The story of the hotel Les Trois Rois
On the occasion of Epiphany, we focus on the Three Kings manor lodge on Blumenplatz which was opened on 20th July 1681. However, the oriental saints were not the architects of the renowned establishment. There are many stories about the Three Kings Hotel (Les Trois Rois). Most of them are true and others are just fairy tales. For example, there is a «Napoléon suite», but the French general never stayed there.
Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in Basel for just five hours
The first documented extension to the guesthouse near the medieval salt-tower in the south of the building took place in 1707. The wooden sculptures showing the three kings were added to the façade in 1754. On 24th November 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Basel at 10am. He crossed the bridge over the Birs river, went up the «Sägeberg» (today's Zürcherstrasse) and went to St. Alban gate where he was greeted by 40 cannon fires. Then he joined probably the most famous lunch ever to have taken place in the Three Kings Hotel. There was no time for a nap in one of the considerably highly priced rooms. At 3pm, Napoleon left the city, saluted once again by 40 cannon shots.
Theodor Herzl, founder of political Zionism
The old guesthouse was demolished in 1844 and rebuilt two years later in classicism style according to the plans of architect Amadeus Merian. In 1891, the first hydraulic lift was built in, and electricity was introduced in 1897. The same year, the Austrian-Hungarian author and journalist Theodor Herzl stayed in the Three Kings Hotel for the first time: The World Zionist Congress should have taken place in Munich which was not supported neither by the German Rabbi Association nor the managing board of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München. The congress therefore took place in Basel where Herzl formulated the Basel programme.
BOX: After the Congress, Herzl wrote into his diary «If I were to sum up the Basel Congress in one word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: In Basel, I founded the Jewish State.»
Conversions, renovations, new buildings
In 1911/12, the hotel was extended away from the Rhine with an extension in historic style (Blumenrain 10) together with a restaurant. The southern side wing was sold to the Basel Cantonal Bank. After it moved out of the building in 1938, the tourist office moved into the building at Schifflände. In 1954/55, the fourth floor at the side of the Rhine was rebuilt and the style of the roof was adjusted to fit in with the rest. Between 1969 and 1972, the hotel ran a nightclub called «Eve» in the medieval cellar (Blumenrain 10) before it was rented out to various operators who ran it under different names.
As well as the Japanese empress Michiko, James Joyce, and Pablo Picasso, musician and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan also stayed in the hotel, as well as the late and eight-times-married American actress Elizabeth Taylor, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and the Dalai Lama.
Thomas Straumann takes over the Trois Rois
After the Thomas Straumann family took over the hotel in 2004 and renovated it with great effort according to the plans of Basel architect Christian Lang, the hotel reopened on 20th March 2006 with a new shine.
Basler «Fasnachtsgasse» inaugurated
The newly named «Fasnachtsgasse» has been inaugurated by government member Baschi Dürr, the manager of the Fasnacht committee Christoph Bürgin, and the president of the name-commission Paul Haffner. The young guard of the Rhygwäggi played the music for this event. To coincide with the start of the badge sales for Fasnacht 2018, the «Fasnachtsgasse» was inaugurated in the heart of the city. In December, UNESCO put the Basler Fasnacht on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. During the preparation works for this, the former manager of the committee, Felix Rudolf von Rohr, applied for a street to be named after the Basler Fasnacht. It came after two similar applications were rejected in recent years due to a lack of appropriate locations. However, the naming commission has now found a possibility to name a street in the heart of the city after the Fasnacht. Baschi Dürr, director of the Department for Justice and Security, supported the application of the naming commission. The «Fasnachtsgasse» is a pedestrian link between Barfüsserplatz and Barfüssergasse on the right hand side of the Barfüsserkirche.
Rhine in Basel reopened for traffic
The Rhine had been closed in the region to all traffic due to high floodwaters following a storm earlier this week which caused major disruption. However, once the water level sank, it was possible to reopen the river to traffic on Saturday. Large cargo ships could travel between Basel and Kembs, while smaller boats and ferries were still banned. At the height of Basel-Rheinhalle the ban was lifted completely, the district headquarters Basel by the Swiss Port of Basel wrote in a press release. The ban had been put in place on Thursday night after the Rhine had reached critical water levels following the heavy rain. Ships were initially banned from travelling between Basel and Birsfelden, and later between the lock at Kembs and Rheinfelden.