Basel - Great Swiss Collectors

Prices from £2,295


16 Oct 2020 - 21 Oct 2020
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: 20BASE
With: Thomas Abbott


Prices from £2,295
Single Supplement: from £200
Deposit: £200

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Few cities merge history and tradition with cutting-edge design quite like Basel. Thanks to its position of the banks of the mighty Rhine, the city has been an important centre of trading, culture and learning since the Renaissance period. The University of Basel, Switzerland’s oldest, was founded here in 1460 by Pope Pius II. Such was its renown by the 16th century that the great Dutch scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam travelled to the city to teach at the institution for several years. Hans Holbein the Younger also arrived in the city during this period, finding a thriving paper and printing industry as well as a flourishing circle of humanist scholars and prosperous patricians, fertile ground for a young and ambitious artist. Holbein spent a decade working in the city and it was owing to this connection that in 1661, the city fathers purchased 20 works by the artist. Basel’s art collection has since swelled to an impressive 40 museums and galleries, and an established cultural status, coupled with a lucrative pharmaceuticals industry, has seen the construction of several landmark buildings designed by some of the most eminent contemporary architects of our time. Tom Abbott leads this new Art Pursuits Abroad tour, which explores the many layers of this intriguing city


“Basel is a city for art lovers, being rich in both culture and design. Nowhere else seamlessly blends history and tradition with the cutting-edge quite like this magnetic city.”

Tom Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th. In 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours mainly in Germany, specialising in the German capital.


Morning flight from London Heathrow to Basel. Transfer by private coach to Goetheanum, the huge and otherworldly concrete structure designed by Rudolf Steiner in 1923 as a centre for his philosophy of Anthroposophy, which combines spirituality and science. Time permitting, we will also stop at the peaceful Ermitage Arlesheim, a romantic celebration of nature and the largest English-style landscape garden in Switzerland. Continue to Basel to check in to our hotel before enjoying an evening meal together.


A day to explore Basel on foot and admire the handsome architecture of the Old Town. Our first stop is the Kunstmuseum, where we will pay particular attention to works of the German Renaissance, including the museum’s comprehensive Holbein collection. Other highlights are impressively wide-ranging, with works from Rubens to Rousseau. In the afternoon we wander on to the striking red sandstone minster, built in c. 1200 and housing the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam. In the afternoon we experience the kinetic creations of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely at the Museum Tinguely along with some additional exhibits in the area.


This morning we leave the city to visit the wonderful Foundation Beyeler in nearby Riehen. In the grounds of an idyllic park, the museum, designed by Renzo Piano to ‘serve art, and not the other way round’, houses an extensive collection of modern art, including works by Monet, Picasso, Matisse and Giacometti to name just a few. In the afternoon we cross the border into Germany to visit the spectacular Vitra Campus, a wonderland for lovers of modern design. The remarkable complex includes buildings designed by some of the most distinguished architects of the last century, such as Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Vitra are manufacturers of some of the world’s most iconic examples of product design, which are on show in the VitraHaus, while exhibitions in the Vitra Design Museum explore the relationship between art, design and the everyday. Return to Basel.


After breakfast at our hotel we make our way to Basel Schifflande where we board a river cruise to enjoy the Rhine on a trip through the locks at Birsfelden on the way to Rheinfelden and discover the city and region from the water on a lunch cruise as far as the border triangle. After returning from our cruise in the mid afternoon the rest of the day and evening is at leisure.


A second day in Basel to further explore the rich cultural offerings of the city. Visit the Historisches Museum in the Barfüsserkirche, a former Franciscan church and home to the Treasury of Basel Minster. Highlights include fragments of the famous Dance of Death mural, painted around 1400, and an exquisite installation of a ‘Kunst- und Wunderkammer’, a cabinet of art and curiosities. In the afternoon we will walk down to the riverbank where Basel’s historic paper mill was first established in 1453. After the Papal Council of 1431 to 1449 was staged in Basel, the need for writing material increased. The Paper Mill Museum gives a fascinating insight into historic procedures of paper making and book printing from the late Middle Ages. In the evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together.


We check out of our hotel after breakfast and drive east of Basel, to the Roman archaeological site Augusta Raurica, a 2000-year-old settlement complete with amphitheatre. After some time to explore this remarkably well-preserved site, the largest in Switzerland, we continue to Basel airport for an afternoon flight to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £2295 per person
Actual single room supplement: £200
Double room for sole use supplement: £350
'No flights' price: £2095
Deposit: £200


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Basel
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Five nights’ bed and breakfast in the 3* Hotel Basel, Basel
  • Two dinners and two lunches
  • Guided visits to sights and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Basel, Basel

The modern Hotel Basel is located in the heart of beautiful Basel’s old city, and is surrounded by fine historic buildings, sitting just above Market Square (Marktplatz) and the town hall (Rathaus). The central location in the pedestrian area allows guests to enjoy Basel’s sightseeing attractions or do some leisurely window-shopping on foot. Guests can dine on market fresh cuisine in the Brasserie restaurant and enjoy a relaxing drink in the Sperber Bar. In summer the Boulevard terrace is the perfect place to watch the world go by. Rooms are fully equipped with air conditioning, a TV with radio, telephone, complimentary Wi-Fi, a hairdryer and safe.