The starting point is the spacious Market Square surrounded by half-timbered houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. It is considered one of the loveliest in the whole of southern Germany and is the focal point of the historic city centre. This space, trapezoidal rather than square, was where the people gathered, justice was administered, tournaments and fairs took place and the cattle and fruit markets were held. Today it is a traffic-calmed zone with pleasant restaurants and cafés, the town's parlour.
The first stop is the Town Hall Apothecary (2 Beim Bad). The ensemble: The building on the right is from the 2nd half of the 15th century, with a 16th-century arcade; the building on the left is from the 17th century. It is thought to have been an apothecary since 1479; there is documentary evidence from 1603.
Now continue to the Market Fountain. Late Gothic fountain with a column in five sections. Tabernacle depicting St. Christopher. Around 1500. Copy from 1904/05.
The next stop on the walk is the Haus am Röhrenbrunnen (House by the Röhren Well) at 2 Kirchstraße. Built around 1650 by the linen trader Stefan Schwan. Ground floor neo-Renaissance (1896). Courtyard gate (1664) with modern grille (1980).
At 7 Kirchstraße we come to the Pommersches Haus (early manufacturing industry). This group of buildings was owned by the members of the Company of Privileged Linen Traders from the 17th to 20th century. The building on the corner (15th century) and the building in the centre were linked together in 1680 and the rococo building was added in 1746.
We now continue down the street and come to the Sprandelsches Haus (Sprandel House, 14 Kirchstraße). This was built as chambers and a residential building for the ducal court around 1445. The government of Württemberg is thought to have convened here in 1462. In the 17th century it was owned by the wealthy Urach linen trader Stefan Schwan.
The next stop is the Ehemalige Klostermühle (Former Monastery Mill, 3 Hermann-Prey-Platz). This was first referred to in 1454 as belonging to a certain Hans Custor ("Custor's mill"). The mill burnt down in 1876. After reconstruction it continued to operate as a grain mill until 1958. Since 1990 the building has housed the Town Museum and since 2006, the private Geigle gramophone collection (formerly the Grammophonmuseum Bad Urach-Hengen) has been exhibited over three floors. This is an impressive collection of functioning devices, with examples from the beginning to the current state of the art. Breastshot water wheel (19th century).
The Chorherrenhaus (Canon's House) is next door. This was built on the site of the "Prebendary House" in 1514/15. Before 1534 it was the house of the canon of the secular foundation opposite, and then became the property of the Vogler, Beckh and Diettrich families. From 1615 to 1768 it was owned by the Reich, Müller and Rau families of butchers, and then by the family of the carter Sprandel. From 1860 it was home to the succession of millers who operated the monastery mill until it was acquired by the town in 1989. The building underwent renovation from 1998–2000.
We now turn into the Bismarckstraße to see the Mönchshof (12 Bismarckstraße) which was built between 1477 and 1482 for the "Brethren of the Common Life" religious community. After the community was dissolved (1517), the building had a number of different functions including a bible printing works (1561–1565), office buildings for the "Privileged Company of Linen Traders", a stable for young horses, and an evangelical theological seminary (1818–1977). Today it is the "Stift Urach" a hospitality venue for the Evangelical Church of Württemberg.
Our next destination is the Church of St. Amandus at 1 Gabriel-Biel-Platz. This is an important Swabian late-Gothic church, built during the reign of Duke Eberhard V of Württemberg (1445–1496) and completed around 1500 by Peter of Koblenz. It contains important decorative works of art by the Uracher Meisterkreis, the Urach-based group of master craftsmen. Renovated 1988–90.
We now proceed to the Residenzschloss (Neues Schloss) – the Ducal Palace (18 Bismarckstraße). This was built in 1443 as a residence for the Duke during the partition of Württemberg (1442–1482). The dukes Eberhard V (1445–1496) and Christoph of Württemberg (1515–1568) were born here. Historic interior (the Palm Room, the dirnitz (heated room), the Golden Room and the White Room). Today it is a museum.
The Tiergartentor ('Zoo Gate') is also near 18 Bismarckstraße. This was built as the entrance to the weavers' quarter under Duke Friedrich I of Württemberg (1603). It is capped with the coat-of-arms of the Dukes of Württemberg. Used from 1771 as the gate to the Duke's zoological collection moved in 1875, dismantled in 1963 and renovated and rebuilt in 1992.
At 1 Beim Schloß, we come to the Amtsgericht (Court Building). This was built together with a prison building (today a notary's office) in 1902 in the "Württemberg cameral" style. Previously a late mediaeval (15th-century) stable and a corn store stood here, as did the "Obervogtei" (the high court) from 1819.
Our next stop is the Schlossmühle (Palace Mill) at 10 Graf-Eberhard-Platz. The former mill for the Duke's household was built in the 15th century on the south-western edge of the Palace grounds. The attics were used as fruit stores. In 1918 the mill building burnt down and was only partly reconstructed afterwards.
The Beginenhaus (Beguine House) is also on Graf-Eberhard-Platz (No. 5). This was built around 1480 along with the hospital for the Beguine convent in Urach. After 1558 its functions included being the residence of the Dean. On the lower ground floor is a late Gothic house sign with the arms of Christ.
We move on now to 1 Spitalstraße, where we find the Ehemalige Garnsiede. Work building for the Beguine convent from the 15th century. From 1729 to 1879 it was where the yarn was "boiled almost white and made so soft, that it was possible to weave the most beautiful and strong cloth from it".
We follow the street to the Spitalbezirk (Hospital, 5, 7 and 9 Spitalstraße). The hospital was founded in 1480 by Duke Eberhard V of Württemberg. The "Hospitale S. Petri" was gradually converted from 1912 to create the junior and senior schools. Old building (1480, now: Spital School), new building (1522/1912, now: Eberhard School) and Christoph School (1959/1993, built on the site of the hospital church).
The Spitalkapelle (hospital chapel) is at 9 Spitalstraße. Late Gothic choir (1515/20) of the hospital church of Ss. Peter and Paul with painted stellar vaulting; now a concert venue. 1959-62 choir renovated and vestry demolished. Tracery window tracery glazed with coloured glass (1962) to a design by Curth Georg Becker (1904–1972).
The Alter Friedhof (Old Cemetery) at 7/9 Spitalstraße was created as the town's cemetery in 1479 on a calcareous lime terrace by the western wall of the town. It was extended in 1847 and 1866 and closed in 1894. Today parts of its territory have been built on, while the remainder forms a public open space and the school playground.
We continue now to the Lohgraben (tanning pit) at Am Lohgraben. From 1771 the tanners were permitted to build small warehouses for tanning materials (bark houses) next to the community bark mill. They later extended these into tanneries. All the buildings of the tanners' quarter were destroyed in an air raid in 1945.
Our next stop is the Unteres Tor (Lower Gate, 45 Stuttgarter Straße). The Lower Gate, also known as the Stuttgart or Lohgraben (Tanning pit) Gate, on the south-eastern edge of the town, was the second most important gate after the Upper Gate. The gate and its tower were built in 1528 as part of the development of the town and demolished in 1815 and 1842 respectively.
At 14 Musel we come to the Jägerhaus, the Hunters' House. This baroque building was built in 1774 by the Duke's head forester, Johann Georg Stoß (1755–1805). Part of it is formed by the town wall. In 1835 a "Factory for Turkish Red Yarn" and yarn outlet was established, which became the foundation stone for the textile industry in Urach.
Now we turn back into the Stuttgarter Straße where the Haus am Gorisbrunnen (House by the Goris Well) is located (no. 15). It was built, probably as a residence for guests of the court, between 1476 and 1479 for Duke Eberhard V of Württemberg. A half-timbered construction, it is considered to have "heralded the Renaissance" in Württemberg. It was restored and returned to its original appearance in 1977/81 by the Volksbank "Haus am Gorisbrunnen" Foundation.
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) at 1 Bismarckstraße is the final stop of our circular tour of the town. This served as an interim town hall (1562) and then as a municipal residential and warehouse building. Up until 1927 it served various functions including accommodation for needy townsfolk, a spinning mill, a school and a weighing shed. In 1929 most of the building burnt down and was rebuilt as an inn.
We return to the Market Square and the point from which we started, where we may take refreshment in one of the cafés.