The Lions Fountain (Löwenbrunnen) was built before the 17th century, it shows a single column supporting a double lion, which has an imperial eagle on the one side and Ulm´s shield on the other.
Due to damage in the 2nd World War and the re-designing of the Minster Square, its location was changed several times until it was erected at its current site in 1992.
The original column can now be seen in Ulm Museum.
The “Fischkasten” or “Syrlin fountain” – such are the names for Ulm market’s fountain next to the “Rathaus” – is the oldest preserved fountain in Ulm.
The name “Fischkasten” originates from the use of the fountain by the fishermen of Ulm, who sold their freshly caught fish here.
The master sculptor who built the fountain, Jörg Syrlin the elder of Ulm, engraved his full name, his signature and the year, 1482, above one of the knights. The three original figurines of the knights can be seen in Ulm Museum.
The Dolphin (Delphin-Brunnen) situated to the South of the Minster. With its numerous fountains crossing over each other it can claim to be one of the most attractive fountains in Ulm.
It was built mainly in 1585. The particular fascination of this fountain, with its complex structure, stems from the 52 inter-crossing jets of water and the reflections of the wet metal. From the trophy-like centrepiece, eight dolphins cast in bronze sweep out to the edge of the basin. The eight, water-spouting, bronze masks reply from five thinner jets. Additional, irregular jets of water intersperse with this strictly geometric water display.
The charming “water display” of this fountain is particularly attractive when floodlit at night.
Another significant church is the Holy Trinity Church (Dreifaltigkeitskirche).
Martin Bantzenmacher built the “Haus der Begegnung” as a church of the Holy Trinity in 1616-21. The late renaissance building with an onion-domed tower was built on the site of a Dominican Cloister (1351) that had to be abandoned in 1531, due to the Reformation of Ulm.
Heinrich Seuse (Suso), the great German mystic and author spent his last years (1348-66) here.
After being extensively damaged in 1944, it was no longer used as a church. Following re-building and renovation, the “Haus der Begegnung” has been used for numerous events since 1984
In the 14th to the 19th century, the wine yard was an important commercial centre, due to the wine-trade.
Its chapel survived until 1612. After this, the earlier “Small Oath House” ('Schwörhäusle'), which was built on a palace tower, was replaced by an “Oath House”. After being damaged by fire, the house was re-built in 1785.
11 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Tuesday - Sunday)
Whenever I look at this fantastic building I discover new details. And even if you do not look at the details at all, Ulm’s early Renaissance Town Hall is such an impressive appearance that you can’t stop admiring it. Although I like many buildings for various reasons, this surely is my favourite one in Ulm.
Opulence is perhaps the best description for its painted and ornamented façade, with orange as the spectacular and striking base coat.
The south-eastern main part of the today’s building is its oldest part and was built in 1370 as a “new department store”, as they called it. In 1397 it got council chambers, and in 1419 it was first mentioned as Town Hall.
The painting you see today is only from about 1900. Then the façade was restored, as the weather had destroyed the artwork. The paintings were extended to the older parts of the building and show scenes about virtues, commandments and vices. But walk around and you will find a lot of references to what makes Ulm, its boats, the Danube, the trade. You will find a painted plaque reminding of Johannes Kepler, the great astronomer.
On the eastern gable you find a beautiful astromical clock from 1520, with rich ornaments, and also a sun dial. The astronomical clock shows an incredible lot of detail. If you are interested in such things it is well worth to have a look at the .pdf on the internet – or on site with binoculars:
A big part of the interior burnt out in 1944 during World War II. But the groundfloor and the upper floor of the south wing remained intact.
Today one of the exhibits of the interior is a replica of Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger’s flight machine, the historic predecessor of the hang glider.
Town Hall is open during normal office hours, and you are allowed to go inside and have a look around. The most interesting displays are a replica of the Tailor of Ulm's paraglider and a model of the city:
Mon – Wed 7am – 4.30pm
Thu 7am – 6pm
Fri 7am – 12noon
A big part of the groundfloor is home to a restaurant. Formerly the Ratskeller (Council Cellar), later a self service restaurant, it is now called “Alexandre” and has a huge outdoor area at Marktplatz (Market Square). I would classify the food as average and ok, the coffee as below average but drinkable. But the location is first class. This part of Marktplatz is a pedestrian area and surrounded by restaurants, pubs, cafés and some small shops. Just sitting outside at “Alexandre” with this Town Hall façade in front of your nose, watching people, and relax is wonderful.
In 1349 the Butchers Tower (Metzgerturm) was integrated into Ulm´s fortifications.
The 'leaning tower of Ulm” is 36 meters high and leans 2.05 meters in a north-westerly direction. This is not quite so much as its “big brother”, the leaning tower of Pisa (this slopes by 5.1°, the Metzgerturm by only 3.3°), but it is nonetheless quite considerable.
This theater was built in the years 1966 to 1969. The large hall seats up to 840 people. There is a also a "Podium" hall for smaller productions, seating up to 200.
Second photo: In the large hall before the premiere of Aida.
Third photo: The large hall as seen from the balcony.
This beautiful fountain behind Town Hall (Rathaus) on Market Square (Marktplatz) is called Fischkasten (Fish Chest/Box), the official name is Syrlinbrunnen, named after its builder Jörg Syrlin. It is Ulm’s oldest fountain.
The nickname derives from its original purpose on the Market Square. Fishermen kept their fish there, so it could be sold alive to the customers.
