Ulm in detail

Other Features

Feature: Spot the Sparrow

You can’t move for Spatzen (sparrows) in the German language. You can eat like one (essen wie ein Spatz) and swear like one (schimpfen wie ein Rohrspatz); there are Spatzenschleuder (catapults), Spätzles (little darlings) and Spatzenhirne (bird brains). Nicknamed Spatzen, Ulm residents are, according to legend, indebted to the titchy bird for the construction of their fabulous Münster.

The story goes that the half-baked builders tried in vain to shove the wooden beams for the minster sideways through the city gate. They struggled, until a sparrow fluttered past with straw for its nest. Enlightened, the builders carried the beams lengthways, completed the job and placed a bronze statue of a sparrow at the top to honour the bird.

Today there are sparrows everywhere in Ulm: on postcards, in patisseries, at football matches (team SSV Ulm are dubbed 'die Spatzen') and, above all, in the colourful sculptures dotting the Altstadt.