While out hiking my dogs this week, slogging through the drifting snow, it wasn’t all that was drifting, my mind was too. Once again I found myself thinking back to some of the wonderful experiences I had while visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Europe a while back. One particular experience rises above all others, literally; and that is Ulm Münster, the tallest church in the world. The equivalent of a 53-story building, Ulm Münster soars 528 feet into the air. Situated in the town for which it is named, Ulm is in Bavaria and on a clear day the Alps are quite visible. I bravely attest to this as I climbed all 768 steps to the very top. I say “all” because I had to give myself a pep talk to climb the final stairwell to the very top known as the “Third Gallery,” a truly frightening experience but once at the top, the panoramic views made it a truly rewarding experience.
Architecturally, Ulm is a Gothic marvel which first began in 1377 and was finally completed 513 years later in 1890. As an artist, I deeply appreciated the 15th Century choir stalls which are among the most famous
pews of the Gothic period. Made by Jörg Syrlin The Elder from Oak wood and adorned with hundreds of detail-carved busts. I marveled at the intricacy of the Oak carvings and the work it took to carve into the hard wood. The church is a woodcarver’s paradise for the intricacy and number of these carvings which adorn the inside of the great sanctuary, which seats a congregation of 2,000 people. In the Middle Ages, before pews were introduced, it could accommodate 20,000 people.
Another fact that I found amazing, is that the church still exists. During the height of WWll in 1944, most of Ulm was destroyed when a devastating air raid hit and destroyed 80 percent of the Medieval village of which the church itself was barely damaged.
It was nice reminiscing, but as the dogs and I walked across the last field and trudged up the final hill, I remembered that I had horse stalls to clean and eventually I had to come back down to Earth. It's winter, really winter up here in New York, and it's frigid cold with the snow mounting up in my driveway, but for a little while I was in Bavaria and this
Central New York artist
had climbed the lofty heights of Ulm Münster.