Built after the devastating earthquake of 1356, Sankt Johanns-Tor or St. John’s Gate was once part of the medieval city walls. The city fortifications consisted of 7 gates, 40 towers, 42 battlements and approximately 1,200 merlons. From these seven gateways, only three stand still today, with one of them being Sankt Johanns-Tor and the other two being the Spalentor and Sankt Alban-Tor.
The gatehouse was not annexed to St. John’s Gate until 1473, with the Burgundian Wars on the horizon. In the year 1670, ornamental sculptures, which included the escutcheon, the oriel and grimacing embrasures, were appended to the facade of the gate. However, the grimacing faces found on the Tor today are replica that were added to the gate in 1921. The original sculptures can be seen in the Historical Museum of Basel.
In 1577, more amendments were done to the gate; this time a bastion was added to reinforce the fortifications, and in 1583 the gate was enhanced through the substitution of the gliding door (portcullis) with a system of robust vertical oak beams capable of being individually controlled to block the entire entrance or just part of it.
Location: St. Johanns-Ring, 4056 Basel