Ulm Monster
The Monster in Ulm, Germany, the tallest church in the world.

April 15, 2010

Ulm, Germany, founded around 850, is one of the most fascinating places that I routinely visited when I lived in Germany.  It is located almost half-way between Stuttgart and Munich.  The Blau and Iller rivers join the Danube River at Ulm.  I collected a couple of liters of Danube River water during one of my visits – we used it in the Baptism of both my daughter’s children.  Ulm is the birthplace of Albert Einstein.  I finished reading a biography of Einstein last year – he was truly a remarkable man.  The location where Einstein was born no longer exists – it was engulfed in flames as part of the bombing in 1944.  There is a small memorial in the Bahnhofstrasse, between the newspaper offices and the bank.

One of the most spectacular places to visit in all of Europe is the ‘Monster’ – the Ulm Minster – started in 1377 and completed in 1891.  It is the tallest church in the world.  The Monster is an extremely fine example of Gothic church architecture.  I spend at least an hour wandering in and around this church every time I go to Ulm.  If the wait is not too long, I’ll climb to the top of the church spire – 161.53 meters, or almost 530 feet tall.  Officially, there are 768 steps going to the top, but it’s more than that when you add the additional steps you have to take to get to the entrance to the spire.  The climb is a constant spiral with openings at regular intervals.  This is not a climb for the faint at heart – it is narrow and crowded with people always going in the opposite direction that you are going in (up or down).  The view is worth it when you get to the top (or not to the top) – you can actually get within a couple meters of the very top of the spire.  On a clear day you can see the Alps – about 100 kilometers to the south.

The Monster is the second largest church in the world – second only to the Cathedral in Koln (Cologne), Germany.  You will see many works of art – both architectural as well as painting, as you wander through the inside of the church.  Choir stalls built by Jorg Syrlin the Elder in the 15th century are acclaimed world-wide.  Hans Multscher’s Man of Sorrows is on the main portal.  Photography is allowed and it is not too dark to take decent pictures.  The church is still an active church and visitor hours are posted outside.  Generally speaking the cathedral is open every day from around 0900 to late afternoon.  Check with the ticket taker about the hours for climbing the spire – there is a charge for climbing.  The church has amazing choir renditions – also check with performance dates.

Astronomical Clock in Ulm
Astronomical Clock in Ulm

A very short distance from the Monster is the Town Hall (Rathaus).  As typical with most European town halls, it is very decorative, featuring some outstanding murals dating from the mid-16th century.  It has an astronomical clock on one gable that was built in 1520.  A short distance from the Rathaus is the Fischerviertel (fisherman’s quarter).  This area is worth getting lost in because of the half-timbered homes, cobblestone streets and very picturesque footbridges.  A very unusual house has been converted into a hotel – the Schiefes Haus – it is known as the crookedest house in the world.  When you see it, you will understand why it got that name.  Another noteworthy place to visit is the Old Mint (Alte-Munz).  It was built in the 16th century.


Crookedest House
Crookedest House

Just outside the fisherman’s quarter lay the remains of the city’s wall.  It parallels the Danube River and there is one tower on the wall of interest – the Metsgerturm (butchers’ tower).  It is 36 meters tall (118 feet).  The Krone Inn is a short distance from the fisherman’s quarter.  It is a medieval complex of several 15th and 16th century homes where German kings and emperors stayed when passing through that part of Germany.  There are several large buildings – Schworhaus, Kornhaus, Salzstadel, Buchsenstadel, Zeughaus, Neuer Bau and others that were built in the Middle Ages and have been used primarily for storage of food and weapons.

Ulm is a great place for fun, food, sight-seeing and just wandering around.  I was walking through one of the parks and came across an older couple enjoying the park bench.  I asked for directions to a particular place and was pleased to have found two Americans (former school teachers) who retired in Ulm.  The people are very courteous and helpful.  Ulm is not far off the main autobahn system and certainly worth the time you spend there.  It is not uncommon to take dozens of photos of just the Monster.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

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