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Gundeli – The Village Behind the Bahnhof

This article first appeared on 21st November 2004.

The Gundeldingen area of Basel (more usually know as the Gundeli) is, in my humble opinion, a great area to live in, but it’s possibly not for everyone. The area itself lies roughly between the Bahnhof SBB and rail lines to the North, Margarethen Park to the South, the Zoo to the West and M-Parc to the East, so actually takes up quite a lot of the city. Despite this, it has the impression of being quite compact, and almost feels like its own individual village. The area is well served by bus and tram lines (i.e. the number 2, which runs up Margarethenstrasse, the 15 and 16, which rumble along either end of Gueterstrasse, and the 36, which travels along Gundeldingerstrasse towards St Jakob, and along Dornacherstrasse in the other direction).

The area is well served with shops and other amenities, with the added bonus of the Bahnhof and RailCity on the doorstep. In this unique area, we have shops that cater for every need, taste and activity, such as fishing, climbing, drumming, general sports, cycling, sewing and dressmaking, computers, office equipment, and many more! In fact, whatever hobby or need you can think of, there is probably a shop in Gundeli that caters for it. However, it has to be said that Gundeli is mostly residential, and there are plenty of quieter side streets away from the hustle and bustle of the main drag. In terms of apartment size and style, there is a very wide range, from small to large and from old to modern.

Gundeli could also be said to be very cosmopolitan and non-typically Swiss – we have a few general stores that open late during the week and on Sundays, for instance. Of course, we also have RailCity close by as well, so Gundeli may be better situated for those emergency trips to the supermarket than some sections of Basel!

A number of good restaurants are also located here, again catering to a wide range of palates, e.g. Thai, Chinese, Pizza, Italian, Tibetan (yes, you read right – Tibetan!), etc. as well as traditional Swiss. There is also a fair number of takeaway outlets, many open until well into the night for when you’ve had a long, hard day at work and can’t face the thought of slaving over a hot stove. Likewise, a good and varied selection of bars and cafes awaits you after working hours. One of my favourites is Eo Ipso, located in an old factory/warehouse in the Gundeldingerfeld, on the corner of Dornacherstrasse and Bruderholzstrasse. They do a nice selection of cocktails, spirits and beers, some bar food in the form of tapas, and also do some very nice meals in the separate restaurant.

Margarethen Park to the South end of Gundeli is fairly big and has tennis courts in its grounds. The park also has some nice areas for a short walk on a Sunday afternoon, although one drawback is that dogs are not allowed inside. Nearby is a running track (a 440m circuit), covered with wood chips rather than concrete so is nice and springy for those of us, myself included, whose knees and back ainít what they used to be! For those less athletically inclined, there is the Bowling Centre Basel, a 10-pin bowling centre located in Gueterstrasse. There are also dance centres/studios and a selection of places for a strenuous workout or some more gentle exercise in the form of pilates or yoga.

We’re also close enough to the main town that a short 20-minute walk will take you into the centre, but far enough away that Gundeli has a completely different feel to the areas around it.

However, I said at the beginning that Gundeli is not for everyone. Why? Well some may have bigger issues with the whole cosmopolitan feel and flavour of the area, and the more generally laid-back nature of many of the people who live here. I did say it was quite non-typically Swiss, and that’s not only a result of the number of non-Swiss residents, but also because many of the Swiss in the area are themselves non-typical; many I know are artists, musicians, writers etc. Normal Swiss house rules and regulations still apply, for example, but may be a bit less fanatically adhered to than in some places.

Although there may be slightly fewer English-speaking expats than there used to be, I have to say Gundeli works for us, and anyone looking for a good, well-situated and catered for area to live in could do a lot worse than check out the area. If you do, and happen to fall in love with it like we did, then the best of luck to you!

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