Ulm was first mentioned on 22 July 854, when King Louis the German signed a document in the King's palace of "Hulma" in the Duchy of Swabia. In 1184 it became a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire, and that meant an effectively independent city state. In the following decades and centuries Ulm became a very powerful city and the second largest Imperial City in area after Nuremberg. The importance of Ulm in the Middle Ages becomes clear with this text:

Venediger Macht,
Augsburger Pracht,
Nürnberger Witz,
Straßburger Geschütz,
und Ulmer Geld
regier'n die Welt.

(The power of Venice,
the pomp of Augsburg,
the wit of Nuremberg,
the guns of Strasbourg
and the money of Ulm
rule the world.)

After the Thirty Year's War Ulm lost its power and until the 19th century a third of its population. In 1800 Napoleon ordered the slighting of the city fortifications and in 1805 he attacked the city, which was unsuccessful defended by the Austrian troops. In 1802 Ulm lost its status as a Free Imperial City and became a provincial capital in the Electorate of Bavaria. With the Treaty of Compiègne in 1810 the left bank of the danube came to the Kingdom of Württemberg, the right bank however remained Bavarian, so Ulm lost a great part of its area. In 1811 Neu-Ulm was founded on that land. The Federal Convention decided in 1841 to build a fortress around both cities to create a central military area in southern Germany. The Federal Fortress of Ulm was built between 1842 and 1859 with additions in 1876–87, 1901–11 and 1914/15 and was the largest fortress in Germany and one of the largest in Europe.

On 17 December 1944 Ulm and Neu-Ulm were blitzed by the Royal Air Force, both cities were destroyed by 80 percent.

Today Ulm, together with the rural districts Alb-Donau-Kreis, Biberach, Neu-Ulm, Günzburg and Unterallgäu and the city of Memmingen, is a regional centre with nearly a million citizen, Ulm itself has a population around 125.000, Neu-Ulm 53.000.

Picture: The Ulm Minster with the largest steeple in the World (161,53 m), built from 1377 to 1890.

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