t Basel's riverside Old Town under the towering presence of the cathedral
Experience Northern Switzerland
Bordered by the Rhine to the north and the Jura to the southwest, this relatively flat area was settled by the Celts around 450 BC. By 44 BC, the Romans, attracted by the trade opportunities opened by the Rhine, founded the town of Augusta Raurica, in the area east of what is now Basel, and soon spread westwards. On the banks of the Rhine, this port town soon became a centre of commerce, developing a wealthy merchant class. At the behest of a Papal bull, Basel Council established Switzerland’s oldest university here, in 1460, to educate its wealthy sons. Around this time, Baden, to the east, had become an ad hoc capital city for the expanding Swiss Confederation, and the regular meeting place for the executive council. A popular spa town since Roman times, thanks to its natural thermal springs, Baden’s reputation as a resort began to spread in the 15th century. Refugees of the War of Religion brought trade and industry to the flourishing northern cantons throughout the 1500s, and, by the 19th century, northern Switzerland was industrialized, and had become the country’s most populated region.