Local History

Basel, Basilisk Wettsteinbrücke Photo/Bild: TES.

The Wettsteinbrücke and its Guardian

The Wettsteinbrücke (bridge), named after a mayor of Basel (Johann Rudolf Wettstein 1594-1666), was ready on June 7, 1879. The rapid growth of trade and population of Grossbasel and Kleinbasel made a second bridge over the Rhine necessary. The Mittlere Brücke had become far too small. The increased car traffic and the construction of a tramway led to a first widening of the bridge in 1939. That did cause casualties: the four Basilisks that guarded the access on both sides of the Rhine were removed. It led to a diaspora of Basilisks. One Basilisk ended up in the Lange Erlen Animal Park in Basel, the second in a courtyard in Basel and a third in Meggen on the Lake of Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee). The fourth Basilisk also went into exile, but since the renovation and second widening of the bridge in 1996 it has been guarding the Rhine bank on the side of Grossbasel again.