10 January 2009

Ulm and its Münster

At one point I had plans, or more like desires, to travel somewhere special for the remaining days of the Christmas break after New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, the computer lab on campus was closed until the semester resumed and I was therefore unable to search for and reserve stays in a hostel. Of course, the travel bug remained in me, but instead of visiting some more exotic locales such as Zurich or Prague I stayed close to Eichstätt. One of the two places I visited was the city of Ulm.

I visited the city of 120,000 people on Saturday, January 3. Ulm rests on the banks of the Danube River and on the border between the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, but it falls within the territory of the later. From Eichstätt the city lies to the southwest and can be reached in two and a half hours with the trains.

The landmark of Ulm is its Münster, or its cathedral. At 530 feet, the church spire of the Ulmer Münster is the tallest in the world, only a dozen or so feet higher than the famous cathedral in Cologne, which, incidentally, I found more attractive than Ulm’s. Normally one can embark on what is surely a long trek up the spire’s 768 spiral steps to a viewing platform near the top, but on the day of my visit more than the top half was closed to visitors for safety reasons. The signs didn’t say it, but judging by the light ice on the lower viewing platform at 230 feet, which I could reach, I assumed that worse wintry conditions above were to blame for the closure. In the first picture below you can see the spire of the Münster reaching above some buildings in the city center. In the second is a view of Ulm from the viewing platform. On a clear day one could see the Black Forest and the Swiss Alps from the top of the spire.

Here are a couple other shots of the cathedral.

Disappointed by the closure of the spire, I spent the rest of my time in Ulm strolling through the streets of its city center. In following picture is a view of buildings facing the Danube and a walkway on top of the city’s old defensive wall.

One last spot I checked out before returning to Eichstätt was a small fountain erected in honor of Albert Einstein. The physicist was born in Ulm but called the city home for only one year before moving away. The fountain offers a comical design that manages to mix the forms of a rocket, seashell, and Einstein’s famous sticking-the-tongue-out face.

A brick was conspicuously missing from a wall near the fountain, as seen in the photograph below. The inscription on the wall where the brick should be reads Ein Stein, which is German for One Stone.

No comments: