Basel, or Basle, bäl (French:Bâle, bäl), Switzerland, the country's second largest city and the capital of the half-canton of Basel-Stadt. It lies on the Rhine River, some 40 miles (65 km) north of Bern, the national capital. Basel is one of Switzerland's leading manufacturing, commercial, and financial centers and a major inland port and railway hub. Products include chemicals, machinery, and pharmaceuticals.
Among landmarks in the old quarter are the Münster (Cathedral), which has sections that date to the 9th century, and the Rathaus (Town Hall), most of which dates to the 16th century. There are many museums, the most famous being the Kunstmuseum, for art. The Swiss Industries Fair is held in Basel annually. The University of Basel, opened in 1460, is Switzerland's oldest university.
Basel evolved from a Roman fortress that was probably built in about 15 B.C. The Council of Basel, which met 1431–49, engaged in a power struggle with the papacy and in 1439 set up an antipope. The 18th century was Basel's golden age, a period in which many of the city's fine buildings were erected. After a peasant revolt in the early 1830's, Basel canton was divided into half-cantons.