Germany’s third-largest city lies on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. It began with a monastery and river crossing in the 12th century, with the Dukes of Bavaria ruling continuously until 1918. Munich’s history after World War I was turbulent, starting with a Communist uprising and ending in domination by Hitler’s Nazi Party, which regarded the city as its heartland. Several so-called’ Führer buildings’ were erected around Königsplatz, where rallies were held (two are still there). The infamous Dachau concentration camp was nearby.
Following World War 2, traditional rebuilding left this monumental city looking much as it had done before, with a compact but stunning inner city. Spacious Marienplatz lies at the centre, containing old and new town halls. Three medieval city gates survive, one – Karlstor – being the oldest structure in Stachus, a square that contains the Palace of Justice. There are splendid churches to be found, like the Romanesque St Peter’s, Munich’s oldest, or the 15th century Cathedral of Our Lady (Frauenkirche). On the edge of the old town is the magnificient Royal Residence (Residenz), now a fabulous museum.
Four grand 19th century avenues run out from the centre. The neoclassical Brienner Strasse opens into the imposing Königsplatz, now a gallery and museum quarter. The Italianate Lugwigstrasse has many fine public buildings. Neo-Gothic Maximmilianstrasse encompasses some of Munich’s most expensive shops. Lastly, Prinzregentenstrasse with its many museums sweeps across its river. Away from the centre, several palaces are to be found.
In fact, Munich has attractions too numerous to lise, including many parks, wonderful buildings, interesting museums and lively street life. If you only visit one German city, make it this one.. and stay for a week. Munich may be the country’s most expensive city, but is worth every penny.
Population: 1,337,000 (2007)
When To Go: Alpine weather is unpredictablle, but the summer months (May to September) are pretty good.
Don’t Miss: The Alte Pinakothek with its extraordinary collection of European art.
The view from the south tower of the Cathedral, which can never be spoiled- no taller building may ever be erected in the city.
Nymphenburg Palace, 6 km (4 mi) from the city centre – a 17th century Baroque royal summer residence surrounded by a wonderful park.
Munich’s most famous beer hall, Hofbräuhaus am Platz, located in the city centre – bring on the lederhosen and oompah band!
The Christmas Market – takes place from early December until Christmas Eve in Marienplatz and consists of all manner of stalls selling festive delights.
Oktoberfest – a two week festival held each year, known as the ‘largest people’s fair in the world’. The Mayor of Munich opens each festival by tapping a keg and declaring ‘O ‘zapft ist!’ (it’s tapped!)
You Should Know: Munich recently changed its motto from ‘The world city with a heart’ to the bolder ‘Munich loves you’ – and the feeling will surely be mutual.