Did you mean?Try your search again
Favorite thing: ULMER SPATZEN
The sparrow is Ulm’s symbol, and lots and lots of things from Ulm have the name “Spatz” (plural: Spatzen), or the word “Spatz” or “Spatzen” incorporated in the name.
So for a start, people of Ulm are Spatzen. Ulmer Spatzen.
The major football team (SSV Ulm 1846) are called “die Spatzen”.
The famous boys’ choir is called “Spatzenchor”.
A hotel is named “Ulmer Spatz”.
And everything started with a “Spatzenhirn” (sparrow’s brain) which is the German/Swabian expression for people with no brains at all.
So it is a very brave move of the people of Ulm to stand by a nickname which points out that Ulmers are idiots. Or at least: were idiots. But as most people think of the harmless bird and not of its brain only when they hear that Ulmers are “Spatzen”, their first thought is that Ulmers must be a bunch of lovable chaps. Somehow cute. People in Germany use the word “Spatz” instead of “Schatz” which means: treasure and darling. In Schwäbisch we add the diminuative ending –le, so: “Spätzle”, which makes it even cuter. Little darling.
That is why we have chocolate Spatzen, and wooden Spatzen, Spatzen statues all over the place. And I love them all, although I have to say that I prefer some chocolate Spatzen – those of Café Tröglen – to others. They have been selling them since about 1860! Being no real Ulmer (I only lived there for nearly 24 years), I do not even have the problem of having to explain how my forefathers could be so stupid :-)
The legend goes as follows:
When Ulmers built their cathedral, the Ulmer Münster, they transported long timber logs into the city. They had loaded the logs across the wagon, so they could not get through the narrow city gate. They had lenghty discussions about how to solve the problem and were already willing to demolish the gate to get the timber to the cathedral, when suddenly a sparrow arrived with a long straw in its beak. The sparrow flew to an eave where he built his nest, and turned the straw lengthwise to push it into the narrow space. Instantly the coin dropped. After this enlightenment the craftsmen piled the wood lengthwise onto the wagon and passed the gate without a problem. In their gratitude they placed a memorial for the sparrow at the top of the Münster roof.
Spatzologists and Parrots
And well, as there really is this bird on the roof, whatever it originally was... It is a copper sparrow with a straw in its beak. In 1889, this copper sparrow BTW replaced a sandstone sparrow that had been on site from 1858 but was badly damaged by pollution. That one had replaced the original sparrow which has been demounted four years earlier and in fact was no sparrow, just a bird which looked more like a parrot… Sparrow investigators – so called “Spatzologists” – say it could have been an eagle or a pigeon, and was only there to mark the centre of the city. Others say the story is not even unique to Ulm, instead wide-travelled chatterboxes told it after trips to the north, and only in the early 1800’s. Read more about this hugely interesting issue – in German only – on this website:
The legend in a poem, found on a gift box with a wooden sparrow inside:
„Die Ulmer standen einst ratlos davor,
sie kamen mit dem queren Balken nicht durchs Tor.
Da stellten sie bei einem Spatzen fest,
er zieht den Halm einfach längs ins Nest.
Ein Spatz nicht dumm,
dreht den Stohhalm einfach um.“
So purist-Spatzologists say that the cathedral (foundation stone laid on 30 June 1377) was built long before the legend came up. But who cares? Only in 1890 Ulm had the highest church spire in the world, and at some point in between they might have had the transportation problem…
My end of the story:
As the Ulmers call themselves Spatzen you could even think the name does not symbolise their early stupidity but their intelligence to learn from, well… a small sparrow ;-)
On photo 2 you see (with eagle's eyes...) the sparrow sculpture on the roof of the Cathedral, the sparrow with a straw in its beak. I took the photo when climbing up the spire.
Updated Feb 9, 2010
Favorite thing: 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.
