The St. Paul Church and St. Antonius Church in Basel
8 November 2022
Basel’s population increased from 30 000 in 1850 to over 100 000 in 1900. The city expanded and planned neighbourhoods for various target groups. Rental houses for workers, houses with business space for the middle class and exclusive residential homes for the wealthy.
The area around Saint Paul’s Church was for the bourgeoisie., with large houses with gardens. This new neighbourhood was also to have an evangelical-reformist centre, the Paulus Church.
The architects Karl Moser (1860-1936) and Robert Curiel (1859-1925) were commissioned. Several local artists provided stained-glass windows, sculptures, decorations, and other reliefs. Moser is also the architect of the Badische Bahnhof in Kleinbasel, the German railway station on Swiss territory.
The construction of the church was completed in 1901. The first remarkable feature is the religious sculpture of persons in this Protestant church. The Romanesque and Gothic styles and decoration and architecture are also exceptional. These are typically Catholic.
The sizeable Gothic window is also reminiscent of a Catholic church. The Art Nouveau figures and motifs fit the spirit of the time but are also worth mentioning for a religious building. The portal, too, is reminiscent of a Romano-Gothic monastery.
The result, however, was a distinct style in the proper proportions. The style was so popular that several houses in the immediate vicinity adapted to the type of church. Twenty-five years later, a similar development took place in Dornach near the Goetheanum, on a much larger scale and in the Art Deco style.
Since 2019, St Paul’s Church no longer has a religious function, and since 2021 it has been a cultural centre, including for musical performances because of its good acoustics and extraordinary architecture.
It was exceptional in the 20th century that a religious building set the tone for the architecture and style of the residential area. It may not have proved enough to engage believers, but religiously inspired chanting will often be heard there.
Karl Moser, The Antoniuskirche, 1927. The first Swiss church in concrete. The windows are made by Hans Stocker (1896-1983) and Otto Staiger (1894-1967), and the sculpture is made by Max Uehlinger (1894-1981).
Karl Moser, and something completely different, or not ? Badischer Bahnhof Basel, 1913, and Carl Burckhardt (1878-1923), the ‘Brunnengruppe Rhein und Wiese’, 1921.
Source and further information: Kulturkirche Paulus