(ˈʊlm) is a city
in the German Bundesland
, situated on the River Danube
. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 (2006), forms an urban district of its own (Stadtkreis) and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district
. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and traditions as a former Free Imperial City
(freie Reichsstadt). Today, it is an economic centre due to its varied industries, and it is the seat of a university (University of Ulm
, founded in 1967). Internationally, Ulm is primarily known for the tallest church in the world, the Gothic minster (Ulm Minster
, German: Ulmer Münster) and as the birthplace of Albert Einstein
Ulm lies at the point where the rivers Blau
join the Danube
, at an altitude of 479 m above sea level. Most parts of the city, including the old town, are situated on the left bank of the Danube; only the districts of Wiblingen, Gögglingen, Donaustetten and Unterweiler lie on the right bank. Vis-à-vis of the old town, on the other side of the river, lies the twin city
in the state of Bavaria
, smaller than Ulm and until 1810 a part of it (population ~50,000). Except for the Danube in the south, the city is surrounded by forests and hills which rise to altitudes of over 620 m, some of them part of the Swabian Alb
. South of the Danube, plains and hills finally end in the northern edge of the Alps
, which is approximately 100 km from Ulm and is visible from the city on clear days.
The city is divided into eighteen districts: Ulm-Mitte, Böfingen, Donaustetten, Donautal, Eggingen, Einsingen, Ermingen, Eselsberg, Gögglingen, Grimmelfingen, Jungingen, Lehr, Mähringen, Oststadt, Söflingen (mit Harthausen), Unterweiler, Weststadt, and Wiblingen.
The city of Ulm is situated in the northern part of the North Alpine Foreland Basin
, where the basin reaches the Swabian Alb
. The Turritellenplatte
of Ermingen ("Erminger Turritellenplatte") is a famous palaeontological site of Burdigalian
The oldest traceable settlement of the Ulm area began in the early Neolithic period, around 5000 BC. Settlements of this time have been identified at the villages of Eggingen and Lehr, today districts of the city. In the city area of Ulm proper, the oldest find dates from the late Neolithic period. Ulm was first mentioned in 854 and declared an Imperial City (Reichsstadt) by Friedrich Barbarossa in 1181.
At first, Ulm's significance was due to the privilege of a Königspfalz, a place of accommodation for the medieval German kings and emperors on their frequent travels. Later, Ulm became a city of traders and craftsmen. One of the most important legal documents of the city, an agreement between the Ulm patricians and the trade guilds (Großer Schwörbrief), dates from 1397. This document, considered an early city constitution, and the beginning of the construction of an enormous church (Ulm Minster, 1377), financed by the inhabitants of Ulm themselves rather than by the church, demonstrate the assertiveness of Ulm's mediæval citizens. Ulm blossomed during the 15th and 16th centuries, mostly due to the export of high-quality textiles. The city was situated at the crossroads of important trade routes extending to Italy. These centuries, during which many important buildings were erected, also represented the zenith of art in Ulm, especially for painters and sculptors like Hans Multscher and Jörg Syrlin the Elder. During the Reformation, Ulm became Protestant (1530). With the establishment of new trade routes following the discovery of the New World (16th century) and the outbreak and consequences of the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), the city began to decline gradually. Around 1700, it was alternately invaded several times by French and Bavarian soldiers.
In the wars following the French Revolution, the city was alternately occupied by French and Austrian forces, with the former ones destroying the city fortifications. In 1803, it lost the status of Imperial City and was absorbed into Bavaria. During the campaign of 1805, Napoleon managed to trap the invading Austrian army of General Mack and forced it to surrender in the Battle of Ulm. In 1810, Ulm was incorporated into the Kingdom of Württemberg and lost its districts on the other bank of the Danube, which became to be known as Neu-Ulm (New Ulm).
In the mid-19th century, the city was designated a fortress of the German Confederation with huge military construction works directed primarily against the threat of a French invasion. The city became an important centre of industrialisation in southern Germany in the second half of the 19th century, its built-up area now being extended beyond the medieval walls. The construction of the huge minster, which had been interrupted in the 16th century due to economic reasons, was resumed and eventually finished (1844–91) in a wave of German national enthusiasm for the Middle Ages.
