St Elisabeth Church

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Date of travel

August, 2016

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This is a splendid neo-Gothic building and its spire not only rivals that of Basel Cathedral but is also taller. It replaced an earlier smaller C16th church and was built by the wealthy business man Christoph Merian, as a suitable burial place for him and his wife. They are buried in black marble sarcophagi in the crypt and had their own private pew opposite the stone pulpit.

Money was no object and at a time when bricks were scarce and expensive in Switzerland, the church has ribbed brick ceiling. It was the first church to be built in the city since the Reformation.

Inside it is a very large church with an arcade of tall pillars soaring up to the roof. It is unusual that it has two pulpits, a carved wood pulpit and a stone pulpit with an elaborately carved wood canopy painted to resemble stone.

Around the chancel walls are carved wood choir stalls. The crowning glory of the church is the glorious window above the high altar depicting the Nativity, Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The colours glow in the sunlight. The rest of the windows disappointing in comparison, being grey and white glass with stained glass panels at the top.

There were plans to demolish the church in the 1980s but fortunately it was saved. It has been carefully renovated and is the home of the first Swiss ‘Open Church’ catering for the spiritual, cultural and social needs of all the people of Basel. It is open daily except Mondays and has a small cafe at the back. Visitors can also climb the tower for views across the city. it is worth a visit.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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