The federal fortification Ulm was built in the 19th century by the German Federation as a large fortification system and was extended to an imperial fortress until the 20th century. Until today it is one of the biggest fortification monuments of Europe and was one of the 5 fortresses the German Federation established to secure its then border against France.
For tourists the twin city Ulm / Neu-Ulm offers many highlights at the Danube. Besides the Ulm Münster with the highest church tower in the world, the fisher neighbourhood, the monastery Wiblingen or the art hall Weishaupt, the federal fortification with more than 30 works and the Wilhelmsburg is worth a visit.
The interesting and rich experiences range from museums to exhibitions, theatres and festival to sports and nature experiences on the Danube, along the Danube Cycleway or into the glacis park of the fortress.
Discover the unique flair of the fortified Danube metropole Ulm / Neu-Ulm, the birthing place of Albert Einstein and the home of siblings Scholl, with FORTE CULTURA.
Monument and History
As free imperial city Ulm was directly under the Emperor and was not bound to a regional ruler. The traders of Ulm had these circumstances due to their immense wealth. To secure these privileges Ulm modernised the city walls designed for fire weapons from 1527. In the 17th century another expansion of the city fortifications followed.
Napoleons politics changed Europe fundamentally. Ulm was attributed to the Grand Duchy of Bavaria and lost its independency. In 1805 the traumatic events of the French-Austrian War reached Ulm. Napoleon won in the Battle of Elchingen and forced the Austrian troops in Ulm to surrender. That freed the way for the advance of the French into Vienna’s direction.
Due to the area exchange Ulm was attributed to the kingdom Württemberg in 1811. In 1815 the German Bund was founded, and the Kingdom Württemberg became one of its members. In order to encounter further attacks from France, the building of the five federal fortifications was concluded. Besides Landau, Luxembourg, Mainz and Rastatt, also Ulm was selected, also to secure Austria’s interests.
Kind Wilhem I. of Württemberg made Major Moritz von Prittwit and Gaffron his fortification architect. Architect of the Bavarian side became Major von Hildebrandt. From 1842 to 1859 the fortification of the German Federation was finished.
Physicist and Nobel price holder Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in 1879.
Ulm is also the home of the siblings Scholl, who organised the student resistance “Whie Rose” against the National Socialism in Munich. The Ulm “Memorial White Rose” remembers this today.
From 1527 the medieval Ulm city fortification was modernised according to Dürer’s fortification doctrine. The remainings of this fortification can be seen on the Ulm Danube riverside in the bastion Lauseck. In the 17th century the fortification of the city in the bastion system after Italian model followed.
In 1842 the building of the federal fortification Ulm started. This built a polygonal main wall as a belt around the city and another belt from 16 independent outer forts to control the mountain range in the surrounding area. Two third on the Württemberg side and a third on the Bavarian side of the Donau, today’s Neu-Ulm. The federal fortification Ulm was defining the new Prussian or new German fortification style and consisted at the end in 1859 of 53 fortification works. The estimated building costs came to 16.5 million gulden and were borne mostly by French reparation payments. As a central fortress of first class and “large weapon place” Ulm could accommodate up to 100.000 soldiers.
After dissolving the German Federation and founding the German Reich, Ulm was extended to Reichs fortification from 1871 to 1916, before the defortification of the city started in 1918. As the Treaty of Versaille from 1918 was not valid for Ulm, the fortress did not need to be destroyed completely. Therefore Ulm still owns today one of the biggest fortification facilities of Europe. Numerous buildings in the whole city area, including almost all forts and the almost whole city walls of the cities Ulm and Neu-Ulm are well-preserved.
The federal fortification Ulm offers in many parts within and outside the walls a rich nature experience. The „Glacis city park Neu-Ulm“ with a water playground and the comfortable “barefoot beerarden” is located in the scenery of the Caponniere 6.
The fort Friedrichaus offers the “local recreational park Friedrichsaus”, the “museum park Friedrichsau” in the Work XLI and a nature theatre “Theater in der Au”.
The “Ulm Fortress Walk” connects preserved buildings of the fortification ring and informs on 32 boards about their development, function and postmilitary use. On the hiking trail you can discover the federal fortification Ulm on twelve kilometres along the main walls. Combined with the “Ulm High Walk” you can also discover the geologically interesting and diverse culture landscape between the Swabian Alb, the valleys of the Blau and the Danube.
Whether you walk on the historic city walls, cycle along the Danube Cycle Way or board a Danube boat or a Ulm Schachtel, water friends find many ways to discover the nature along the Danube.
A great spectacle is the yearly Nabade (Swabian for “bathing down”) a water parade on Oath Monday, the last but one July Monday of each year.