RDP#11: Bastion

Schanz Solothurn

I live in a bastion, not quite, but our local town is just a walk along the road is a bastion. I suppose it all began as a useful place to settle according to the Romans when they arrived, There was a river, a few bridges and women of course. At the time Switzerland did not even really exist, just a tribe until someone decided that were Helvetians, so at least the Romans had a name for the Swiss.

With time the Romans mixed with the Helvetians after nights filled with wine and whatever,  and children were born that eventually forgot heir ancestors came from Rome. In this delightful place where the storks built nests, and the streets were cobbled (yes thank you Romans) it was decided to build a defence. I suppose is all began with a gate into the town on the East  side: the Basel gate because it was on the road to Basel. No-one seemed to like the Basel people so they had to be kept out. This had to be balanced by a gate on the West leading to Biel and now known as the Biel Gate, although the Biel people are OK. Half of them speak French and it is a nice place to go shopping.

In the South there was a gate leading to Bern which no longer exists. It seemed to have been replaced by a restaurant as far as I know. There is also an entrance in the North through a gate named after a few monks and their group, the Franziskaner gate. All these gates were solidly built, in the style of the fortress in the photo. That is part of the fortifications circling the town. So the Solothurn people were quite safe. With so much brick and cement who could invade? The green grass was a moat filled with water when it was built just to make sure.

I am not really sure why they had to defend. It was all to do with religion in those days. Solothurn was roman catholic and there were some reform church Zwingli followers around, so I supposed all this defence was to stop the others, although it was difficult for the Solothurn people to escape. Of course you had an army of people making sure that everyone stayed where they should be. Just imagine looking after all those keys.

Today the remains of the bastions are still to be seen, and the roads were built around them as it was all under monument protection. At least we have a few tourist attractions.  Now and again someone might start digging somewhere for a new building. It is not surprising when old roman walls are found and near the hospital they even found the outline of a Roman villa. Even in our village the neighbouring apartment block was built and they had to remove a few skeletons at first, because it was on the site near the gallows.

At the moment I live in my own bastion, because the lock on the outside door has been replaced and we only have one key that fits: no problem, five keys have been ordered.

Solothurn 05.04 (15)

RDP#11: Bastion

5 thoughts on “RDP#11: Bastion

  1. Amazing how long those Roman cobblestone streets last. Israel had a lot of them. They were in much better shape than newer roads. Boston has a lot of them too, from the 1700s and 1800s. They look great but I have fallen and twisted a lot of ankles in those cobbles.

    I did not realize your town was one of the old Roman sites. That explains a lot.

    They sure did know how to build, those Romans. We should bring them back and have them put in new roads that might last more than one winter!

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    • The original cobblestones are no longer there. The Romans left many years ago, and it was our brilliant town Councillors that decided to repave the streets of the old town with cobblestones.They are not suitable for travelling with a wheelchair, can get quite bumpy. Walking is also precarious especially for me and if it snows the ice covered cobblestones are not ideal. The town was founded during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14-37 A.D.) one of the oldest in Switzerland, if not the oldest. Probably a few Romans were spending their summer holiday in Switzerland and decided to stay. Later on the original Roman touch disappeared and it is now well known for its baroque atmosphere.

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  2. How interesting. We also have in Pamplona city walls built up over the original roman ones. And yes, when they dig to build something in the old quarter, skeletons and remains of roman streets and buildings appear and everything has to stop to wait for the the archeologists to study the area and decide what to do.

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