is the colourful Rathaus (Town Hall). A market takes place here every day of the week. Lovers of good food can find delicious local produce on the market stalls, as well as many specialities from the wider region and indeed the whole of Switzerland.
Visitors to Basel might like to visit Theaterplatz, with its unusual carnival fountain designed by sculptor Jean Tinguely which stands at the former spot of the stage of Basel Theatre. They are also recommended to walk under the imposing Spalentor tower – the most impressive of three surviving medieval gateways to Basel dating back some 700 years.
Basel’s cathedral was built between the years 1019 and 1500 in Romantic and Gothic styles. The piazza in which the cathedral stands is today a popular meeting place and is often used for concerts and events. The Pfalz – the terrace offering wonderful views over the Rhine – is probably the best-loved viewpoint in the city. On one side of the viewing terrace are steps that lead down to the landing jetty of the Münster ferry. On the other side there is a small gateway leading to the quiet cloisters of the cathedral.
So …. Basel is a very attractive and interesting city, with plenty to see whether or not you are also going to watch a football match!