The chest or box is dodecagonal. In the centre sits a triangular pinnacle. The fountain is a masterpiece of late Gothic ornamentation. In the stonemasonery you can see Ulm’s arms and shield, the imperial eagle and knights’ figures. Above the knights you can see the name of the stonemason Jörg Syrlin (d.Ä. = the Elder) and the year 1482.
The three original knights are kept in Ulm’s Museum (Ulmer Museum), just a stonethrow away from the fountain, also at Marktplatz.
Ulm Minster was begun in the Gothic era and not completed until the 19th century. It is the tallest church in the world, and the 4th tallest structure built before the 20th century, with a steeple measuring 161.5 metres.
In 1377 the foundation stone was laid. The planned church was to have three naves of equal height, a main spire on the west and two steeples above the choir. In 1392 Ulrich Ensingen was appointed master builder. It was his plan to make the western church tower the tallest spire, which it remains in the present day.
Somehow you cannot avoid it, as you see the world’s highest church spire (161.53 metres) from everywhere. The interior surely isn’t as precious as in Cologne’s Dome, but it is still beautiful and very serene. Plus, as not such hordes of tourists step on your feet you will enjoy a visit a lot more, as you can look at the things as long as you please and not only until someone pushes you away.
The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1377. Building continued throughout the centuries and was only finished in 1890.
The Münster is the largest church of South Germany.
The architect was Heinrich Parler. But what do I say? Architect? You have to imagine the original plan as a model and some sketches which should give the builders an idea how the whole thing should look like at the end. But there were no real technical details included in the scheme, or calculations about statics. Everything was based on a kind of relativity theory, experience and a lot of secret knowledge some few master planners shared.
The original plan was to build a hall church with three spires of the same height. But already Parler’s successor, his brother Michael, changed the plan. Then Ulrich von Ensingen (whose name you will hear or read quite a bit in the city, as a street and a school are named after him) had the vision of one spire rising high into the sky and dominating the others, so the concept was altered towards a basilica. BTW Von Ensingen was later hired to design Strasbourg’s cathedral.
Of course, the most important work was and still is done by stonemasons. They worked on the stone during the winter months in a workshop, and the parts were put in place in spring. As the technology of getting the stones up was rather primitive, quite a number of builders died in the process.
Works came to a standstill in 1492 when two stones from the vault crashed into the congregation during a mass. At that time the towers had reached half their height, and the naves had naves and were beautifully decorated, only the buttresses had not been installed yet. After the incident the then foreman left over night, a plethora of masterbuilders from outside were asked for their expertise. Repairs, alterations and adjustments were made, and in 1507 the cathedral was saved, but the passion was gone. Running out of money, the city council decided to discontinue building in 1543. For 300 years of just kludging and kind of repairing just the most obvious damage, the Münster was classified as a ruin in 1838. But the people had the will to finish the church, raised funds, taxes were imposed, and the sovereigns were called upon. Finally in 1890 the final stone was set in the main spire which somehow coincidentally had got some metres higher than originally planned, due to a slightly changed angle.
So: The fact that the Münster spire was suddenly those some metres higher than the one of the Dome in Cologne which had been finished ten years earlier had never been on the cards, and there was nothing like a competition of having the highest tower at the time.
In 1844 the so called Münsterbauhütte was founded, a permanent workshop of stonemasons. It still exists today and permanently undertakes repairs to save the cathedral for generations. When works in one corner have finished, they start again in the next area. So you would be very lucky to ever see the church without any scaffolding. Once, I remember, we had a headline in our newspaper, saying to quickly take photos of the Münster because it would be the last time in this century (so before the year 2000) it could be seen without scaffolding.
The bare facts of the Münster:
The nave is 123.56 metres long, 49.60 metres wide and 41.60 metres high. On the roof, close to the main spire, you find the sparrow sculpture I have been talking about in my story (General Tip) about the legend of Ulm’s symbol, the sparrow.
The main tower is 161.53 metres high. 768 steps lead up to a viewing platform at a height of 141 metres.
Ulm´s Town hall (Rathaus) is situated not far from the Minster and is easily recognised by its opulently painted, early renaissance façade. The oldest part of the present building, the main South East building, was built in 1370 as a “new trading house”. It is first mentioned as a town hall in 1419.
The ornamental astronomical clock was installed around 1520. The lavish exterior murals were extended to the older part of the building and didactically illustrate virtues, commandments and vices.
The paintings visible today originate from the year 1900 when the previous paintings, which had been largely destroyed by the weather, were restored or renewed in the sprit of the surviving remains.
Ulm has a wonderful area - the Fishermen's Quarter - where there are many elegant shops, art galleries, and antique dealers. The half-timbered houses in this area, and the Blau - the stream pictured here - are delightful to behold.
The old city wall along the river Donau is well preserved. The walkway on top offers pretty views of the old merchants' houses and their gardens and also of the river (although the Neu-Ulm panorama on the other side isn't that pretty).
Please see my travelogue page for more pictures.
The palace-like buildings of the former Benedictine monastery are situated in Wiblingen, a Southwestern suburb of Ulm. The abbey was founded in 1093 by the Counts Hartmann and Otto von Kirchberg and rebuilt in the 18th century. In 1806 it was taken over by the kingdom of Württemberg, then disbanded and later used as military barracks.
Things to see include (see separate tips on my page):
- the splendid baroque library
- the museum
- the church with its early classicist interior