Explore the Bavarian City of Munich, it's old city, the English Gardens and River Isar. Spend some time in the mountain towns and hamlets or take a train to the top of Germany's Highest Mountain. Discover the past in the concentration camp at Dachau.
Kaufinger Strasse runs through the old town, the area which is predominantly of interest to tourists.
Munich from Above
The city of Munich, capital of Bavaria gets its name- “Monks Place” from the Benedictine monks who founded the city. The founding monks are depicted on the city’s coat of arms. St. Peter’s Church or Peterskirche is close to Marienplatz and the New Town Hall. The view from the top of the tower – is well worth the climb of 300+ steps. On clear days one can see as far south as the Austrian Alps. The church is the oldest in the city and dates back to the 11th century.
The Sonnenstrase, Maximillians Platz and both Karl-Scharnagal and TH Wimmer Ring roads bound the old city almost within a circle. Kaufinger Strasse starting at Karlsplatz and leading down to Marienplatz, with its continuation into Tal Strasse bisect the inner city. Close to Neuhauser and Kaufinger Strasse there are a number of notable churches, shopping malls and pubs. Approaching Neuhauser Street from Karlsplatz you pass under the city gate of Karlstor. St. Michaels , a Jesuit church along Neuhauser Street was built in the 16th century. Many of the paintings and images within the church commemorate members of the Wittelsbach family who played a key role in the counter reformation, maintaining Munich as a Catholic city. The sculpture close to the door off Neuhauser Street shows St. Michael fighting the demons of evil. Next to St. Michaels Church is the former Marianist Church now a shopping mall. The well know pub and restaurant Augustiner is on the right hand side (walking towards Marienplatz ) of Neuhauser street, this pub/restaurant can be heaving with eaters and drinkers from mid-morning.
This pedestrianized square is regarded as being the heart of Munich. Apart from sitting out enjoying a coffee or cool beer in the warmer months, Marienplatz,named after St. Mary’s column, standing tall in the centre of the square with the symbolic faces of war, plague, famine and heresy at its base, is surrounded by notable buildings such as the New Town Hall ( thought it doesn’t look so new now ), with its twice daily display of rotating characters, and the old town hall just on the adjacent side of the square, which has been completely restored after major damage in WWII.
The new town hall overlooks Marienplatz. It was built between 1867 and 1909. During the long period of its construction there was continuous disquiet that it’s tower would overshadow the FrauenKirchen or city’s Cathedral.
The rotating dancers or carillon represent two dances. The upper one is a characterisation of a tournament which took place 1568 to mark the wedding of Duke William V while below is the Coopers’ dance, a rejoicement after the end of the plaque which devastated the city in the early 16th century.
The Town hall is square shaped with an inner courtyard which can be accessed from Weinstrasse.
After passing under the arch of the Old Town Hall you enter Tal Strasse. Along the street there are a number of pubs, churches and museums. The church of the Holy Spirit / Heiliggeistkirche is just on the right as one passes under the old town hall arch. The Viktualienmarkt is just further to the right. At the far end of the street is the 14th century tri tower Isartor standing guard over the city. The Valentin Museum is located within one of the towers.
Munich city as far as the main point of tourist interest are concerned, is fairly compact with much to see in a small area.
Platzl Square owes its reputation to being the location of one of the most famous Munich pubs, the Hofbräuhaus . The brewery was founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V, the duke of Bavaria. It original brewed beer for Royal Court located nearby. The beer developed a high reputation among the noble classes due to its purity, and was so popular that during the thirty years war King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden withdrew his threat to burn the city in return for over a half a million barrels of Hofbräuhaus beer, plus some hostages and probably cash and other treasures. During the first part of the 20th century, the beer halls became venue for political meetings. Lenin is supposed to have been a regular visitor to the Hofbräuhaus. The Munich communist government in 1919 made the beer hall its headquarters, as talking communist philosophy was thirsty work. Later in 1920, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists held their inaugural meeting on the third floor of the Hofbräuhaus and through 1920, Hitler addressed large meetings of up to 2000 beer swilling followers on the ground floor. In the square there are a number of restaurants and pubs.
This large square between Theatinstraße and Ludwigstraße was developed in the early 19th century and named after the former concert hall which still stands on the southwest end of the square. The twin towered Theatine Church and Feldherrnhalle overlook the square. The Odenplatz has seen many parades, processions and public events. The parades would normally proceed down Ludwigstraße to the Feldherrnhalle. Every year the Oktoberfest parade follows this route. In the course of the Beer Hall Putsch, the Nazis marched on the Feldherrnhalle, the march met with government opposition and after a number of Nazis were killed the Putsch was brought to an end.
The Viktualienmarkt is close to the Old Rathaus and behind St. Peter’s Church. It is open daily and the 140 small shops and stalls sell farm produce such as poultry, cheese and fruit. While the market was originally a farmers market it has migrated to being a specialist and gourmet style food court.
The FrauenKirche or Our Lady’s Church is the Munich Cathedral and seat of the Archbishop. Due to its size and twin towers it’s a landmark building within Munich. Local regulations keep buildings below the height of the Cathedral’s towers. The south tower is open during the tourist season and offers good views of the Alps on fine days. The church is constructed of red brick in the late Gothic Style though the twin domes were added later and are of the Renaissance Period.
Max Joseph Platz
The square is named after King Maximillian Joseph. The National Theatre opened in 1818 is on the east side. On the west side there are a series of middle class houses. On the north is the King’s Residence Königsbau, designed in the style of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The Residenz Theatre is between the Königsbau and the National Theatre. The south side is dominated by the arcades of former Palais Toerring-Jettenbach which was built around 1750. In the middle of the square there is a memorial to King Maximillian.
