10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ulm
The old imperial city of Ulm, idyllically situated on the left bank of the River Danube and founded in 850 AD, is the economic and cultural center of Upper Württemberg and the starting point of the Upper Swabian Baroque Highway. The city's two greatest claims to fame are Ulm Minster, which boasts the tallest church steeple in the world - it stands at an impressive 162 meters in height - and the birthplace of Albert Einstein, a fact commemorated in the unique Einstein-Fountain. Also of note are numerous theatrical, opera, and dance performances, a first-rate professional orchestra, as well as many festivals, such as the famous Fishermen's Jousting tournament.
See also: Where to Stay in Ulm
1 Ulm Minster
In the center of Ulm stands the Minster, Germany's largest Gothic church after Cologne Cathedral. Started in 1377, its soaring spire was a work in progress that began in the 14th century and was finally completed in 1890 on the basis of a sketch left by Matthias Böblinger. The tallest church spire in the world at 162 meters - five meters taller than it's counterpart in Cologne - it dominates the city skyline, and is particularly stunning when viewed from the banks of the nearby River Danube. Interior highlights include its fine choir-stalls built in 1469, as well as the narrow staircase inside the tower (it's tough going, but the wonderful views to the Alps make the hard work worth it). A series of organ recitals are held throughout the summer months. A rather more current take on church architecture can be seen in the St. John the Baptist Church, which was extensively remodeled in the modernist style in the 1920s.
Address: Münsterplatz 1, 89073 Ulm
2 Fishermen's and Tanners Quarter
Around the mouth of the River Blau, which flows into the Danube here is Ulm's very picturesque and skillfully restored Fischerviertel, the old Fishermen's and Tanners' Quarter. It's wonderful to explore on foot, and includes numerous superbly restored half-timbered houses as well as inviting narrow alleyways and numerous bridges. A highlight is the famous Leaning House, a 14th-century timber framed home that's now a hotel (while it still leans over the river supported by its ancient beams, much of its lean was corrected in 1620). The Fischerviertel area is also wonderful to explore at night when many of the old structures are lit up, and offers many excellent dining and shopping opportunities.
Address: Schwörhausgasse 6, 89073 Ulm
3 Ulm Museum
Ulm Museum boasts one of Germany's finest collections of Upper Swabian art and culture. Highlights of its fine collections of art, archaeology, and history include the 40,000-year-old Lion Man carved from mammoth ivory, the oldest such carving in the world; sculptures by Michel Erhart Joerg Syrlin the Elder; and paintings by Martin Schaffner and Bartholomew Zeitblom. Connected to the museum and worthy of a visit is the Archive of the Ulm School of Design, with displays of works from the 50s and 60s. Also worth checking out is Art gallery Weishaupt, an ultra-modern structure that hosts numerous excellent permanent and visiting art exhibits.
Address: Marktplatz 9, D-89073 Ulm
4 Ulm Town Hall
To the south of the Minster in the Marktplatz is the handsome Gothic Town Hall (Rathaus) with frescoes dating from 1540. There's no denying the building's visual appeal, and visitors are often surprised to learn that the intricate designs and décor were largely reconstructed after the devastation of WWII. Originally built in the mid-14th-century, it first served as a form of medieval department store, housing a variety of different merchants and tradesmen, before becoming the town hall for which it's best known today. Other highlights of the building include a replica of the 16th-century astronomical clock, and the beautiful fountain known as the Fischkasten (fish-tank) built in 1482 that stands outside the building.
5 Old Town Walls
Most of Ulm's 15th-century town walls have been well preserved and provide an excellent means of exploring the old town. Built in 1482 along the banks of the Danube, the walls - originally designed as a deterrent against invaders - circle the town from the Lauseck Bastion, taking in the Fishermen's and Tanners' Quarters and the boat landing stages. Along the way, you'll find the 36-meter-tall Metzgerturm, or Butchers' Tower, which leans several feet off the vertical. You'll also find many wonderful cafés and restaurants, as well as quiet riverside spots ideal for picnics.
6 The Bread Museum
The German Bread Museum (Deutsches Brotmuseum) offers a fascinating insight into the history of bread and baking from ancient to modern times. Exhibits cover everything from the growing of grains and harvesting of crops, to the social implications of bread (or a lack thereof) upon populations, as well as its impact on art and culture. The museum also houses an impressive art collection based upon these themes, including pieces from the Middle Ages to modern times by the likes of Rembrandt, Dalí, Picasso, and Man Ray.
Address: Salzstadelgasse 10, 89073 Ulm
7 Cloister Wiblingen
About five kilometers from Ulm is the large Benedictine monastery of Wiblingen. Founded in the 11th-century and dissolved in 1803, the site is home to a magnificent Baroque church built in 1780 - check out the sculptures and ceiling paintings by Januarius Zick - and a sumptuously decorated rococo library. Today, the building houses the Museum in Konventbau, which paints a fascinating picture of the role of the abbey over the centuries.
Address: Schlossstrasse 38, 89079 Ulm-Wiblingen
8 The Oath House
A highlight of Ulm's old town center is the wonderful Oath House, or Schwörhaus. Built on what was, in 854 AD, the old Kings Palace, the existing 17th-century structure becomes the most important building in Ulm the first Monday of July - "Oath Monday" - when the Lord Mayor gives his account of the previous year's events. What's remarkable is that this tradition has taken place every year since 1397, and the day is marked with celebrations and events. Other nearby tourist attractions include a lovely Christopher Fountain dating from 1584, and the local history museum, which is within the Oath House.
Address: Weinhof 12, 89073 Ulm
9 The Edwin Scharff Museum
In the adjoining town of Neu-Ulm is the Edwin Scharff Museum, home to the town's superb historical collections as well as a collection of the famous painter's work. Highlights include numerous oil paintings and watercolors, as well as drawings, sketches, and sculptures dating predominantly from 1887 to 1955.
Address: Petrusplatz 4 89231 Neu-Ulm
10 Danube Swabian Museum
The Danube Swabian Museum is well worth visiting for a better understanding of the regional history of the area. Highlights include the Ulmer Schachtel, an 18th-century wooden boat used to transport emigrants down the Danube as far as Hungary. The museum focuses on the story of these immigrants who settled at various points along the Danube, including displays of their traditions, clothing, and lifestyles.
Address: Schillerstraße 1, 89073 Ulm
Where to Stay in Ulm for Sightseeing
We recommend these centrally located hotels in Ulm near top historical sites and museums:
- LAGO hotel & restaurant am see: 4-star hotel, near the zoo, lake views, upscale restaurant, spa treatments.
- Comfor Hotel Frauenstrasse: mid-range pricing, contemporary room decor, helpful staff, lovely courtyard.
- Ibis Ulm City: affordable rates, clean rooms, comfortable beds.
- B&B Hotel Ulm: budget hotel, sleek decor, floor-to-ceiling windows, family rooms.