Spalentor (Spalen Gate)


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round 1200, a second outer fortification of the town was built. That is why the flying buttress, a gate of the old interior city wall, was moved to the other end of the Petersgraben. The Spalentor, which consists of three joined towers, was the most beautiful of the formerly seven existing gates which had all belonged to the new city wall. When the gate was constructed, it was very important that it had a good overall appearance because it closed off the entrance to Basel from the Alsatians who used to be the most important trading partner of the city. The roof was covered with colourful glazed tiles. Whereas the main middle tower is retangular, the other two towers are round. In the second half of the 15th century, the Spalentor was widened by building another gate in front of it. The gate has two kinds of portcullises which can still be seen today.

Up to the middle of the 19th century, Basel had been protected by a city wall. But in 1859, a law was enacted in favour of the expansion of the town. As a consequence, the city wall had to give way and the ditches were filled up. However, there are still three existing gates; the Spalentor, the St. Johannstor and the St. Albantor. Moreover, some parts of the ancient city wall are still around. At times, the Spalentor also served as a prison.

On the gate (towards the town) one can see a letterbox dating back to the time of the cantonal postal system. It has been designed by Melchior Berri. Additionally, a stamp with the same design ("Basler Dybli" = dove of Basel) came into use, which has a great value today. The "Basler Dybli" is the first multicoloured stamp in the world. It is possible to visit the inside of the Spalentor (Feuerwache, Kornhausgasse 18).