Updated Feb 9, 2010
Favorite thing: -
Everybody, well, nearly everybody… knows that Ulm is on the Danube (Donau). Less people know that the Danube is the border between the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. And a lot less people know that Ulm is not only on the Danube but also on the rivers Iller and Blau. This mass of water creates the infamous fogs that often hang over the region. Many people have respiratory problems due to this weather phenonemon. If you approach Ulm from the west (Stuttgart) the fog mostly starts somewhere around Merklingen, so take care, there are fog warning signs along the Autobahn. From the east you certainly dive into the fog near Günzburg.
Both other rivers, Iller and Blau, flow into the Danube in or near Ulm. The Danube is a small river up to the confluence with the Iller south-west of Ulm. In fact the Iller carries most of the water that makes up the Danube you see in Ulm.
The Iller has its spring near Oberstdorf in the Allgäu region and is fed by the alpine streams of Breitach, Trettach and Stillach. The main towns on the Iller are Kempten im Allgäu and Memmingen. After 147 kilometres it flows into the Danube. There is a bicycle track along the whole length of the river. Kayaking is very nice on the first stretch, as it has moderate white water, but north of Kempten it is difficult due to many weirs and power stations. South of Ulm it is quite nice again and so smooth that it is suitable for beginners. The area of the Illerbrücke (bridge) near the suburb of Wiblingen is a popular swimming spot.
On the Iller Canal near Ulm they have created a white water paddle course.
The Blau is just a little stream with its spring at the Blautopf – an amazingly blue and green shimmering pond in the town of Blaubeuren – only 14.5 kilometres west of Ulm.
There is also a nice cycling track along the Blau between Blaubeuren and Ulm.
If you want to paddle on the Blau, you need a permit of the Conservation Department (Naturschutzbehörde Ulm) for the period from 1 March to 30 June.
Of course, the Danube is not just just water but also a source of entertainment. The rowing club URCD (Ulmer Ruderclub Donau) do all their training there, and also paddling is very popular. There are even two clubs, Ulmer Kanufahrer (UKF) and Ulmer Paddler. All clubs have their club rooms (and the rowing club quite a nice public restaurant) on the Neu-Ulm side of the Danube.
There are cruise boats operating on the river, and once a year the major part of Ulm’s city festival (Schwörmontag/extra tip soon), the so called Nabada (extra tip soon), takes place on the river.
Written Mar 13, 2009
Favorite thing: I worked in Ulm more than 23 years, from June 1980 to November 2003. Until 1992 I lived in Blaustein, a town made up of several small towns. So a suburb of Blaustein does not exist, it is just a name for the community. I lived in the suburb of Klingenstein, on a hill overlooking the valley of the Blau river (which flows into the Danube in Ulm’s historic centre).
In 1992 I bought an apartment on the second floor of this the award-winning building you see on this photo, located in the Ulm suburb of Wiblingen, 10 kilometres south of the city centre. It did not take me much longer than 10 minutes to commute to work there, as I did not have to travel during peak traffic hours.
I called the house Toblerone House, due to its triangular shape. This makes it look like the famous Swiss chocolate. It it made of thick concrete with fantastic insulation qualities. Although the whole eastern front was made of glass panels, full height windows and doors, you did not have to heat a lot in winter. The lounge had a roof-shaped ceiling of an impressive height of about four metres.
My apartment had two terraces, one of which was huge. It was partly under the roof of the terrace above and sheltered from rain and snow. At the edges there were huge flower beds where I planted shrubs, dahlia, lilies, delphiniums and lots of herbs, really like a small garden. I had climbing plants in big containers, they covered the walls. There was plenty of space for outdoor furniture and a cupboard with garden tools, potting mix, just everything you need for gardening. The kitchen benchtop was like a bar between the kitchen and the terrace, so you never had to walk around with plates and glasses if you had breakfast or dinner outside, you just passed everything into the kitchen through the open window.
