During my city trip to Ulm I also visited the Ulm Cathedral. After all, it is the church with the highest steeple in the world. In Ulm? Yes, in Ulm! I was surprised when I first heard it, too.
Due to the size of this church, you can discover many exciting things in the church. It is often details that are worth a look. Finally, you should also dare to climb to the highest church tower in the world.
Therefore I will give you a short overview of what I did during my visit.
Visit of the Ulm Cathedral
- My highlights inside the Ulm Cathedral
- The Shields of the Dead
- The baptismal font
- The pulpit with sound cover
- The tower hall
- The pillar consoles
- The Ulm sparrow
- Ascent to the steeple of Ulm Cathedral
- The view from the highest church tower in the world
- The most beautiful view of the Ulm Cathedral
- Conclusion of my visit to Ulm Cathedral
- Facts about the Ulm Cathedral
- Video of the Ulm Cathedral
- Opening hours
My highlights inside the Ulm Cathedral
Before I venture uphill, I first have a look at the Ulm Cathedral from the inside. Why don’t you come with me? Looking at the interior of the nave, I can see the dimensions of the Ulm cathedral. The pillars rise to the sky and carry the decorated ceiling.
The Shields of the Dead
On the walls of the side aisles I discovered something exciting during my tour that I had never seen before: skull shields. Behind the baptismal font you can see some of them on the wall.
More than 100 elaborately carved shields of the dead are hanging in the Ulm Cathedral. They also reveal the bourgeois character of church building. Patricians were allowed to hang these shields in the church since the 15th century, when a family member had died.
The Baptismal font
The altar is being restored during my stay. Nevertheless, there are many other exciting things to explore here in the Ulm Cathedral. In the southern side aisle I discover the baptismal font together with the holy water basin under an imposing canopy.
I am impressed by the filigree details that the craftsmen have incorporated into their works of art.
The pulpit with sound cover
I especially like to look at the pulpit in the churches. As in many other church buildings, this is located on the side of the nave. But this pulpit is special.
The pulpit in the Ulm Cathedral is screwed towards the ceiling like a huge tower. Inside you can see a small spiral staircase leading to a small pulpit. Here God has a symbolic place -- as an invisible, heavenly preacher.
The lid of the pulpit also has a very pragmatic purpose: the sound is directed downwards during the sermon so that visitors can hear every word.
The tower hall
The tower hall is located directly below the church tower of Ulm Cathedral. If you stand on the star in the middle of the hall on the ground, you stand in the middle of the church tower. Unfortunately, you can’t look up to the top.
The tower hall also commemorates the fallen of the First World War. Therefore, an oversized bronze statue hangs on the passageway from the tower hall to the nave. Somehow, this doesn’t fit here optically.
In fact, it was placed in this exposed place in the Third Reich. Instead of the sword with lowered sword, as in the design, Archangel Michael now swings the sword threateningly upwards.
The pillar consoles
I also find the pillar consoles exciting. These separate the two side aisles from the central aisle. But that’s not unusual. On each pillar there is a figure standing on platforms. Among the larger-than-life stone figures are not only persons of the church or saints, but also secular persons.
Last but not least, Ulrich von Ensingen, master builder of the Ulm cathedral from 1392 to 1417, was also responsible for the changes of the actual design from the hall church to the basilica.
The Ulm sparrow
The sparrows in Ulm have a special significance for the inhabitants of the city. A sparrow is said to have given the Ulmers the idea of how they could get the long tree trunks for the construction of Ulm’s cathedral through the city gate..
This specimen of a sparrow is made of sandstone and had its place on the Ulm Cathedral until 1888. Afterwards it was replaced by a copper plated and gilded sparrows. This sparrow can still be seen on the nave of Ulm cathedral.
Ascent to the tower of Ulm Cathedral
Yes, ascent. I have already visited some church towers that had an elevator. This is not the case here. So it goes up the 768 steps on foot. And they have it in them. But: I want to go up there.
First of all, a narrow spiral staircase leads up. It keeps turning upwards. Step by step I get closer to my goal until I stand on the first platform. Here’s a balustrade where you can walk around.
“So far so unspectacular,” you’d think. From here, however, you already have a good view of the city.
The first level -- tower keeper and belfry view
It is also the place of the tower keeper. The door opens and I have a little chat with him. There are three tower attendants, who watch over the tower in shifts. He also has some information for me that doesn’t make me so happy:”You don’t even have half a g’s! Okay?# I’m so happy #
On this level you also have the possibility to look at the bells of the Ulm cathedral from above. So I still have some time left to rest for climbing the second level.
Looking at the bells I get the thought:”I have never before experienced that I looked at church bells from above. But there’s more. The weather is nice and there are very few visitors here. Before that changes -- let’s go.
The next stone spiral staircase leads upwards. From the Lucken I have already a dreamlike view over the city. In between I always stop to look at the houses that are getting smaller and smaller underneath me.
I can also see the gargoyles that stonemasons made a long time ago up close. From below you can hardly see these decorations.
The second level -- so close to the top of the tower
After several hundred steps I reach the second level. This is located at the foot of the tip of Ulm’s cathedral.
The view is magnificent. I look at the region in all four directions. The houses underneath me are getting small like a miniature wonderland.
I notice that there is a spiral staircase in the middle of the top. Suddenly I see people coming down from above. I wonder if you can go up there too. Yes, you can! Wow! So I’m on my way back to climb a spiral staircase.
I have never before climbed to the top of a church tower and I don’t know at the moment in which churches this is possible. I’m super excited. After all, it’s not just any church tower top that I’m looking down from right now.
It is the spire of the highest church in the world! I just have to say it again here.
The view from the highest spire of the church tower in the world
But first, there’s a traffic jam. The spiral staircases to the second level were one-way streets. No one approached me because the spiral staircases for the descent are on the other side. The stairs up to the top is -- logically only one. And there’s oncoming traffic.
In addition, only about 20 persons can be seated on the upper ring of the top. So, of course, people have to go down again before new people can climb up. In short: There are always short waiting times when someone has to squeeze past you from above.
The staircase up to the top is also somewhat narrower than the previous spiral staircases. Right here, let’s get this straight.
- Take as little luggage as possible. Because every gram you have to drag up and down the stairs. In addition, unnecessary luggage is a nuisance when ascending to the top of the steeple, as there is oncoming traffic in the last spiral staircase. This is also narrower than the others.
- Don’t take too little with you. It is the highest church in the world that you climb. Especially on windy and windy days it is much colder above than below. In addition, there are waiting times at the top of the observation deck. You’re standing outside -- when it rains you get wet. There is no possibility of shelter at the top of the church tower.
- Due to the strenuous ascent you may sweat a little bit. If the wind is blowing up and you can’t get down from the top again, you’ll be standing up there longer. So maybe you could take a sweater or jacket with you.
- It took me about 45 minutes to get up and down the mountain -- of course, with a few photo breaks. But I was still quite fast on the road.
Then the time has finally come. 768 steps later. I stand on the top platform of the highest church in the world. Only 15 meters of spire are still above me.
The wind blows and grey clouds rise. Nevertheless, I have a breathtaking view of the city of Ulm and the region.
What a fantastic reward for this ascent.
Now it’s back down again. At some point I almost have a slewing worm as I descend. But then I have solid ground under my feet and look up again. I was up there. Wow!
The most beautiful view of the Ulm Cathedral
But it is not only the view from the Ulm Cathedral that is impressive, but also the view of the Ulm Cathedral. There are two places in the immediate vicinity of the Ulm cathedral which are particularly worthwhile.
On the one hand, this is the view from the town house. The tourist information office is also located here. You go up the stairs or take the elevator to the third floor. From the terrace you have a fantastic view of the Ulm Cathedral. In theory!
The only problem: If an exhibition is being set up there, the road is blocked. As in my case. But that’s another place I could be told to look at the Ulm Cathedral: the terrace of Café Bella Vista.
And here you can have a drink or a snack with the view. When the weather is fine, I’ll have a good time with a “Ulmer Mädl”.
So don’t get me wrong now. It is not a girl. The Ulmer Mädl is a lively summer cocktail with fur gin, Fentimans Rosewater, orange and pepper. Tasty!
The best place -- as I see it -- is table number 42, but here too, it’s a little bit of a nuisance. The Bella Vista is only open from 8:30 to 19:00. A cozy evening on the terrace ends at 7 p. m. at the latest.
The view of the Ulm Cathedral from the Maritim Hotel in Ulm is also beautiful. There I spent the night during my city trip to Ulm. There I could make the great cover photo of this blog post to late hour.
Conclusion of my visit to Ulm Cathedral
In short: impressive. Whether I look at the Ulm Cathedral from one of the beautiful spots, walk through the large nave or climb the highest church tower in the world. All in all, it is an imposing building with a lot of history and stories. A visit is absolutely worthwhile.
- How high is the Ulm Cathedral? The cathedral measures 161.53 meters.
- What is higher? Ulm Cathedral or Cologne Cathedral? The Cologne Cathedral measures 157 metres. The Ulm Cathedral 161 meters. With a difference of four metres, the cathedral of Ulm is thus the highest church in the world. If the Sagrada Familia is completed in Barcelona, the Ulm Cathedral will have to give up this title. The Sagrada Familia is to reach a height of 172 metres.
- How many stairs does the Ulm Cathedral have? The Ulm Cathedral has 768 steps to the highest platform accessible to the public at a height of 143 meters.
- When was the Ulm Cathedral built? The first construction phase was from 1377-1543, and then the construction came to a halt due to money shortages and the turmoil of the Reformation. The second construction phase began 300 years later in 1844 and ended in 1890 with the Ulm Cathedral in its present form.
- Who built the Ulm Cathedral? The construction management was carried out by many people over the years: Heinrich II. Parler (1377-1381), Michael Parler (1381-1387), Henry III. Parler (1387-1391), Ulrich Ensinger (1391-1446), Matthew Ensinger (1446-1463), Matthew Böblinger (1463-1494), Burkhard Engelberg (1494-1543?)
Video about the Ulm Cathedral (in german)
Here you can find a nice video with views of the Ulm cathedral and a lot of history around the church building. In this video, Ulm Tourism presents almost six minutes of exciting insights into the world’s highest church. Worth seeing!
Further information about the building (german) can be found on the website of the Ulm Cathedral. Especially about current events, exhibitions and concerts.
Opening hours Ulm Cathedral
Opening hours of the church
- April -- September 09.00 -- 19.00 o’ clock
- October -- March 10.00 -- 17.00 o’ clock
- Christmas Market 10.00 -- 18.00 o’ clock
Opening times of the tower
April – September
- 09.00 -- 18.00 (Monday -- Friday)
- 10.00 -- 18.00 hrs (Sat/Sun/Sundays/holidays)
- 10.00 -- 16.00 o’ clock
November -- January
- 10.00 – 15.45 o’ clock
February -- March
- 10.00 – 16.00 o’ clock
Ulm Cathedral Entrance
Entrance to the church is free of charge.
Entrance fee for tower ascent (per person)
- Adults EUR 5, -- per person
- Children up to 17 years EUR 3,50
- Families EUR 14, -- per family
- Groups from 10 persons (adults) EUR 4,50
- Groups from 10 persons (youth) EUR 3,00