Saturday, December 10, 2016

Basel, Switzerland - Rathaus and Work of Hans Bock

Rathaus, pronounced Roothuus NOT Rat House, is the town hall building for Basel.  It houses the meetings for the Cantonal Parliament as well as the government for the canton of Basel-Stadt.

Ok, I will decipher. "Canton" is a member state of Swiss Confederation.  There are 26 of them.  The word "rathaus" means "council house" and the term "roothuus" in the local German dialect means both council house and red house, a pun with reference to the red sandstone of the building. (Wikipedia said this, I am not making it up!)

First, here is a view of a local snack house.

 This is the overall view of the Rathaus with the Marktplatz (market place) in front of it.

And details of the building.  It was originally built to replace a Town Hall that was in ruin after an earthquake.  When Basel joined the Swiss Confederation, a new front was added with the coat of arms and symbols of 11 other members (the number at the time).  At the beginning of the 17th century the building was extended and the artist Hans Bock decorated the facade with painted trompe d'oeil.   In 1900 the building was extended to the left and the tower on the right was added.

"Trompe l'oeil" is a French word for "deceive the eye" and it is an art technique that uses imagery to create an optical illusion that objects exist in three dimensions.  An example of the technique on this building is shown below with the man in the archway.  Hans Bock, a German artist, painted in the 16th century and flourished in Basel.  This building is his most impressive work.

On to the market and other sights.

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