Stroll Down one of the Cleanest Cities
I was very impressed with how clean Ulm was. The central courtyard of the city that contained shops and the cathedral was immaculate!
This really is a city where you could walk around for hours and just soak in the sun and sights!
Enjoy your trip to Ulm!!
Friedrichsau, Ulm’s largest Park
This is Ulm’s largest park, beautifully located along the Danube, roughly from Donaustadion to the fairgrounds (Volksfestplatz). It is about 2 kilometres long. You can stroll along under mature trees, past little lakes, an animal park (no real zoo), a greenhouse with tropical plants, through a glasstunnel in the Donau-Aquarium, and kids can play on various playgrounds.
Friedrichsau is also great for jogging and cycling. You can cross over to the Neu-Ulm side of the Danube on a footbridge named Offenhauser Steg, and from there carry on to a weir and power station. This is about 6 kilometres from the football ground. I know it because it was one of my standard jogging tracks ;-) If you carry on a little further you get to a quarry pond named Thalfinger See, this is great for swimming and sunbathing.
In Friedrichsau there are some great places to have a drink or meal. Those restaurants have fantastic beer gardens, the names are: Hundskomödie, Teutonia and Liederkranz.
From May to July the so-called “Ulmer Zelt” (Ulm’s Tent) takes place there. This is a festival with music and theatre under canvas.
In July it is the site of the “Ulmer Volksfest”, a mixture of festival, fun fair and carnival with roundabouts, merry-go-rounds, lottery booths, shooting galleries, a lot of unhealthy food and beer. A kind of mini Oktoberfest. The peak and also the end is Schwörmontag on the third Monday of July, Ulm’s festival day of the year. Then the whole park is filled with stalls, lanterns, colourful light chains and laughter. Really the best party of the year.
Near the football ground is a stop for little cruises on the Danube. The most common starting point, however, is along the City Wall near Fischerviertel.
King Frederick visited Ulm in May 1811, a year after Ulm had become part of the Kingdom of Württemberg, and donated 2000 Gulden (Florins), so Ulm could establish a park for recreation. For a long time is was the place to go for walks, relaxation and singing, but the people got less and less interested in it. So a big action was needed to revive it, and the state of Baden-Württemberg's Garden Show (Landesgartenschau) in 1980 was the trigger for a huge restoration and beautification.
On the fringe of Friedrichsau you find Donauhalle (used for concerts and other cultural events) and Ulm's fairgrounds (Messegelände) with year-round displays of model homes. The biggest fairs, hugely loved by Ulmers, are the "Leben - Wohnen - Freizeit" in spring and a slightly smaller version named "Herbstschau" in autumn. Even if you do not need advice for house renovations or do not want to buy any kitchen tools and non-stick pans (as I did every year while living in Ulm...) it is great to go there for the many food stalls... ;-) Also an indoor sports stadium is located there.
More Festivals – Culture, Sport, Christmas Market
I might write tips about the following events at some point but for now let me just list some more events that take place in Ulm on a regular base:
Wiblinger Bachtage: Bach music, in 2009 from 21 June to 5 July. They do not take place in the sururb of Wiblingen only but all over Ulm and Neu-Ulm.
Christmas Market (Ulmer Weihnachtsmarkt): On Münsterplatz in 2009 from 23 November to 22 December. More than mulled wine and sheep… Mon – Sat 10am – 8.30pm, Sun 11am – 8.30pm
Ulmer Zelt:More than 70 cultural events under canvas in Friedrichsau park, in 2009 from 20 May to 4 July.
Ulmer Donau-Cup:An event I always reported about. A sprint regatta in rowing (Ruder-Cup), with start at Herdbrücke and finish at Volksfestplatz. Since quite a while dragon boat races (Drachen-Cup) are included in the programme very successfully. In 2009 from 26 to 28 July.
Einstein-Marathon: This running event started in a humble way as City-Lauf, with just relatively short distances around the cathedral. In 2005 it was extended to a marathon and half marathon but still offers short City-Lauf distances. A former colleague, a long distance runner and an athletics coach are heavily involved in the organisation. In 2009 on 19 and 20 September.
A brandnew running event is Die Lange Nacht von Ulm which is a 100 km run which offers the option of running 50 km only or a relay. On 12 July 2009. Link at the bottom of the marathon website:
Landesposaunentag (Baden-Württemberg’s Trombone Day):A huge festival that takes place every two years on Münsterplatz. Next time in 2010.
More festivals and events on the Tourism website:
Visit Ulm’s beloved Bears
Although the Sparrow is Ulm’s symbol there is a second animal species Ulmers have a soft spot for. It is their Brown Bears (Ursus arctos).
I am one of those people who have always enjoyed to visit them. So it was a bit of a worry when the bears had been relocated from their enclosure at the old fortification in Friedrichsau park to the wildlife park (Tiergarten & Aquarium) near Donauhalle, and I did not really remember where the bears were.
Before the relocation there had been big discussions about the bears because the City Council thought it was too expensive to keep and feed them. Ulmers said the Council should be ashamed and donated a lot of money to feed the bears, so the City was more or less forced by the locals to keep the bears they clearly wanted to get rid of.
If I remember right, once some young bears were sold in the belief they would go to a zoo or wildlife park, and they ended up in a cooking pot, or so.
At this time we had a couple of grown-up bears, just can’t rembember the old bear’s name. I think the mother bear was Rosi. The young bears were Petzi, Pelle and Pingo.
There had been bears in Friedrichsau since 1935. First they were in a big cage which would horrify us nowadays, of course. Then they got a bigger enclosure at Fort Friedrichsau with a platform. That doubled in size by the time. But that also became a controversial issue as it was not the standard of how to keep bears in captivity. So Ulm’s citizens fought for better conditions for the bears for more than 20 years. Several solutions were suggested but there were too many obstacles, so in the end a completely new enclosure was built in the existing wildlife park (Tiergarten). Regarding the space they got, it surely is a great location because now the bears have a nice green environment of 4000 square metres with established trees. In 2003 the bears named Susi and Cheppo got their new home.
You do not have to go into the Tiergarten to see the bears. You can also walk to one side of their enclosure outside, and if you are lucky as we were on our last visit, one of the big bears walks through the whole enclosure to check you out.
This encounter was really incredible, we thought. We arrived before the Tiergarten opened, so walked around it and spotted the bear sign, and just kept on walking. There is a seat, and behind the fence Cheppo was at the other end of his enclosure, obviously frustrated that he could not get to Susi. We placed Kimi the Bear next to the fence. When Cheppo spotted him or us – of course we prefer to believe that he came to see Kimi – he walked through the whole enclosure, looked at us, sat down, stared at Kimi, and seemed to tell him (or us…) a story. Perhaps the sad story that they did not let him into Susi’s enclosure. When everything was said he sighed, stood up, and trotted back to where he had come from, and then walked up and down, up and down, along Susi’s place.
If you want to visit the wildlife park, it opens at 10am.
BTW Many Ulmers still call the wildlife park “Aquarium” because that is how it all started. In 2007 was the 80 year anniversary of the premises – but the name Tiergarten developed in the 1990’s only when the so-called Tropenhaus (Tropical House) and outdoor enclosures were added. I bet you can still find Ulmers who tell you they go to the Aquarium to visit the Brown Bears ;-)
The former enclosure was really close to the Danube, and I would always walk there and have a look at them when I was in Friedrichsau. Now they have filled up the ditch that once surrounded the big and really sad concrete block, and, of course, removed the steel fence. What once was the back wall of the open air part of the enclosure is now a climbing wall. A so called Kneippbecken (Kneipp Basin) is next to it.
Opening Hours of the Tiergarten:
Summer (April – September): 10am – 6pm daily
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays (May – September) 10am – 7pm
Winter (October – March) 10am – 5pm daily
Admission: 5 Euro, children (6 to 14 years) 3 Euro, families 10 Euro.
By car: Drive to Messe Ulm/Donauhalle and park on one of the big carparks there, the Tiergarten is next to the tramway stop.
Walking: From the city centre walk along the Danube towards the stadium (Donaustadion), there turn left into Friedrichsau.
By public transport: Take tramway # 1 (direction Böfingen) and get off at Donauhalle.
Photo 2 shows the site of the former bear enclosure.
September 11th Memorial
Although if you head to Ulm today you will not be able to see this, I wanted to make sure it was memorialized.
We were able to travel only 2 weeks after the tragedy of September 11th, and the sentiment around the world was that of thanks that Americans had already started travelling again.
Everywhere we went, there were memorials to the tragedy, and Ulm Cathedral had one of the largest ones we had seen. There were balloons, paintings, and candles out in honor.