Messerturm (Knife Tower)
The Messerturm stands impressively at the north-eastern end of the old town on the Rhine, and many stories surround it and how it got its name.
The pillory punishment imposed by the «lower jurisdiction» was a boon compared to what the court of blood had to offer those subjected to it. Torture and cruel methods of execution determined the «high jurisdiction», which was also exercised by the town of Rheinfelden. According to legend, torture was carried out in the «obern stüblin» of the Knife Tower, which, directly on the Rhine, formed the north-eastern end of the ring wall. The «upper stüblin» was only accessible from the battlements.
Origin of the name of the tower.
Perhaps the Messerturm got its name because it «cuts» the Rhine's floodwaters: it has a triangular ground plan and is built out into the riverbed.
The Rheinfelden city guides, however, prefer to tell the scary version...
The legend of the knife tower.
In the said torture chamber there was a trapdoor that led into a shaft studded with knives. Anyone who was pushed into it would end up chopped to pieces in the Rhine. And when the city guide has his macabre day, he adds one more thing on top: Because the people of the Rheinfeld pushed so many delinquents into the knife shaft, the salmon in the Rhine became so numerous and fat that they could serve as poor people's food in Basel.
Fancy more stories, legends and sagas? The city tour «Legendary History» tells eerily beautiful stories from the Old Town.
The Knife Tower is not open to the public.
Booking of guided tours
Stadtbüro, Marktgasse 16
+41 61 835 52 00