The strong current from the Blautopf has long been used to drive the wheel of a water mill. The old mill is a museum now which shows and explains the historical technology.
This one was not used to mill grain. It used the water power to drive a hammer that forged iron.
The hospital was founded in 1420. Its buildings have been enlarged several times. The little chapel used to be the funeral chapel of the adjacent town cemetery. The half-timbered upper floor is connected to the main building of the hospital and contained the offices of its administration.
Medieval hospitals were more places to stay for old and needy people than hospitals in nowadays’ sense that cure sick people. The main building still serves as old people’s home to this very day.
In the 16th century the hospital was extended beyond the Ach stream. The buildings over there now host the museum of prehistory where the local finds from the Stone Age are displayed. If you want really really old things, there you can see art works that are more than 35,000 years old.
The catholic church outside the old town by the road to the train station is much younger than it looks. The neo-Romanesque church was only built in 1894-95. Württemberg had turned entirely protestant in the 16th century reformation and only in the run of the 19th century catholic parishes had a chance in the old Württemberg territories.
Trouts feel happy in the strong current of fresh, cool water. You can easily spot the big fat fish from the banks of the Blau.
I have no idea if fishing is permitted here at all – from the point of view of the trouts hopefully not (“Watch us but don’t eat us…”)
The whole complex of the former abbey is well preserved. The half-timbered gatehouse underwent several changes throughout the centuries. The adjacent building on the right, dated 1478, was the wine cellar and cooperage.
The so-called bath house east of the church contained the monks’ bath in the stone ground floor, the festival hall and guests’ quarters in the half-timbered upper storeys. The building now serves as museum.
The outer courtyard is surrounded by former economy buildings, now used for administration purposes.
The gothic hall off the cloister was used for the meetings of the convent. A row of columns divides it into two aisles. Along the walls old tombstones of local noble families have been put up, which don’t originally belong here but probably into the church.
The cloister also shows 15th century late gothic architecture. The opening in the middle has been turned into a herb garden according to monastic traditions.
The small chapel in the cloister covers a well. Fresh water from a side stream of the Blau is flowing through it right below the pavement.
Benedictine monks from Hirsau founded the monastery next to the Blautopf in 1085. Most of the present buildings have been erected in the 15th century. After the reformation the abbey has been turned into a high school that prepared students for the studies of theology. The protestant church of Württemberg nowadays uses it as seminar for their parsons-to-be. The abbey church has been profaned. However, the late gothic architecture has been restored, the high altar of 1493, the side chapels etc. are still there.
The “Blue Pot” is known for the extraordinary colour of the water. The effect is caused by the enormous depth of the pond. Only in recent years divers have managed to reach its bottom. Former centuries believed it was groundless.
Usually the colour is a clear strong blue. When I visited in March it was a clear turquoise due to minerals in the water from the melting snow in the hills.
The Blautopf is the lowest exit of a system of caves underneath the hills of Schwäbische Alb. These caves are filled with water and the water is pressed out here. So the Blautopf is a very strong spring. From here the river Blau originates, which you’ll meet again if you walk through the Fishermen’s Quarter in Ulm where it reaches the Danube.
Greatest depth 20.6 m, volume approx 5,500 m³. Constant temp in the depths of 9.4 °C.
During the most recent ice age the Danube flowed from Ehingen over Blaubeuren to Ulm. The Blautopf lies at the edge of this old Danube valley. During the ice ages more than 20 m of rubble piled up in the Blautal (Blau valley). The springs rising from the previous valley soil were gradually dammed up, thus forming today's Quelltopf.
Water supply: Lowest level 350 l, average level 2,000 l, at high water by snow break 20,000 - 26,000 l per second.
During long periods of continuous good weather the color is pure blue, after rain it turns light blue, and then into green and finally yellowish-brown coloration. The pure blue is caused by the natural color of the water which can be seen here at the Blautopf due to the great depth and clearness of water . The sun's rays striking it are, with exception of the blue rays, almost completely absorbed.
The parish church of the town, first mentioned in 1343, became protestant in the Württemberg reformation of 1536. The interior has been restored resp. redesigned in gothic historism in 1902.