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Ulm is a university town in Baden-Württemberg on the Danube on
the southeastern edge of the Swabian Alb on the border with Bavaria.
The city has over 125,000 inhabitants (as of the end of 2019), forms
its own urban district and is the seat of the district office of the
neighboring Alb-Danube district. According to the Baden-Württemberg
State Development Plan, Ulm is one of a total of 14 regional centers
in the state and, together with Neu-Ulm, forms one of the
transnational dual centers in Germany with 183,323 inhabitants. Ulm
is the largest city in the administrative district of Tübingen and
in the Donau-Iller region, which also includes areas of the Bavarian
administrative district of Swabia.
The city is known for its Gothic cathedral, whose church tower is the highest in the world at 161.53 meters. Also noteworthy is the long bourgeois tradition of Ulm with the oldest constitution of a German city and a city theater, the beginnings of which go back to 1641. In the past, Ulm was the starting point for the emigration of the Danube Swabians, who traveled to their new home countries in southeastern Europe in so-called Ulmer boxes.
Ulm, first mentioned in a document on July 22, 854, was a royal palace and free imperial city, Bavarian from 1802, and since 1810 part of Württemberg. Since then, Ulm has been separated from its former area to the right of the Danube, which remained with Bavaria and on which the city of Neu-Ulm developed.
Famous personalities include Albert Einstein (1879–1955), who was born in Ulm, the resistance fighters Hans (1918–1943) and Sophie Scholl (1921–1943), who grew up in Ulm from 1932, and the actress Hildegard Knef (1925–2002) , who was born in Ulm, and the German designer and graphic designer Otl Aicher (1922–1991), who was born and grew up in Ulm.
The city of Ulm is located at an average altitude of 479 m above sea level. NN (measuring point: town hall). The urban area is geographically rich and ranges from 459 m above sea level. NN (Danube bank) up to 646 m above sea level NN (Klingensteiner Forest). The historic city center is about two kilometers below (east) the confluence of the Iller at the confluence of the Blau and the Danube. The city lies on the southern edge of the Ulmer Alb (part of the middle surface Alb) and the plateau of the so-called "Hochsträß", separated from it to the south by the former valley of the Urdonau (Blau, Ach and Schmiechtal). The elevations of Hochsträß and Alb (from west to north to east: Galgenberg, Kuhberg, Roter Berg (Hochsträß), Eselsberg, Kienlesberg, Michelsberg, Safranberg (Ulmer Alb)) surrounded in the west, north and east, separated by smaller or larger valleys the city center. In the south this is limited by the course of the Danube.
The urban area of Ulm extends largely north of the Danube, which forms the border between the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria for a few kilometers with the Bavarian sister city of Neu-Ulm on the southern bank of the Danube. In the west and north, the urban area with the suburbs Harthausen, Grimmelfingen, Einsingen, Ermingen, Allewind and Eggingen extends over the plateaus of the Hochsträß, with Lehr, Mähringen and Jungingen over the plateaus of the Ulmer Alb. West of the city center is the suburb of Söflingen south of the Blau on the edge of the Hochstrasse. The suburb of Böfingen connects to the northeast of the city center and is located on the slopes of the Alb north of the Danube. Only above the confluence of the Iller and the Danube does the urban area of Ulm with the districts of Wiblingen, Gögglingen, Donaustetten and Unterweiler extend to the floodplains and alluvial terraces of the Danube and Iller southwest of the Danube and Iller.
There are significant finds from the Paleolithic in the area around Ulm, on the one hand near neighboring Blaubeuren and on the other a few kilometers north of Ulm in the Lone Valley (for example in the Vogelherd cave). They point out that the area on the edge of the Alb was an interesting habitat in the times of hunters and gatherers. In the Neolithic the Hochsträß was settled early (e.g. Ulm-Eggingen); from Ulm itself there are finds from a more recent phase of the Neolithic. A role that should not be underestimated for the development of the city of Ulm as a traffic junction is played by the course of the Danube and Iller rivers and the easily manageable transition between Ulm and Geislingen across the Swabian Alb through the blue river valleys that cut far into the Alb plateau from the south and north, Kleiner Lauter, Lone, Brenz, Kocher and Fils.
The Römerstraße, which historians call Donausüdstraße today, runs not far from the southern bank of the Danube near Ulm between the Roman fort Unterkirchberg, the small fort Burlafingen and the small fort Nersingen, the Roman path that branches off northwards into Filstal to the Urspring fort (Fort Ad Lunam) and the dense evidence of Roman sites and manors in the Ulm area make the strategically important location of the Ulm area in the hinterland of the militarized border line of the Limes up to the Limes falls around the year 260 AD. From 15 BC BC to around 100 AD and then again after the Limesfall from 260 AD to around 500 AD (Danube-Iller-Rhein-Limes), the Danube bank opposite Ulm formed the northern border of the Roman Empire. The state border between Bavaria and Württemberg runs in the Ulm area exactly where the border between the Roman Empire and the unoccupied Germania (Germania Magna) ran more than 2000 years ago.
The burials of the large grave field from the Merovingian period on the Kienlesberg (immediately northwest of the city center) and the early medieval royal palace of the Carolingians on the vineyard and in the area of St. Geist Spitals (first mentioned in a document in 854) underline the special importance of Ulm as a strategically important traffic junction during the early Middle Ages.