Theatinstraße is the main street connecting Odensplatz and MarienPlatz. Today it is mainly a shopping street. The street opens out and runs alongside a park close to the New Rathaus. This park is covered in Beer Halls during the Ocktoberfest.
The River Isar flows through Munich just below the old part of the city, the path ways alongside the river makes for a pleasant walk. A reasonably good circular walk takes one from Marienplatz, through the Isartor, down to the river at the Deutches Museum, then turning left and following the river downstream to Max Joseph Bridge. Crossing the bridge you soon come to the English Gardens. Walking south through the gardens, you can come to the Hofgardens and through the gardens to Odensplatz and down Theaterinstrasse to Marienplatz. The River Isar rises in the Austrian Tyrol, flows through a number of German towns. After heading north, it flows north east after Munich and enters the Danube near Deggendorf. The river is about 300 km long. The small gravel islands in the river as it flows through Munich keep changing with the winter and spring torrents, though the larger islands such as Museumsinsel – the home of the Deutsches Museum and Praterinsel are protected.
The English Gardens takes its name from a garden form developed in England (such as Hyde Park) in the first part of the 18th century. This style soon spread across European cities, replacing the more formally designed French style gardens of the 17th century (e.g. Versailles Gardens) The English Garden style would generally include a lake, open rolling lawns, bordered by rows of trees, helping to create a pastoral setting within a city. This style of garden became predominant in the 18th century and was taken up by the French landscape gardeners. The garden style became common around the world.
The Hofgarten is just off Odensplatz on the west side and the English Gardens on the north side and is bounded on the east by the State Chancellery or Staatskanzlei and its memorial dome. The building was originally the army museum but was redesigned with glass side wings and re-opened in 1993. The garden was built during the period 1613-1617 by Maximilian I. In the centre there is a pavilion to the goddess Diana, from which paths lead diagonally from its eight arches across the park. Both on the west and northern sides the walks are arcaded and the walls depicted scenes from Bavarian History.
This wide royal boulevard was named after King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The street is lined with public buildings, St. Ludwig church and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität . It stretches from Odeonsplatz to the triumphant arch of Siegestor. The boulevard has been used over the centuries for parades and funeral processions. The Siegestor or Victory Tower is styled similar to Marble Arch London, Arc de Triomphe Paris and India Gate in New Delhi. The Arch was extensively damaged in WWII and after partial restoration, this monument glorifying victorious war was rededicated to peace. The following inscription is on the wall. Dem Sieg geweiht, vom Krieg zerstört, zum Frieden mahnend, which translates as "Dedicated to victory, destroyed by war, reminding of peace"
Places to Visit.
The Deutsches Museum is the largest science and technology museum in the world. The museum has over 25,000 exhibits in over 50 fields of technology and science. The city council donated the island to the museum in 1903. The Flugwerft Schleißheim and Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum are also part of the Deutsches Museum, the former dealing with aviation and the later with transport.
The concentration camp at Dachau is about 40 minutes by train from Munich. The camp has no entry fee.
The Dachau concentration camp just a short S Bahn train journey from Munich Central Station was the first of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany. Originally it was intended to hold political prisoners but this was extended to include general workers and later Jews, German and Austrian criminals and foreign nationals from occupied territories. The camp was liberated just before the end of the war.
The Nazis were suspicious of the power of the churches and many clergy were constantly monitored. Nearly 3000 were imprisoned in Dachau, the majority being Polish Catholics. The churches negotiated with the Nazis to intern clergy in one location together and allow them practice their faith. In the 1960s memorial churches of the three faiths Catholic, Protestant, Jew was erected n site.
The camp was in use for over 12 years during which the number of inmates exceeded 200,000 of which approx. 32,000 died. Due to the ever increasing death toll due to malnutrition, had work, disease and mistreatment, crematoria were built to dispose of the dead bodies. When the number of dead became too large for the small crematorium in a wooden shed, a much larger brick building with a number of fires was built. Within the large crematorium a gas chamber was built though it would seem as if it was little used. The ashes of the dead were dumped behind the crematoria, these ash heaps have been turned into graves of the unknown.
Take a break from the city and visit the highlands around Garmisch-Partenkirchen and on to the Zugspitze.
Garmisch Partenkirchen is a twinned resort town in the Bavarian Alps. The town is about 1 hour 40 minutes from Munich by train. Parenkirchen is the older of the two towns dating back to Roman times. Partenkirchen lies to the east of the railway station while Garmisch is to the west. The area is popular as a winter sport location and a favourite with hikers in winter. From the town one can take a train right up and through the mountain to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.
The Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain rising to over 2,960 metres. The mountain has a number of glaciers flowing slowly down – two of the glaciers are the largest in Germany The mountain is popular with climbers and was first conquered in the 1820s, with many ridge climbs, glacier climbs and very difficult assents. A Railway runs through the mountain from Eibsee (continuing down to Garmisch). The track is a rack rail allowing the train to pull itself up though the mountain and descend under control. The last stop on the train is at Zugspitzplatt after which one can take a cable car to the peak.
The rack rail train terminates inside the mountain at Zugspitzplatt. The journey time from Grainau is about 40 minutes. After Eibsee the train enters the mountain as the track winds its way higher and higher till it reaches the terminus. From Zugspitzplatt, you can take a cable car to the Zugspitz peak and from there, if you prefer an alternative return journey you can take another cable car back down to Eibsee and connect with the train as it heads back too Grainau.
The train starts in Garmish Partenkirchen – winds its way up along the east side of the valley till it reaches Grainau. Here the train terminates and passengers change to an awaiting rack train for the final ascent.