1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

World's highest steeple: Ulm Minster

Patricia Szilagyi
April 28, 2021

The highest steeple in the world is not in Cologne or Rome, but in Ulm. The church in southern Germany is a building of superlatives. That's why it's featured in part eight of our series "Extreme Places".

Deutschland Ulmer Münster mit Stadtansicht
Image: Imago Images/A. Hettrich

You can see it from far off — the steeple of Ulm Minster is outstanding in the fullest sense of the word. It rises to just over 161 meters (528 ft.) into the sky — higher than any other church tower in the world. It is the uncontested symbol of the city on the Danube. The Gothic architecture, the 15-meter-tall church windows, the elaborate altars, the gigantic organ: almost everything about Ulm Minster is impressive. And so is the time it took to build it: there were more than 500 years between the laying of the foundation stone in 1377 and its completion in 1890.

Germany Ulm Minster, Main Organ
The main organ of Ulm Cathedral: it has 100 stops and almost 9,000 pipesImage: Imago Images/epd/H. Gutmann

The fact that the monumental Protestant church was built in the 130,000-person city in Baden-Württemberg, is thanks to the citizens of Ulm. The minster is a people's church — the building was financed completely by the residents of the city. To this day, Ulm locals are deeply proud of their record-breaker.

A visit to Ulm Minster

DW reporter Hendrik Welling explored Ulm Minster and its history for the series "Europe to the Maxx" on DW-TV's magazine "Euromaxx." He climbed Europe's highest church tower — and even experienced it virtually from a bird's eye view. 

Incidentally, legend has it that there was help from the animal world in the construction of the church. The craftsmen were struggling to transport an especially large wooden beam for the minster through the city gate. They were about to tear down the gate when a sparrow, which was carrying a twig lengthwise in its beak, is said to have flown through it. The solution dawned on them, and so the church could be built after all. In thanks, they created a monument to the little bird on the roof of the minster. The Ulm Sparrow is ubiquitous in the city to this day — whether in the form of a pastry or as a souvenir.

Church tower with a view

Front view of Ulm Minster
Ulm Minster is the largest Protestant church in GermanyImage: picture-alliance/blickwinkel/McPHOTO/M. Weber

Most visitors come to climb the highest steeple in the world. You can't go all the way to the top, but you can at least stand on the viewing platform at a height of 143 meters. Exactly 768 steps lead up the tower, but the view more than compensates for the strenuous ascent. It is — just like the minster itself — simply outstanding.

Service tips:

Address: Ulm Minster, Münsterplatz 1, 89073 Ulm, Germany

Getting there: Around 10 minutes' walk from Ulm main station

Hours: daily 10a.m.-6p.m. (April-September), 10a.m.- 5p.m. (October-March)

Admission: You can visit the church free of charge. Entry to the tower: €5.00 (opening dependent on the pandemic).

Special tip: In the Birdly 3D-flight simulator  (Ulm Stories, Münsterplatz 25) you can experience Ulm Minster from a bird's-eye perspective with VR goggles (currently closed due to COVID-19). The simulator translates your arm movements into flaps, and you fly like a bird through the virtual streets around the minster.

The accompanying book

Buchcover | Buchcover Extreme Orte Englisch

Europe at its most extreme: the series "Europe to the Maxx" on DW's lifestyle and culture magazine "Euromaxx" makes Europe's superlatives experienceable – from extraordinary architecture to spectacular landscapes to unique cultural phenomena. Accompanying the series, the book "111 extreme places in Europe that you shouldn't miss" was published in cooperation with Emons Verlag. An alternative travel guide, both informative and entertaining. For avid travelers, fans of Europe and anyone who likes to show off with unusual pub quiz trivia. Full of guaranteed record breakers!