Although you had to drive through a not very flash street with several cheapisch highrise buildings, home to many immigrants from Russia, the location of “my” house was fantastic. It was just some metres from a big forest (Gögglinger Wald) where you could go jogging and cycling, and behind the house were nice one- and two-storey row houses. It was not far from the river Iller, and not really far from the Danube either. You could easily cycle to the city on several cycling tracks, and of course, go on big cycling tours just from the door step.
It was a quiet location at the time, and I had wonderful neighbours in my house. When we fixed leaks in our house in New Zealand, and try to stop all the airdroughts, and when I freeze in winter due to the lack of central heating or think how primitive it is to only heat the room where we are in, I often think about my wonderful apartment in Wiblingen.
Wiblingen itself is, as said, a southern suburb of Ulm. Coming from the city centre, you cross parts of Neu-Ulm and therefore Bavaria to get there. The Iller river also is a border.
Wiblingen has a rich history, with a splendid monastery church and an even more fantastic Baroque library as the highlights in the historic part of the town which was about a kilometre or two from my house.
On photo 2 you have a fontal view of my apartment.
Written Mar 10, 2009
Favorite thing: Ulmensien are items from Ulm, mostly souvenirs, but also things and figures typical for Ulm. A bit like what we call Kiwiana for things typical for New Zealand.
The city’s flag is half white and half black, the stripes length-wise. The football team of SSV Ulm 1846 also wears black and white – but like any other team in the world, not always. But the club’s colours are black and white. The club’s black sign is round at the bottom, the U of Ulm shaped around the lower edge, the cathedral symbol sitting in the U, and above that you can read SSV 1846 (in two lines). Also see here: http://www.ssvulm1846.de/
(I think the layout of the homepage is dreadful, with the sign so tiny that you nearly miss it.)
As a free imperial city Ulm used the imperial eagle on its seals. The arms have been changed several times since 1351. The eagle became smaller and smaller and was finally removed in 1803.
In Ulm, um Ulm und um Ulm herum.
With this tongue twister you can test your German language skills ;-))) Say it several times and be not surprised if you end up saying something like: Immulm – Ummulm – Ummummulm herum...
The Sparrow – as you can find out in a separate tip (General Tip), as well as the story behind it.
Ulm’s big Day:
Schwörmontag is THE day in Ulm’s calendar. It is celebrated every year on the third Monday in July, with more festivals on the weekend leading up to that day. See extra tip about it (Local Customs – coming up soon). The date (first Monday in July) given in the Lonely Planet Germany guide (edition 2000) is wrong.
Written Mar 10, 2009
Favorite thing: -
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.
Written Mar 10, 2009
Favorite thing: -
The Visitor Centre cannot be missed. It is located in Stadthaus, the striking white building on the southern side of Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square).
Most walking tours start from there.
The staff can arrange themed city tours in ten different languages.
If you have not booked accommodation in advance, go there and they will assist you with finding a place to stay.
The Visitor Centre includes a souvenir shop.
Phone (0731) 161 2830
Updated Mar 6, 2009
Favorite thing: -
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
Updated Mar 6, 2009
Favorite thing: Being American, I find that German beer knocks my on my you know what- It's served in such a big portion and the alcohol content dwarfs our beers...If you want something less strong, I suggest you try a Radler(this is what they call it in southern Germany, it's Alsterwasser in the north). Both are made with half beer and half fizzy sprite/7 Up-like lemonade.
They are quite refreshing and will not leave you lying face down in the dirt at the end of the night at the area biergarten.
Fondest memory: Whenever we hit the biergarten in Ulm it goes without saying that "Sarah is having a radler", or two, or three, or four...
Written Feb 25, 2005
Favorite thing: 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!!
Updated Feb 10, 2005
1 Review and 12 Opinions Originally built in the 13th century and extended in 1443, the Schiefes Haus has been constantly...
1 Review and 20 Opinions Nice little hotel in downtown Ulm. Really neat area..... I loved Ulm. The only problem was, there...
1 Review and 43 Opinions good hotel if you want to stay close to downtown area and shopping. historical cathedral is also...