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October 4, 2008

Written November 2

Dear Friends and Families,


Ulm was our one target outside of Bavaria, just over the state border into Baden-Württemberg. It is another of the old German cities filled with history, including the fact that Ulm was the birthplace of Albert Einstein. However, far and away, the most remarkable feature is the church called the Ulm Minister (Ulm Münster).



Trivia question: What is the tallest church in the world?

Ulm Münster, with a 161.5 meter (530 foot) tower. From 1890 to 1901 it was the tallest building in the world.

We entered The Minister by this side door, the Marianeportal (Mary's Door). On the outside, this part of the church is undergoing renovation and this entrance seems unimpressive, until you look at the elaborate carved doors. Just inside, the huge interior looms.


The church was built over five hundred years, starting in 1377. While it seats 2,000 now, before pews were installed, the huge interior held over 20,000 worshippers.
The church pulpit mimicked the outer spire and kept the preacher high above the massed worshippers. This was just part of the elaborate features of the church interior.
The choir stalls were carved by Jörg Syrlin the Elder in the 15th Century and 500 years later they give us a picture of what people of the time looked like, what they wore, and what they considered important.
Part of the effort to restore the Ulm Minister is the effort to rebuild the bells, including some massive examples much bigger than our red-coated tourist.

Other impressive details are found throughout the church. This three-door side entrance is fitted with most ornate hinges, bolts, and locks.

Elsewhere, stained glass windows and frescos provide color while telling the stories that were important in the middle ages when parishioners had no schools and, indeed, probably could not read.

The stone masons did, however, leave their marks, written in their handwork.

Outside the church, we caught a small part of the flavor of Ulm streets. On this holiday weekend, this included a country and western band, properly attired and singing with a most un-German twang. Elsewhere, we checked out the elaborate "Rathaus" (City Hall) and some of the peaceful squares of old Ulm.

Our final stop was the modern art museum. Of course, photos of the art work were forbidden but, trust us, it's an impressive collection.

The museum building itself is quite dramatic, but even from this modern vantage, the Ulm Minister provides an ever-present point of reference.

Tallest church in the world. If you come with us next time, maybe I'll convince you to climb the 768 steps to the very top where, it is reported, one can see the Alps. As for me, I'll think about it.


John and Marianne.


Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm

Wikipedia for the Ulm Minister: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_Minster

City Tourism website : http://tourismus.ulm.de/tourismus/en/index.php

ps: Ulm definitely has the simplest town crest!


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