The surrounding neighborhood contains much to explore. We have started a series on places that might be of interest, with the first an introduction to Kannenfeld Park.


Kannenfeld Park – Breathing New Life into a City Cemetery

Brigitta Hänggi & Andrew Craven

Across the street from the main entrance to Westfeld lies Basel’s largest park - Kannenfeld. Enclosing an area of 9.1 ha (more than 22 football fields), the walls of today’s Kannenfeld Park separate this intimate yet generous green space from the bustle of the surrounding City. Here, the visitor will find an enchanting area for both recreation and relaxation. Popular with walkers and joggers, there are spaces for both solitude and play, all enriched by collections of flowers, fountains, a garden theatre, a variety of magnificent trees and much more. The imposing figure of the outsize “laughing giant” is a special favourite. But this modern use of Kannenfeld hides a long and quite different history.

 


 Originally farmland, the original “Gottesacker” – God's Acre – was re-modelled in 1868, following a design drawn up by the famous Basel architect, Amadeus Merian. During the following six decades, it served as a cemetery for the entire Greater Basel area. During that time, a total of 46,000 burials took place, requiring the area to be expanded more than once. However, with the opening of the main cemetery at Hörnli (Riehen) in 1932, burials were discontinued and in 1952 the Gottesacker was closed; 1,300 family graves and 6,000 row graves were cleared and the building housing the chapel/salon was demolished.

Much remains however: the mighty entrance portal with the four biblical prophets on Burgfelderstrasse, the enclosure wall, the gardener's house and several monuments. Gradually a conversion into a public green space developed. The city gardeners of the time built the first playgrounds, paddling pools, a kiosk and the garden theatre.

To this day, the park is still a work in progress, constantly being upgraded, adapted and expanded.

 

By the time Wohnen+ Basel moves in, the regular programme of concerts and other events should be in full flow, including the scheduled planting of the Tree of the Year 2021 (Holly). However, because of Covid, many of this year’s events have been cancelled or postponed. Still, Covid or not, the City continues to maintain a regularly updated calendar of park events.
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