Ulm: The JPOC city guide

My guide to Ulm is just getting going and it will be a few weeks before there is a lot here but I hope that you will find plenty of useful information by then.

Ulm is a small University city on the North bank of the river Danube. The river is known in Germany as the Donau. Ulm is where it is because it marks the upstream limit of the navigable section of the river. Thus it has long been a centre for trading and fishing.

In its early days, Ulm was surrounded by a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth. Today, the wall that was on the inner bank of the moat is still in place around much of the city.

To the north of the town the landscape rises in a series of hills which make up part of the Swabian Albs. An Alb is a mountain not big enough to be an Alp and this is the root that forms the names for both Albania and Albion. To the south is flatter land that runs all the way south to the real Alps. On a clear day, from a high point, you can see the Alps from Ulm.

The city has two main claims to fame. The first is the Munster which is a very big church. I have heard it described as the tallest Christian church spire in the world but I have also been told that it is not. Either way, I have sometimes seen the top inside the cloudbase. Secondly, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm. Although he studied and worked elsewhere he is still commemorated here and as you walk around the town and look at the shops, street names, cafes etc you will soon spot Einstein this and Einstein that.

On the opposite bank of the Danube lies Neu Ulm which is in Bavaria because here the river lies on the border with Baden Wurtemburg. If you live in Ulm, you are expected to dismiss Neu Ulm as a bit naff and arriviste whereas if you live in Neu Ulm you will just look across the river every winter and wish that your side of the river was not the one that got flooded. (Yes, that's why Ulm was originally built only on one side of the river.)

There is a university in Ulm but, as far as I know, it's not really famous for anything. Also, there is a lot of high tech industry. Atop the Eselsberg, one of the hills to the north of the town, is a site that was originally a main research centre for Daimler Benz. Over the years, parts have been sold off and other companies have located nearby. As a result, today sees both Nokia and Siemens working on Cellular Network developments there.

Ulm appears to have a bit of a fixation with the American architect Richard Meyer. As a result, his building is in the cathedral square next to the Munster. It is also on top of the Eselsberg. If you think that I have misworded that, you should check out his work. Refreshing and interesting though it is, he really only designs one building and gets it erected all over the world.

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