CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Do you like combining your daily workout with your sightseeing? Well, I know a great “legs day,” which rewards you with a view of Ulm, Baden-Wurttemberg, and on a clear day all the way to the alps. As an added bonus you can say you have conquered the highest church cathedral in the world!
The tallest church spire is on the Ulm Münster (literal translates to “Minister”). Technically this church is not a cathedral since it is not the seat of the bishop. Instead the bishop for this area lives in Stuttgart instead. The foundation of the church was started in 1377, but the Münster wasn’t completed until 1890. In the over five centuries that it took to complete the church, the reformation took place and the Catholic curch was converted to be a Lutheran church.
The tallest of the three church steeples reaches to heaven and beat out the Cologne cathedral as the tallest church. It has kept that title from then and until now.
125 years after the church was completed we visited Ulm and decided to climb to the top and check out the view.
The MünsterPlatz is the church square in front of the large church and the entrance to the visit the inside of the church and climb the spire is to the left of the large, main doors. You do not need to pay to enter the church, but you will need to purchase a ticket to climb. There is an automated kiosk just inside that entrance.
While you are there, you should visit the inside of the church as well. The size and proportions of the large churches of Europe never cease to amaze me. I try to imagine living in the days that the church was being built. I try to imagine seeing the structure being built over the course of your whole lifetime and never seeing it completed. I try to imagine what it felt to watch the largest building of your life being pieced together at the same time you grow from a child into an adult and until your death.
At the kiosk, buy your tickets and then use them to get through the turnstile and start your climb. From that point to the top you will have 768 stairs to climb 469 feet!
Through the first levels, you will be on a one way path – one way up, one way down. While we climbed we did meet up with some people who were going down. Either they didn’t make it and decided to come down before they reached the top or they didn’t know the rules were for them too.
There are a few landings which give you a chance to catch your breath, some views and some pictures. The first landing is on the front of the church, before you reach the actual spire. This balcony looks down on the Münster Platz. Another area to stop is over the top of the bells. There you can look down on the bells and see an old pulley system to bring things up and down from this level.
Once you reach the final section, there are steps over the roof the spire and then you have one final set of spiral stairs to climb to reach the top. In this final section, those going up or down use the same steep, narrow, spiral stairs.
There’s not much room at the top, but you can have a wonderful view of the city of Ulm at your feet, the countryside of Baden-Wurtemberg beyond the city limits, and even to the alps to the south. On a very clear day you may be able to see Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest peak, which is on the border with Austria.
After you have made it to the top, work your way back down. After the first section you will find a separate way down. You will finally end up in the Münster gift shop before you exit onto the Münster Platz and can gaze up and admire where you have been! Great job! You’ve been to the top of the world’s tallest church!
Tips for Your Trip:
- The route to the top wasn’t built to be a sightseeing destination. The stairs are narrow and there are places without railings. There is no room for anything extra – no strollers or pets!
- Click here to see a photo of an art installation inside the Münster in the summer of 2015.
The Münsterplatz area is pedestrians only, but there are several nearby parking garages. We parked at:
January – February: 0900-1645
May – June: 0900-1845
July – August: 0900-1945
November – December: 0900-1645
Last entrance to the tower is 60 minutes before closing
Tickets are for admission to the steeple. No tickets or admission is needed to visit the main level of the church.