Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Tall places I've been: Ulm Munster, a very tall church

When you've been travelling the world for, well, pretty much anything longer than five minutes, you'll start to get a bit blase about any tourist attraction billing itself as the biggest, smallest, tallest, shortest, widest, narrowest, and any other superlative you can imagine. Distressingly often, I would do my research later on and find that the superlative should have come with some fine print. (You know, "the biggest shopping centre in the world" ... if you don't count any shopping centres other than this one).

This led me to prefer places that I just came across in the ordinary course of my travels and discovered later that they actually deserved superlative titles. And one such place is this giant church in Ulm, the Munster (or Minster, apparently).

Ulm Munster = very tall
I travelled through Ulm on one of the trips I did between Bratislava and Heilbronn when I was arranging to move to Germany. Without any particular plan other than to have a quick look around, I soon came across the Munster - you can hardly miss something that is quite rightly billed as the tallest church in the world (unless they finish La Sagrada Familia one day). 

View over Ulm from the Munster
Just for the record it is 161.5 metres tall and I can tell you from personal experience that the vast majority of the 768 stairs you require to get to the highest viewing platform are built specifically to exhaust normally unused muscles in your legs (bear in mind this place was built between the 14th and 19th centuries - yes it took that long - so even the builders weren't hurrying up the stairs every day). However, at the top there is a lovely view over the town of Ulm and the Danube River. Personally, I rewarded myself with a large ice cream when I got back down into Ulm's streets, and I recommend you do the same.

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