Like all other German cities, Ulm came under the control of the National Socialists in 1933. From 1933 to 1935, a concentration camp primarily for political opponents of the regime was established on the Kuhberg, one of the hills surrounding Ulm. The Jews of Ulm, around 500 people, were first discriminated against and later persecuted; their synagogue was torn down after Kristallnacht in November 1938. During World War II, the city was heavily damaged by Allied air raids. The most serious attack occurred on December 17, 1944, killing 707 inhabitants and leaving 25,000 homeless. In 1945, over 80% of the medieval city centre, before the war one of the largest in southern Germany, lay in ruins.
Most of the city was rebuilt in the plain and simple style of the 1950s and 1960s, but some of the historic landmark buildings have been restored. Ulm experienced big growth in the decades following World War II, with the establishments of large new housing projects and new industrial zones. In 1967, Ulm University was founded, which proved to be of great importance for the development of the city. Particularly since the 1980s, the transition from classical industry towards the high-tech sector has accelerated, with, for example, the establishment of research centres of companies like DaimlerChrysler, Siemens and Nokia and a number of small applied research institutes near the university campus. The city today is still growing, forming a twin city of 170,000 inhabitants together with its neighbouring Bavarian city of Neu-Ulm, and seems to benefit from its central position between the cities of Stuttgart and Munich and thus between the cultural and economic hubs of southern Germany.
The city has very old trading traditions dating from medieval times and a long history of industrialisation, beginning with the establishment of a railway station
in 1850. The most important sector is still classical industry (machinery, especially motor vehicles; electronics
). The establishment of the University of Ulm
, which focuses on biomedicine
, sciences and engineering, helped support the transition to high-tech industry in close connection to academic research, especially after the crisis of classical industries in the 1980s.
Companies with headquarters in Ulm include:
Companies with important plants in Ulm include:
In 2007 the city of Ulm was awarded the European Energy Award for their remarkable local energy management and their efforts against climate change. Examples of these efforts are a biomass power plant operated by the Fernwärme Ulm GmbH, one of the most modern and powerful biomass power plants in Europe (60 MW electrical output), and the world's biggest passive house office building, the so-called Energon, located in the "Science City" near the university campus. Moreover, the city of Ulm boasts the second largest solar power production in Germany For all new buildings, a strict energy standard (German KFW40 standard) is mandatory since April 2008. The Ulm Minster is powered fully by renewables since January 2008.
Ulm is situated at the crossroads of the A8 motorway
(connecting the principal cities of southern Germany, Stuttgart
) and the A7 motorway
(one of the main motorways running from northern to southern Europe). It is thus in easy reach of both Stuttgart (50 mins) and Munich (90 mins), whose international airports also serve the Ulm area.
The city's railway station is served, among other lines, by one of the principal European train lines (Paris – Strasbourg – Stuttgart – Ulm – Munich – Vienna – Budapest). Direct connections to Berlin are also available.
Ulm features a good public transportation system, based on several bus lines and a streetcar line. Park and ride is available, as well as parking garages in the city centre. Several streets in the old town are restricted to pedestrians and bicycles only.
Education and culture
The University of Ulm was founded in 1967 and focuses on the sciences, medicine, engineering, and mathematics / economics. With 7,246 students in 2005–06, it belongs to the smaller universities in Germany.
Ulm is also the seat of the city's University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule), founded in 1960 as a public school of engineering. The school also houses numerous students from the around the world as part of an international study abroad programme.
In 1953, Inge Aicher-Scholl, Otl Aicher and Max Bill founded the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG Ulm), a design school in the tradition of the Bauhaus, which was however closed again in 1968.
Ulm's public library (Stadtbibliothek Ulm) features over 480,000 print media. The city has a public theatre with drama, opera and ballet, several small theatres, and a professional philharmonic orchestra.
- Ulm Minster (German: Ulmer Münster, built 1377-1891) with the world's highest church steeple (161.53m high and 768 steps). Choir stalls by Jörg Syrlin the Elder (1469–74), famous sculpture Schmerzensmann (Man of Sorrows) by Hans Multscher (1429).
- The old Fischerviertel (fishermen's quarter) on the River Blau, with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and picturesque footbridges. Interesting sights here are the Schiefes Haus (crooked house), a 16th-century house today used as a hotel, and the Alte Münz (Old Mint), a mediæval building extended in the 16th and 17th centuries in Renaissance style.
