Neu-Ulm is a university town with a population of 55,000 in the Bavarian Swabia region. It lies on the western border of Bavaria on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the city of Ulm in Baden-Württemberg. Neu-Ulm is the third-largest town in Bavarian Swabia after Augsburg and Kempten. Ulm in Baden-Württemberg and Neu-Ulm in Bavaria are sister cities either side of the Danube with a combined population of 170,000.
Neu-Ulm owes its existence to a treaty concluded on 18 May 1810 between the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg which established their border in the middle of the Danube. On 22 April 1811 community life officially began in 'Ulm on the right bank of the Danube', which back then was little more than a haphazard collection of gardens, farms, a couple of inns, a border guard with a customs post and a small village. It remained that way for some time. It was only a decision by the Federal Convention in Frankfurt in 1841 to build a fortress in Ulm that gave the town the impetus it needed to develop. Neu-Ulm became a garrison town and bridgehead for the federal fortress, which in its day was the largest in Europe. Some of the fortress is still intact but much was demolished and used as material for more peaceful buildings, such as the Church of St. John the Baptist, Neu-Ulm's first church, inaugurated in 1860. This is now one of the most important Expressionist churches in Germany, after being extensively renovated in the 1920s, and has become something of a landmark in the town – second only to the water tower dating from 1898 which is surrounded by Kollmanns Park. And speaking of parks: the Friedrichsau Park on the Danube, Glacis Park with remnants of the former fortress, the Botanical Gardens, and lots of smaller but no less pretty spots – often with secluded beer gardens – are perfect for unwinding and whiling away the hours. Then again, wherever you go in this delightful town, you will discover that you can't help but relax and enjoy yourself.
The new Maxplatz was opened in 2008. It is the first square in the region that is not only decorated with sculptures and beautifully designed fountains but represents a complete work of art by a single artist. Maxplatz is the vision of award-winning Belgian artist Jozef Legrand, who lives in Berlin and is known for his work in public spaces, such as at the Flemish parliament in Brussels. Maxplatz also forms the starting point for the Green Bridge, created for the Regional Garden Show in 2008, which runs from the Danube right into the centre of Neu-Ulm.
Neu-Ulm is a young town but nonetheless (or perhaps for this very reason) has a very interesting past. The history of the town and its villages is vividly presented on information panels at 91 locations. They provide fascinating facts about notable personalities, architectural monuments and important milestones in the history of Neu-Ulm and the surrounding villages, which were independent right up until the 1970s. The information panels are positioned on prominent buildings and on specially designed columns in public places. You can also explore Neu-Ulm on foot or by bike on eight different sightseeing tours.
Bundesfestung Ulm was built between 1842 and 1859 as the main fortress in southern Germany for defence, reinforcement and retreat for the German Confederation. It was 12.5 kilometres long and consisted of a number of different sections, some of which are still well preserved to this day. The part of the fortress that was built in Neu-Ulm included the ramparts outside the fortress, the moat with a trench, escarpment walls with four caponiers and the corresponding blockhouses, and four gates, including a railway gate. Around one half of the complex in Neu-Ulm is preserved. One of the best ways to see the complete fortifications is to follow the Festungsweg (fortress trail), which has ten stations in Neu-Ulm and 22 stations in Ulm, providing information on the construction, workings and use of the fortress up until the present day.
The Edwin Scharff Museum provides an overview of the works of Edwin Scharff (1887-1955), an influential sculptor in the first half of the 20th century who was born in Neu-Ulm. Also on display at the museum are around 50 works by painter Ernst Geitlinger (1895-1972), considered a pioneer of abstract concrete art in Germany. The permanent collection is augmented by temporary exhibitions, mainly on Classical Modernism from the end of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Contemporary art installations in the stairways link the various sections of the museum.
The Edwin Scharff Museum also has a section for children, with interactive exhibitions that change every year and are not limited to art. The children's museum is a vibrant place of cultural engagement. Easy-to-use interactive exhibits make learning fun and allow children to try things out on their own – touching and experimenting are not only allowed, they are expressly encouraged!
Accommodation and cuisine in Neu-Ulm
If you combine the hotels and restaurants in Neu-Ulm with those of its sister city of Ulm, the choice is consistent with that of a large city. As you only have to cross the bridge from one to the other, it doesn't actually matter where you stay or eat out – first-class hotels, restaurants, guesthouses and B&Bs can be found on both sides of the Danube. The Barfüsser restaurant and brewery can be found in both Ulm and Neu-Ulm. The Neu-Ulm branch serves excellent Bavarian and Swabian specialities and beer from the Barfüsser brewery. It boasts a large beer garden overlooking the Danube and has a play area where children can let off steam while you enjoy a beer in peaceful surroundings. A similar offering can be found at the Schlössle restaurant and brewery, a quaint, traditional inn in a heritage-listed building. The Schlössle brews its own beer, has a glorious beer garden under old chestnut trees and serves hearty fare and Swabian specialities. Just outside the town, Hotel Landgasthof Hirsch has been welcoming visitors since 1843. Located in the small village of Finningen, the hotel has a spa suite which affords fantastic views of Neu-Ulm and the tower of Ulm Minster.
Activities in Neu-Ulm
If, after all that culture, the kids want to splash about in the water, Neu-Ulm is home to the Donaubad Wonnemar leisure pool, an indoor pool and a number of monitored swimming lakes. There are a few more swimming lakes not too far away as well, such as Brandstätter See near Steinheim, Plesenteich near Jedelhausen and Gurrenhofsee near Gerlenhofen.
Ulm/Neu-Ulm Tourist Information
Tel.: +49 (0)731 161 2830
Fax: +49 (0)731 161 1641
April to December:
Monday to Friday 9am-6pm
Sunday and public holidays 11am-3pm
January to March:
Monday to Friday 9am-6pm
Opening hours during the Christmas market:
Sunday and public holidays 11am-6pm