Administration, Location, Tourism
As said in my intro, the independent cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm are separated and connected by the river Danube. Historic Ulm is in Baden-Württemberg, modern Neu-Ulm belongs to Bavaria. Of course, the cities have a close relationship, as the Danube is not a border anymore. Although the administration is separate, and the political representatives go to two rather different parliaments in Stuttgart and Munich, the administration of tourism and its marketing is directed from one common office, named Ulm/Neu-Ulm Touristik GmbH (UNT).
The topography of the two cities is as different as their history. Whereas Neu-Ulm was built on totally flat terrain between the rivers Danube and Iller (with its spring in the Alps), Ulm has some very hilly suburbs, the names mostly ending with –berg, meaning: hill, mountain, like Michelsberg, Kuhberg, Safranberg, etc. So Ulm’s highest point is 645.8 metres, Neu-Ulm’s „peak“ only 527 metres.
Ulm covers an area of 11,868 hectares and has a bit more than 120,000 inhabitants, Neu-Ulm 8,065 hectares and about 52,000 inhabitants.
The cities have just between 300,000 and 350,000 visitors per year (as early 2009). Most stay for one night only. You will never run over hordes of tourists, so encounter the real spirit of the place. Many of those visitors are business people who visit the Science Park, university, one of the famous hospitals or the well-known enterprises like Kässbohrer, Walther, etc.
A great Base for great Trips
I think Ulm lies at a fantastic strategic location. It is only a one hour’s drive to Lake Constance (Bodensee), Austria, Switzerland, Stuttgart and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a bit more than one hour to Munich, a bit more than two hours to France and Schloss Neuschwanstein… And there are so many hidden gems and famous spots in the vicinity, like the Steiff factory in Giengen an der Brenz. It is the perfect place to start a bicycle tour along the Danube or the Iller and explore the Schwäbische Alb.
On the street behind the new town hall/tourist office (the big white building in the Munsterplatz) there is a discount bakery where a lot of Ulm residents go for their bakery needs.
I shopped there regularly and saved a bundle of money.
The produce is fresh and very tasty. There is a fairly good variety of things to have and they're all pretty cheap. I got 2 pretzles, 2 cinnamon type rolls and 2 more pastries for about 2.50 Euros.
you have to bag your own buys but bags are provided in plentiful amounts.
Ulmer Schachtel - Zille
What could be a Ulmer Schachtel, an Ulm Box, or: Box of Ulm?
“Schachtel” is the derogatory expression for “Ulmer Zille”.
Those Zillen were the boats on which goods were transported on the Danube before the railway network was built.
The Danube has been the longest and most important channel of trade in Europe for thousands of years. Ulm was the start of this shipping line, as thanks to the waters of the much mightier river Iller (coming from the Alps) and smallish river Blau the Danube became navigable right in Ulm.
Literally everything was shipped, from goods to emigrants to soldiers.
The boats were a kind of houseboats, with tiny houses like glued onto simple boats.
You can still see some Ulmer Schachteln on the Danube, they use them for tours on the river, and on the local holiday (Schwörmontag) to transport prominent people and music bands. You can also see the simple version of the boat, without the houses on top, then you would rather call them with the official word Zille. These are used for the so called Fischerstechen on Schwörmontag, traditional fights where two guys standing on the boats try to push each other into the river with the help of poles.
Ulm’s Zillen normally are painted in white and black stripes, the city’s colours.
You can see them at several places on and near the Danube. One, for example, is at Fischerplätzle, in front of Schönes Haus.
Also a very quaint old pub (“Zur Zill”) in a historic building from 1851 is named after those boats. It is located in Schwörhausgasse 19. It is a place where you would find an eclectic mix of locals.
Photo 2 shows the sign of "Zur Zill".
Gargoyles of Ulm Cathedral
Most people are able to take in the beauty of Ulm's Cathedral from the ground, but this is only half the story. There are also two plateaus that you can acheive when you head to the tower. The first is the top story, and the second is making it all the way up to the top of the spire.
Each time, you will get a better and better view of how much work was put into this cathedral. I enjoyed this position, where I was able to see the moss growing on this gargoyle :)
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm on March 14, 1879. The family moved away a few months later when he was still a baby, but he is still considered Ulm' s greatest son.
The house where the Einsteins lived was destroyed during the war. A monument in Bahnhofstraße, close to the station, recalls the spot.
The whole city is, however, full of Einstein memorials, some of them rather weird...
Photo 1: Bright orange Einstein head in Münster square
Photo 2: Soup can: "100 years Einstein's relativity menue. Brain power à la maison."