History: Ulm’s medieval Guilds (Zünfte)
You will stumble over place names related to the medieval guilds all the time, be it a whole quarter like Fischerviertel (Fishermen’s Quarter), buildings/restaurants like Gerberhaus (Tanners House) or even Zunfthaus (Guild House), a tower like Metzgerturm (Butcher Tower) or street names like Fischergasse and Gerbergasse (Fishermen’s and Tanners Lane).
According to “Großer Schwörbrief” (Great Oath Bill) from 1397, these were the original 17 medieval guilds (Zünfte):
Kramer = grocers
Kaufleute = merchants
Grautucher = merchants who traded woolen fabrics
Schmiede = blacksmiths
Bäcker = bakers
Müller = (flour) millers
Fischer = fishermen
Metzger = butchers
Kürschner = peltmongers/furriers
Weber = weavers
Schneider = tailors
Schuster = shoemakers
Rotgerber = tanners
Bauleute (Gärtner) = gardeners
Merzler = small grocers (similar to Kramer)
Schreiner = joiners
Bader (Wundärzte) = "bathers" = they bathed people in public baths
Later, four more guilds were added:
Maurer = bricklayers/masons
Bierbrauer = beer brewers
Zimmerleute = carpenters
Tucherer = they dyed fabrics
Schwörmontag/Schwörwoche (Oath Monday and Week)
As said in other tips already, Schwörmontag is Ulm’s biggest day of the year. It is the end and pinnacle of the Schwörwoche festivities. In 2009 the date is 20 July.
At about 11am of Schwörmontag (third Monday in July) the Lord Mayor starts his speech (Schwörrede)on the Schwörhaus balcony. At the end of his speech the Schwörglocke (Oath Bell) rings, and he swears to be a true and honest representative of the rich and the poor, in German: “… Reichen und Armen ein gemeiner Mann zu sein in allen gleichen, gemeinsamen und redlichen Dingen ohne allen Vorbehalt, so wahr mir Gott helfe“. This is the renewal of the historic oath, given in the Großer Schwörbrief (Great Oath Bill) from 1397.
In case of rain the Schwörfeier (Oath Celebration) takes place in the cathedral (Ulmer Münster).
The highlight of Schwörmontag is the so-called Nabada on the Danube, a kind of Carnival procession on the water. This starts at about 4pm and can be seen on a 7 kilometre stretch on the Danube, so from along the whole historic city centre to the fairgrounds in Friedrichsau. (See extra tip)
After that many people flock on the fairgrounds (Volksfestplatz) for the last of the ten days of the fun carnival with roundabouts, lottery booths, candy floss, food and beer, others first attend the traditional football game of SSV Ulm 1846 against a popular team at Donaustadion.
The whole park is filled with music and fun. There are the traditional beer gardens (Teutonia, Liederkranz, Hundskomödie), but also lots and lots of other mobile beer gardens that are put up for the day only. Such congregations of people sitting together are called “Hockete”, the word deriving from the verb “hocken”, which in Hochdeutsch means: to squat. In Schwäbisch (Swabian) it just means: to sit. All over Friedrichsau coloured lightbulbs lighten the night. Best you bring a blanket or folding chair if you want to sit on Dianawiese – a big lawn in Friedrichsau – and secure a good seat along the river for the Nabada.
On nearly all squares in the city you find such outdoor seating for more “Hockete”, and there is live music and food stalls at nearly every corner. The whole city becomes one big party place.
More events of Schwörwoche (Oath Week)
A very much loved part of Schwörwoche is the Lichterserenade (Serenade of Lights). It takes place on the Saturday before Schwömontag. It starts between 9.30 and 10pm, just when it is dark enough to enjoy about 10,000 lit candles floating on the Danube. They are set onto the water at the height of Fischerplätzle and float down to Friedrichsau park, thus create a several kilometres long trail of light. And if this were not already impressive enough, they shoot fireworks into the sky from floats on the river.
On the Sunday evening before Schwörmontag (so on 19 July in 2009) there is a big open air concert on Münsterplatz. This is one of the few events you have to pay for if you want to have a closer look – but really, if you stay outside the barriers you hear as much as from close up, just do not see the star or the band. This year (2009) Simply Red will play. Be warned: The crowds outside the enclosed area are huge. You will still succeed to make your way through but it will take a while. If you want to get from A to B quickly take a more distant itinerary.
Tickets for Simply Red/start at 7pm, cost 61.55 Euro. See here:
Every four years only the so-called Fischerstechen (Fishermen’s Fights) takes place on the two Sundays leading up to Schwörmontag. The day starts in the city centre with a beautiful procession of about 300 people in historic costumes. Then they perform historic dances on various squares (Fischertanz). In the afternoon the actual Fischerstechen of traditional Ulm characters takes place on the Danube. These fights comprise 15 fighting couples, for example, the Tailor of Ulm fights against the Ulm Sparrow, the King of Bavaria against the King of Baden-Württemberg, etc. These fights are fought in narrow boats (so-called Zillen) on the water. The contenders stand in the boats and have to try to push their opponent into the water with the help of a spear-like pole. It is comparable to the medieval Knights Fights on horseback, just that the Ulmers use boats and not horses, and it takes place on a river and not in an arena. (I have seen such historic fights also in Sète/France, for example, so Ulm is not unique, just the fighting characters are.
The spear is 2.80 metres long and is has a padded disc at the sharp end, so nobody gets injured during the fight. Three guys move the ten metre long boats, the fighter stands on a platform at the front. The winner qualifies for the next round of the tournament until the winner is found in a final. Not only fighters who fall into the water are losers but also those who step into the boat from the platform or loses his spear.
The next dates for the Fischerstechen are 12 and 19 July 2009, after that you have to wait until 2013 for the next event.
Ulmer Zuckerbrot (Ulm Sugarbread)
This is one of Ulm’s many specialities.
Zuckerbrot (Sugar Bread) is a traditional baking stuff made with yeast and many spices.
There is a bakery named Zaiser in Herrenkellergasse (between Hafenbad and Platzgasse) where you will get it for sure. They have a big golden sign stretching over half the street, saying: Ulmer Zuckerbrot. So you cannot miss it.
It is only the real thing if you can smell aniseed. Tastes nice with some butter :-)
Photos 2 and 3 show the Zuckerbrot.
Donau is one of the most known Europians river.
I admired its beauty in Ulm for the first time.
It was difficult to realise, that this river could turn to an awful stream during flooding as it happened in 2002.
Then in 2003 and later in 2005 Donau was quiet and peaceful!
September 11th Memorial Pt. 2
Not everyone in Ulm however believed that September 11th was a tragedy. If you look closer at some of the signs that were laid before the cathedral, you can see that this sign actually had Osama bin Laden sympathizers!
It reads: Osama is Innocent! Show me the evidence!