Sunrise in the minster crypt
Every year more and more people gather on the Pfalz, the terrace in front of the Basler Minster, on the morning of June 21st to witness the sunrise. On a clear day the summer solstice delivers an impressive show which is followed by a short celebration in the minster crypt. Shortly after five thirty the red sphere of the sun rises over the hills of the Hohen Möhr in the Black Forest. Following a direct line over St. Martin’s Church in Riehen and St. Theodor’s Church in Kleinbasel, the first rays of sunlight hit the chestnut trees in the Pfalz and continue, refracted by the leaves, through the central window in the minster choir. They shine through into the crypt, the original burial place of the Basler bishops, and cast a bright spot of light on the the opposite wall – an impressive phenomena that is certainly not a coincidence. Churches and chapels were often built on the site of ancient or prehistoric places of worship and these in turn were often positioned according to the celestial calender. The Basler Minster is built on the site of a Celtic Oppidum.