Ulm Minster

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Ulm Minster
UlmMinster0042.jpg
Record height
Tallest in the world from 1890 to 1901[I]
Preceded by Cologne Cathedral
Surpassed by Philadelphia City Hall
General information
Location Ulm, Germany
Coordinates 48°23′55″N 9°59′33″E / 48.39861°N 9.99250°E / 48.39861; 9.99250Coordinates: 48°23′55″N 9°59′33″E / 48.39861°N 9.99250°E / 48.39861; 9.99250
Construction started 1377
Completed 31 May 1890
Height
Antenna spire 161.5 m (530 ft)
Technical details
Floor count n/a
References
[1]

Ulm Minster (German: Ulmer Münster, literally: minster) is a Lutheran church and former Roman Catholic church located in Ulm, Germany. Although sometimes referred to as Ulm Cathedral because of its great size, the church is not a cathedral as it has never been the seat of a bishop.

Ulm Minster, like Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), was begun in the Gothic era and not completed until the late 19th century. It is the tallest church in the world,[2] and the 4th tallest structure built before the 20th century, with a steeple measuring 161.5 metres (530 ft)[2] and containing 768 steps. From the top level at 143 m (469 ft) there is a panoramic view of Ulm in Baden-Württemberg and Neu-Ulm in Bavaria and, in clear weather, a vista of the Alps from Säntis to the Zugspitze. The final stairwell to the top (known as the third Gallery) is a tall, spiraling staircase that has barely enough room for one person.

History and architecture[edit]

Construction[edit]

In the 14th century, the parish church of Ulm was located outside the walled city. The burghers of Ulm decided to erect a new church within the perimeters of the city and to finance the costs of the erection.

In 1377 the foundation stone was laid. The planned church was to have three naves of equal height, a main spire on the west and two steeples above the choir. In 1392 Ulrich Ensingen (associated with Strasbourg Cathedral) was appointed master builder. It was his plan to make the western church tower the tallest spire, which it remains in the present day.

The aisles, with a network of ribs in the vault

The church, consisting of the longitudinal naves and the choir, covered by a temporary roof, was consecrated in 1405. However, structural damage, caused by the height of the naves and the weight of the heavy vaulting, necessitated a reconstruction of the lateral naves which were supported by a row of additional column in their centre.

In a referendum in 1530/31, the citizens of Ulm converted to Protestantism during the Reformation. Ulm Minster became a Lutheran church. Although as large as many cathedrals, Ulm is not a cathedral, as the responsible bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg – member of the Evangelical Church in Germany – resides in Stuttgart.

In 1543 construction work was halted at a time when the steeple had reached a height of some 100 metres (330 ft). The halt in the building process was caused by a variety of factors which were political and religious (the Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Spanish Succession) as well as economic (the discovery of the Americas in 1492 and of the sea route to India in 1497, leading to a shift in trade routes and commodities). One result was economic stagnation and a steady decline, preventing major public expenditure.

In 1817 work resumed and the three steeples of the church were completed. Finally, on 31 May 1890 the building was completed.

World War II[edit]

A devastating air raid hit Ulm on 17 December 1944, which destroyed virtually the entire town west of the church to the railway station and north of the church up to the outskirts. The church itself was barely damaged. However, almost all the other buildings of the town square (Münsterplatz) were severely hit and some 80% of the medieval centre of Ulm was destroyed.

Works of art[edit]

View toward the choir showing the ancient glass in the apse and the wooden filigree canopy of the nave pulpit
  • Late medieval sculptures include the tympanum of the main Western entrance depicts scenes from the Genesis. The central column bears a sculpture, the Man of Sorrows, by the local master Hans Multscher.
  • The 15th century choir stalls by Jörg Syrlin the Elder, made from oak and adorned with hundreds of carved busts are among the most famous pews of the Gothic period.
  • The pulpit canopy is by Jörg Syrlin the Younger.
  • The original main altar was destroyed by the iconoclasts of the Reformation. The current altarpiece from the early 16th century is a triptych, showing figures of the Holy Family and the Last Supper in the predella.
  • The five stained glass windows of the apse, which is in the form of half a decagon, show biblical scenes and go back to the 14th and 15th century.
  • The main organ of the church was destroyed by iconoclasts and replaced in the late 16th century. In 1763 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known to have played it. For some decades it was the largest organ in existence. In the late 1960s it was reconstructed to solve acoustic problems of reverberation.
  • In 1877, the Jewish congregation of the synagogue of Ulm - including Hermann Einstein, the father of Albert Einstein - donated money for a statue of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. The figure was placed below the main organ.
  • Later renovations in the modern era added gargoyles and a sculpture, The Beggar, by the expressionist Ernst Barlach.

Gallery: Works of art[edit]

Plan[edit]

Plan of Ulm Minster
  • A. Entrance hall.
  • B. Main porch.
  • C. Tower hall.
  • D. Nave.
  • E. Aisles.
  • F. Choir.
  • G. Sacristy.
  • H. Besserer Chapel.
  • J. Reithart Chapel.
  • K. High altar.
  • L. Old tabernacle.
  • M. Choir stalls.
  • N. Tabernacle.
  • O. Baptismal font.
  • P. Holy-water font.
  • Q. Side porches.
  • R. Organ entrance.
  • S. Pulpit.

Measurements[edit]

  • The height of the spire is 161.53 metres (530.0 ft). Ulm Münster is the world's tallest church
  • The church has a length of 123.56 metres (405.4 ft) and a width of 48.8 metres (160 ft).
  • The building area is approximately 8,260 square metres (88,900 sq ft).
  • The height of the central nave is 41.6 metres (136 ft), whilst the lateral naves are 20.55 metres (67.4 ft) high.
  • The volume of the edifice is some 190,000 cubic metres (6,700,000 cu ft).
  • The weight of the main steeple is estimated at 51,500 tonnes (50,700 long tons; 56,800 short tons).
  • The church seats a congregation of 2,000.
  • In the Middle Ages, before pews were introduced, it could accommodate 20,000 people, when the population of the town was about 5000.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ulm Minster at Emporis
  2. ^ a b Oggins, R.O. (2000). "Cathedrals". Metrobooks. Friedman/Fairfax Publishers. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Cologne Cathedral
Tallest building in the world
1890–1901
161.5 m (530 ft)
Succeeded by
Philadelphia City Hall
Tallest Building in Europe
1890–1952
161.5 m (530 ft)
Succeeded by
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment