From Ulm Minster to the Öchsle Steam Railway.
Leaving the twin town on the Danube, we cycle south on quiet side roads. The first destination on our journey is famous for its huge monastery complex.
Ulm, a former Imperial City delightfully situated on the banks of the Danube, is the starting point of this fascinating round trip on the Upper Swabia-Allgäu Route. Long before Ulm Minster was even thought of, two medieval trade corridors, the Danube-North and the (Swabian) Alb routes, passed through the city. The Late Gothic cathedral with its 161-metre-high spire was completed at the end of the 19th century. After admiring the town hall with its ornately painted façade, we mount our bikes again and, after a few kilometres, leave the last houses of the university city behind us. Like the medieval merchants before us, we first follow the course of the River Iller southwards. The cycle route begins to climb, and a few kilometres further on we can see Laupheim. Großlaupheim Castle, the town's nucleus, today houses the cultural centre and the Museum of Christian and Jewish History. After Laupheim, the excellent cycle track climbs gently upwards along the valley of the Rottum. On either side, the dark green forests encroach on the river plain, punctuated at intervals by large natural orchards and tranquil villages such as Mietingen, Schönebürg or Reinstetten. Before long, an elevated monastery complex can be seen, heralding the end of the first stage of our trip: Ochsenhausen. Modelled on Jesuit designs, the former Benedictine Imperial Abbey was built between 1615 and 1647 and elaborately decorated in the style of Baroque in the early 18th century. The famous Gabler organ, the monastery museum, the astronomical observatory and the magnificent library are veritable gems.