Early to bed Sunday night, we were up bright and early for a daytrip to Ulm with another Ulmer relative, Manfred, and his son-in-law, Henrik Sachse. Henrik is married to Manfred’s eldest daughter, Simone. Simone and I are third cousins which also means that Manfred and I are second cousins, once removed.
Henrik, Simone, Manfred and Manfred’s wife, Barbara, all came to visit us in the Keys in 2013.
If you’ve been keeping count, I’ve now introduced you to four of my third cousins in Germany: Heike, Kirsten, Andreas and Simone – we all share the same great-great-grandfather, Johann Georg Ulmer, Sr.
At any rate, like me, Manfred is a genealogist and is very active in the local history association in Schönaich, so he had suggested the day trip to Ulm so we could visit what we both believe to be the ancient homeplace of our clan, the Ulmers, who likely took the name of the city when they migrated west to Schönaich in the early 1600s.
Ulm is an ancient city on the Danube River settled well over 1,000 years ago. It is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein. Just sayin’ – we swim in a pretty good gene pool, relatively speaking.
Manfred had hired an English-speaking guide to show us the city and we were to meet her in front of the Ulm Münster (the historic church in the city center, miraculously missed by the bombing of WWII). So, after a comfortable drive on the autobahn from Schönaich, we parked and walked to the Münsterplatz to get our bearings.
In case you didn’t notice, halfway down the directory, above, is a listing for the Ulmer Museum. Wow, our own museum! Well, okay, so it’s the city museum of art, archaeology and history, but a guy can dream, right?
The signature building of Ulm is the Ulm Münster which, though it looks like a cathedral has never been a bishop’s seat, so it’s called a “minster.” Now a Lutheran church, the Ulm Münster has the tallest spire in the world at 528 feet!
We met our guide, Gabriella, at noon and did a quick tour of the inside of the minster. The Ulm Münster is also unique in that it was not funded by the Catholic Church or by royalty; the 20,000 inhabitants of Ulm paid for its construction which was begun in 1377 and continued for over 150 years.
We especially admired the woodwork in this ancient church.
After touring the minster, we walked down to the city wall, passing this welcome sign along the way.
The sign was in front of the Ulmer Spatz Restaurant. You can imagine that there was “Ulmer” stuff everywhere we looked. I couldn’t resist buying an Ulmer T-shirt.
We made a quick stop in the Rathaus, the City Hall, to see a model of the city center, the Ulm Münster prominently in the heart of the city.
Here’s the façade of the Rathaus, built around 1400. That amazing clock – installed around 1520 – displays all kinds of astronomical information: zodiac, moon phase, eclipses – and it even tells the time!
Since medieval times, Ulm has been a fortified, walled city. When the city walls were constructed in the late 1400s the waters of the Danube River lapped against them. You can see that the river has changed course since the walls were constructed and the current walls are now only half their original height in most places. The French demolished the walls when they occupied the city during the Napoleonic Wars.
We took a leisurely walk atop the reconstructed walls around the city to the Fishermen’s Quarter.
Besides the Danube, the much smaller River Blau also flows through Ulm. Years ago, there were numerous mills along the Blau in Ulm and sluiceways, like the one below, carve the old city up in such a fashion that our guide refered to Ulm as the “Venice of Germany.”
Here we are in the Fishermen’s Quarter of Ulm walking across one of the many footbridges over the River Blau.
The Schiefes Haus (the “Leaning House”), below, was built adjacent to and over the River Blau in the 14th century and is still in use as a hotel!
We finished our tour with Gabriella, then had a delightful lunch at the Restaurant Zur Lochmühle alongside the Blau before starting on our way back toward Schönaich.