Due to its location at the junction of several trade and
pilgrimage routes on land and water, Ulm developed as a free
imperial city into a leading trade and art center in southern
Germany during the High and Late Middle Ages. In the late Middle
Ages, merchants from Ulm maintained a dense network of trade
contacts that stretched from Scandinavia to North Africa, from Syria
to Ireland and beyond. One of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de
Compostela to the grave of St. James, venerated by the Catholic
Church, the Way of St. James, which has been significant for
centuries, led via Ulm to north-west Spain and has been in the
interests of the city of Ulm since 1997 as a link between nations in
the sense of European unification of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
As the Franconian-Swabian Way of St. James, it stretches from the
north to the Minster and from there, well-marked as the Upper
Swabian Way of St. James, continues south to Switzerland.
From the late 17th century onwards, Ulm became the central collection point for mostly (but not always) Swabian emigrants who were settled in the newly conquered territories of the Habsburg and Russian empires in southeast Europe and southern Russia. A first wave of emigration reached the newly conquered lands of the Habsburg Empire in southeastern Europe between the late 17th and mid-18th centuries on Ulmer Schachteln. The ethnic groups of the Hungarian Germans and / or Danube Swabians emerged in their new settlement areas in today's Romania, Hungary and Serbia.
A second wave of emigration followed at the beginning of the 19th century. From 1804 to 1818 thousands of emigrants came by water to the mouth of the Danube (Dobruja) in what is now Bulgaria and Romania and to Bessarabia (now the Republic of Moldova) on the northern Black Sea (now South Ukraine) and from there to southern Russia, especially in the area of the Caucasus. The mostly Swabian emigrants embarked in Ulm on rafts and Ulmer boxes and drove down the Danube to its mouth in the Black Sea near Ismajil. Travel stories tell of the greatest exertion of the emigrants during the 2,500 kilometer journey. Numerous accidents and illnesses that broke out in the crowded confines of the mostly overcrowded boats after drinking polluted river water and due to the poorest hygienic conditions resulted in countless deaths. The result of this second major emigration movement down the Danube were the ethnic groups of the Dobrudscha Germans, Bessarabian Germans, Black Sea Germans, and Caucasian Germans.
Through these waves of emigration, the close contacts that Ulm merchant and boatmen families had in this area before that time were sustainably strengthened. After the expulsion of the Hungarian Germans and Danube Swabians from Serbia and Hungary as a result of the Second World War and a wave of Danube Swabians who emigrated from Romania after 1990, they often settled in the former regions of origin of their ancestors. This has resulted in a strong Danube Swabian community around Ulm since the late 1940s. Today, several monuments erected in the urban area, which remind of the history and expulsion of the Danube Swabians, testify to the Danube Swabian Central Museum (DZM) opened in 2000 in the rooms of the Upper Danube Bastion (Federal Fortress Ulm) and numerous town partnerships and cooperation projects with communities and towns along the Danube close connection between Ulm and the Danube Swabians and Southeastern Europe.
The wide-ranging intellectual and commercial connections in Ulm, which have grown continuously since the Middle Ages, still play a central role in the consciousness of many Ulm residents as the basis for current and future-oriented thinking and action. They are very consciously cultivated as part of their own history and identity. The International Danube Festival, which has been taking place every two years since 1998, with representatives from all the Danube bordering countries, the recently founded European Danube Academy, the "living Way of the Cross" of the large Italian community, and an annual "French Wine Festival" underline the narrow and centuries-old Mutual connections lived in everyday life.
The Bavarian district town of Neu-Ulm borders on the right (south-eastern) side of the Danube and Iller. On the left (north-western) side, Ulm is almost completely surrounded by the Alb-Danube district. The neighboring communities in Baden-Württemberg are here (from south to west to north): Illerkirchberg, Staig, Hüttisheim, Erbach (Danube), Blaubeuren, Blaustein, Dornstadt, Beimerstetten and Langenau as well as the Bavarian community of Elchingen in the east.
The urban area of Ulm is divided into 18 districts: Stadtmitte, Böfingen, Donautal, Eggingen, Einsingen, Ermingen, Eselsberg, Gögglingen-Donaustetten, Grimmelfingen, Jungingen, Lehr, Mähringen, Oststadt, Söflingen, Unterweiler, Weststadt and Wiblingen. Nine parts of the city that were incorporated in the course of the latest municipal reform in the 1970s (Eggingen, Einsingen, Ermingen, Gögglingen-Donaustetten, Jungingen, Lehr, Mähringen and Unterweiler) have their own local councils, which have an important advisory role for the city council as a whole carry out relevant matters. However, final decisions on measures can only be made by the city council of the entire city of Ulm.
With an average temperature of 8.4 degrees Celsius (° C) and an average precipitation of 749 millimeters (mm) per year, Ulm is - like almost all of Germany - in the temperate climate zone. Compared to other cities in Baden-Württemberg, the climate in Ulm is relatively cold. The average temperature is well below the values in other places in the southwest (for example Heidelberg 11.4 ° C, Stuttgart 11.3 ° C). The precipitation mean, however, hardly deviates from what is usual in Baden-Württemberg (Heidelberg 745 mm, Stuttgart 664 mm).
From a humorous point of view, Ulm is sometimes referred to as the “capital of the foggy realm”. The statistics of the German Weather Service, however, show an average of 1,659 hours of sunshine per year for Ulm, which is in the middle of all recorded weather stations. However, until 2014 the relevant measuring station was on the Kuhberg, one of the highest elevations in the city. It has now been relocated to the Mähringen district, which is also higher up. Due to the increased measuring locations, fog fields in the Danube Valley, in which the city center of Ulm is located, were partially not taken into account in the measurements.
Flooding is only an occasional problem in Ulm. It usually only occurs when the Danube and Iller both carry a lot of meltwater or rainwater with them. However, sudden meltdowns in particular led to severe flooding within half a day.
According to a study published in 2007, Ulm is “Germany's healthiest city”. In addition to climate data, other criteria such as air pollution, medical care or the number of daycare places were decisive for the assessment.