- The remaining section of the city walls, along the river, with the 14th-century Metzgerturm (butchers' tower) (36m high).
- The Rathaus (Town Hall), built in 1370, featuring some brilliantly-coloured murals dating from the mid-16th century. On the gable is an astronomical clock dating from 1520. Restored after serious damage in 1944.
- The Krone inn, a medieval complex of several houses (15th / 16th century, extensions from 19th century), where German kings and emperors were accommodated during their travels.
- Several large buildings from the late Middle Ages / renaissance used for various purposes (especially storage of food and weapons), e.g. Schwörhaus, Kornhaus, Salzstadel, Büchsenstadel, Zeughaus, Neuer Bau.
- The historic district Auf dem Kreuz, a residential area with many buildings from before 1700.
- Wiblingen Abbey, a former benedictine abbey in the suburb of Wiblingen in the south of Ulm. The church shows characteristics of late baroque and early classicism. Its library is a masterpiece of rococo. Photo of Wiblingen Abbey's Baroque library
- Building of the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG), an important school of design (1953–68) in the succession of the Bauhaus.
- Stadthaus, a house for public events built by Richard Meier, directly adjacent to the minster.
- Stadtbibliothek, the building of the public library of Ulm was erected by Gottfried Böhm in the form of a glass pyramid and is situated directly adjacent to the town hall.
- Albert Einstein Memorial - A small memorial at the site of the house where Albert Einstein was born in the Bahnhofstraße, between the present-day newspaper offices and the bank. The house itself and the whole district was destroyed in the firebombing of 1944.
- Memorial for Hans and Sophie Scholl - A small memorial on Münsterplatz in memory of these two members of the Weiße Rose (White Rose, a resistance group opposed to the Nazi regime), who spent their youth in Ulm. Their family's house near the memorial was destroyed in the firebombing of 1944.
Born in Ulm
- Otl Aicher, graphic designer, co-founder of Hochschule für Gestaltung (Ulm School of Design) and creator of Rotis font
- Max Bentele, German mechanical engineer, jet-engine pioneer, and father of the Wankel rotary engine in the USA
- Albrecht Berblinger, flight pioneer
- Dieter Braun, Motorcycle Grand Prix racer
- Albert Einstein, physicist
- Nikolaus Federmann (1505-1542), adventurer and conquistador in Venezuela and Colombia
- Johann Christoph Heilbronner, mathematical historian
- Dieter Hoeneß, former soccer player, general manager of Hertha BSC soccer club
- Uli Hoeneß, former soccer player, general manager of Bayern Munich soccer club
- Lienhart Holle, published the first Ptolemy atlas north of the Alps
- Hildegard Knef, actress, singer and writer
- Mike Krüger, German comedian
- Hans Maler zu Schwaz, painter of the 16th century
- Claudia Roth, politician, chairperson of the German Green Party
- Siegfried Unseld, publisher, manager of Suhrkamp Verlag until his death in 2002
- Bernhard Willhelm,German fashion designer based in Paris,graduate of the prestigious fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp,BE
Otherwise associated with Ulm
- Max Bill (1908-1994), architect and artist, co-founder and director of the Hochschule für Gestaltung
- Matthias Böblinger, stonemason and master builder, involved in the construction of the Ulm Münster
- Ulrich Ensinger, master builder, involved in the construction of the Ulm Münster and Strasbourg Münster
- Leonhard Hutter (born in Nellingen near Ulm)
- Herbert von Karajan, conductor, Kapellmeister in Ulm (1929-1934)
- Hans Multscher, 15th century sculptor
- Erwin Rommel (born in Heidenheim, his last residence was at Herrlingen near Ulm)
- Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, founders of the White Rose, spent their youth in Ulm
Cities twinned with Ulm
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Budapest, Baja, Hungary
- Novi Sad, Subotica, Kladovo, Serbia
- Sibiu, Timişoara, Arad, Cluj-Napoca, Tulcea, Romania
- Vidin, Silistra, Bulgaria
- Vukovar, Croatia
- Johannes Baier: Über die Tertiärbildungen im Ulmer Raum. In: Documenta Naturae. 168; München, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86544-168-3