Ulm Minster

The Burghers of Ulm and Ulrich Ensingen 1377-1890

Some projects last a very long time, but nevertheless have remarkable results. In the early part of the fourteenth century, Ulm in Southern Germany had no church within the perimeter of the city, so the burghers of the city agreed to finance a new project to build one. Cathedral building in Europe was already well established, so the techniques employed in the construction were known though extremely labour intensive. However, Ulm had an ambition for their own take on a grand church, one that would not be fully realised for more than five hundred years.

Ulm Minster

Ulm Minster

Construction began in 1377, and progressed at the slow rate that was typical of Gothic cathedral building and necessary given the meticulous craftsmanship that was employed. In 1392 Ulrich Ensingen was appointed Master Builder, and the structure was consecrated as a church, albeit with a temporary roof, in 1405.

However, construction was far from complete. The plan was to produce the tallest church in the world by elevating the main spire to an enormous height. Much of the naves had to be reconstructed because the project team were moving into uncharted territory regarding dealing with the weight of the stonework. This was achieved successfully, and the church continued to grow until 1543 when it had reached a height of 330 ft, still incomplete.

Political, religious and economic distractions and turmoil then ensued including the Reformation, the Thirty Years War and the discoveries of India and the Americas. Building work was not much progressed for a long time. It was not until 1817 that work resumed in earnest, and the church was finally completed in 1890. Today, Ulm Minster stands at 530 ft, and remains the tallest church in the world.