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IN A NUTSHELL
WHAT: Ulm Cathedral
WHERE: City of Ulm, which is also the birth city of Albert Einstein
WHY: World's tallest church spire; homey Christmas Market
WHEN: Any time of year
HOW: Day trip for those in Southern Germany.  I usually stopped in Ulm on my way to or coming back from a further destination.  The cathedral does not take long to visit (unless you climb the spire!).
IF YOU LIKE THIS... Then you should check out St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or the Frauenkirche in Munich.

Ulm CathedralUlm is the home of the largest cathedral in Southern Germany.  This magnificent work of engineering and architecture holds the world's tallest church spire at a height of 161m.  Many people mistake Cologne's Dom as the highest church in Germany (and in Europe) and indeed that church is massive, but Ulm is actually taller (see the list of churches at the bottom of this page for comparison).

Work began on this cathedral in 1377, and was carried on in intervals until 1545.  It took another 300 years to get finished, when work began once again in 1844 and the cathedral was finally completed in 1890.  Today this giant Gothic church measures an astounding 464 ft long and is 159 feet wide.  The massive interior has the capacity to hold 30,000 people.

Click Here for a panorama of Ulm Cathedral

Inside Ulm Cathedral  Ulm Cathedral Spire  Ulm Cathedral
Ulm Cathedral  Xmas Market at Ulm Cathedral  Ulm

    Ulm Cathedral
  Xmas Market at Ulm Cathedral

Ulm Cathedral  Ulm  Ulm
Ulm Cathedral  Ulm Cathedral  Ulm Cathedral
Ulm Cathedral  Ulm Cathedral  Ulm Cathedral

Inside Ulm CathedralUlm CathedralVisitors to the church can pay a small fee to climb the 768 steps up to the top of the steeple.  From the top of the spire you can see the Alps on a clear and sunny day.

Directions:
From
the A8 between Stuttgart and Munich, turn south on the B10, which takes you right into Ulm.  You can't miss the cathedral, as it is by far the tallest structure in the area.  The Cathedral is located in the middle of Ulm's downtown pedestrian area.  Find a parking garage once you arrive at the downtown area (Centrum). 

There should be signs indicating locations of the local parking areas.  Once you have parked, head for the center of town.  It will be tough to keep track of the church spire since you will be in the middle of buildings which will block out its view.  If you lose your way, simply ask a pedestrian.

Click Here to map your route to Ulm!

Below is a list of the tallest churches in the world as they currently stand.  Many of these churches have held records for the tallest building in the world.  In the 19th Century, the centuries-long building process reached a fury as several different churches in Europe raced to outdo each other as the tallest church (and building) in the world.

Note the difference between the "tallest" church and the "largest" church.  One title denotes height, while the other title denotes volume.

Two interesting facts to go along with this list:

1) The Cathedral in Lincoln, England, was actually once 159.7m tall and finished in 1311 (several centuries before any of those currently on the list) was the tallest building in the world from 1311 to 1549, at which point the spire collapsed to its current height of 83m. 

2) If it is ever finished, Barcelona's Sagrada Familía will be the world's tallest church with a height of 172m.
 
Top Ten World's Tallest Churches
Height Completed Name Location Comment
161.5m 1890 Münster Ulm,
Germany
intended to be shorter, but increased in size to beat out Cologne's Dom (finished 10 years prior).
158.0m 1989 Our Lady of Peace Basilica Yamossoukro,
Côte d'Ivoire
largest church in the world; tallest church dome
157.4m 1880 Cologne Dom Cologne,
Germany
tallest building in the world from 1880 to 1884
151.0m 1876 Rouen Cathedral Rouen,
France
tallest building in the world from 1876 to 1880
147.3m 1847 St. Nikolai Church Hamburg,
Germany
tallest building in the world from 1847 to 1876; only the tower was left standing after WWII
144.0m 1439 Strasbourg Cathedral Strasbourg,
France
tallest building in the world from 1625 to 1847
137.0m 1570 Stephansdom Vienna,
Austria
134.1m 1924 Neuer Dom Linz,
Austria
132.8m 1878 St. Petri Church Hamburg,
Germany
Interesting to note that Hamburg has two churches on this list
132.5m 1626 St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City largest church with the tallest dome in the world from 1626 to 1989

 

Other Grand European Churches


St. Peter's BasilicaST. PETER'S BASILICA  (Basicilica di San Pietro) is the magnificent heart of the Catholic Church, which lies on the burial site of St. Peter. 



Sagrada Familia
TEMPLE EXPIATORI DE LA SAGRADA FAMILÍA is Barcelona's most outstanding landmark, and was the brainchild of the famous Catalonian architect and artist Antoni Gaudí.
 

Statues in Salzburg's DomplatzDOM is Salzburg's main Cathedral, located downtown in the Domplatz.  This ornately decorated church has the capacity to hold 10,000 people.

 

Moving to Germany?  Look at out our tips!

Moving to Germany
Whether you are a member of the US Air Force, Army, or Navy, check out our guide to moving to Europe. 
 

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