he Fabrica was printed in Basel, Switzerland, at the site known as the Schönes Haus, or Beautiful House – an inspiring setting for a splendid book.
By Dr. Ueli Dill, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University Library of Basel
The ‘Schönes Haus’ is a beautifully preserved building in the charming old town of Basel, Switzerland, built around 1271 and used today by the Department of English Studies at the University of Basel. The original edition of De Fabrica might have been printed on the premises of the ‘Schönes Haus’ in 1543; the second edition in 1555 certainly was. Why did Vesalius have the De Fabrica printed in this splendid stately home? In the 13th century when the ‘Schönes Haus’ was erected, it was built for nobility, situated on a beautiful plateau with only a few buildings in its surroundings at the time, giving the owners a fantastic view over the city of Basel. It offered – and still does – a lot of working space with ample adjacent land, which is essential for a printer’s shop. A printer had to handle large quantities of paper and therefore needed large rooms for work and storage, as well as space for shelter for the carts and stables for his horses.