Munich (München)

Munich is located on the Isar River in the state of Bavaria in south-east Germany. The city is best known for its Beer Festival when thousands of party-goers descend on the City for Oktoberfest and its bier halls and bier tents, but there is a lot more to see in Munich, one of the great cities of Germany and Europe.

The Oktoberfest Festival started on October 12th, 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig the 1st) to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen and I was on that day that the Crown Prince organised a Horserace and invited all of Munich residents to celebrate his marriage.

While today the horserace is almost forgotten, the celebration drinks have not been, and today those Steins continue to be filled with Munich’s finest beer in celebration of Ludwig’s wedding to Princess Therese. Zum Wohl! (To your Health!) Prost! (Cheers!).

Oktoberfest officially in 2017 is from September 16th to October 3rd’; in 2018 from September 22nd to October 7th and in 2019 from September 21st to October 6th. People come from all over the world to enjoy this celebration but there is no doubt the Beer will however continue to flow in Munich at all times of the year, with the city making claim to be “the Beer Capital of the World”.

Oktoberfest is the busiest time in Munich, so if you intend to head here, make sure that you book accommodation as early as you can. The beer drinking is just one part of the party and there are lots of activities such as a fairground with a 1920’s merry-go-round, wobbly wheel bike races, Ferris wheel and of course great Bavarian food to eat – from Sauerkraut, to Pretzels, and other great German food.

Of course there are people who also drink to excess or get carried away with the party atmosphere, so if you are looking for a quieter time, head to Munich when Octoberfest is not happening. There’s a lot to see with beautiful architecture, art galleries, the BMW Museum and German (Deutsches) Museum (one of the biggest in Germany) all here in a vibrant and stylish city.

There are so many museums, palaces, art galleries, parks and gardens in Munich it is hard to choose which one or ones to see, but many are located relatively close to each other in the Altstadt (Old City) and there is a special bus that runs from the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) to the east Station (Ostbahnhof) that stops next to the main museums and galleries.

These are just some of the main sights–

  • MarienPlatz is the central square where you will find the Tourist Office and also the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) where there is an amazing Spielzeugmuseum with historic children’s toys and games and the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) where at 11am, 12am and 5pm the carillon bells of the Glockenspiel ring out. In the centre of the square there is the Column of St Mary and also close by the Fish Fountain.
  • The BMW Weld Museum – S Bahn Station, Olymplatzenturm.  Absolutely great to see, but see the Cars section of this website for more information.
  • Residenz-Museum (Palace) – Marx-Joseph Platz. Certainly if you like to see opulent rooms and amazing Rococo furnishing and decor, the Residenz Museum should definitely be top on your list of places to see. This Palace was where the Wittelsbach Bavarian Royal Family lived surrounded by their wealth and the architectural and artistic beauty that you will see when you visit. The Hofgarten (gardens) are here too, with fountains and a garden Pavilion and also the incredibly beautiful Cuvilliés-Theatre.
  • Schloss Nymphenburg – (Palace) – Don’t miss this one! The Palace is north of the Old City (Altstadt) facing a lake and the Schloβgarden Canal all within its own formal garden parkland. This Palace is sensational inside and close by there are the smaller Palace Pavilion buildings – the Amalienburg – with its Hall of Mirrors, Badenburg, Pagodenburg, Magdalenenklause and the Marstallmuseum – the Riding Stables where the carriages, sedan chair and even Royal Sleighs are on show, along with an amazing Porcelain collection.  Every one of these Palaces is unique in its own right and worth seeing, with the Park itself stretching out into the English Garden (Englischer Garten) – making this park one of the world’s biggest city parks, rivalling Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London. You could easily spend a day here seeing the Palaces and even in summer rowing a boat on the Lake (Kleinhesseloher See) or hiring a bike to ride around the Park area.
  • Some of the cold water flowing on the Isar River that flows from the Tirol Alp area of Austria, is piped to the Englischer Garten, what they call the Eisbach and the water surges out to create a wave of water that some surfers, one at a time, surf on. It is quite a sight to see! The Isar River itself has small beach areas, parks and walkways beside it and in the height of summer, many people head to the River to sunbathe, some in the nude too.
  • Schleissheim Palace – is located in the outer northern suburbs of Munich in Oberschleiβheim. To get there take an S1 Bahn suburban train to Oberschleiβheim and then a bus 292 or 295 to the Palace. Here you will be able to see the Old and New Palaces and the Lustheim Palace and their formal gardens. The Flugwerft Aviation Museum is close by here too on Effnerstrasse 18.
  • CHURCHES – there are a number of beautiful churches in Munich, but four  of the most interesting and special are the Frauenkirke built in 1468-88 with its two clock towers and onion top roofs; the AssamKirche  on Sendlinger Strasse 34, built in 1746 with its incredible ceiling frescos; St Peterskirche at Rindermarkt 1 built in 1150 with its high tower, sculptures, altar and ceilings and the Baroque Catholic Theatiner Kirche at Salvadoreplatz 2A built in 1690.
  • Olympiapark – and Olympiaturm Tower – This Park is where the 1972 Olympic Games were held. Today the Park is used for sporting and cultural events. There are great views from the top of the tower.
  • Deutsches Museum – Museumsinsel 1 - This is a huge museum with lots of technology to see, with lots of interactive displays, and changing exhibitions always happening.
  • Alte Pinakothek Art Museum Gallery – Strasse 27. This is where you will find the paintings of the old German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian Master Painters.
  • Pinakothek der Moderne – Strasse 40. Here you will find paintings by Dali, Picasso, Cezanne, Andy Warhol and others as well as architectural, industrial and graphic design work.
  • Neue Pinakothek – Barer Strasse 29.  This is where you will find more paintings from the 19th and 20th Century, by such luminaries as Cézanne, Degas, van Gogh, Gauguin and others.
  • Museum Reich der Kristalle – Theresienstrasse  41. This is where you can see amazing gemstones and jewels.
  • Antikensammlungen – Königsplatz 1. This museum is full of antiquities from the Etruscan, Greek and Roman Civilisations.
  • Pälontologisches Museum – Richard Wagner Strasse 10. This is where you will find dinosaur bones and pre-historic finds.
  • Glyptothek – Koenikplatz 3.  This is a Museum full of sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Judisches Museum – Sankt-Jakobs Platz 16. This museum is located in a Jewish part of the City and has records and information about Jewish History and the Holocaust.
  • Allianz Arena – is the main sports arena in Munich. The Arena can hold up to 70,000 spectators and this is where the famous Munich Football Club – the FC Bayern Müchen and TSV 1860 München play. The stadium looks like a large inflated tube, seeming to almost float, and in a way it does as it is constructed from 2874 ETFE –Foil air panels. It is pretty incredible to see it in the day, but it is even more spectacular at night.
  • Victory Gate (Siegestor) – If you have seen the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, then you should also look to see the Siegestor on the Ludwigstraβe in Munich – that was built between 1843 and 1852. If you get close to the Victory Gate, look for the German inscription, which translated says “Dedicated to Victory, destroyed by War, to commemorate Peace”. It was rebuilt after being bombed in World War Two – hence the inscription.

Munich is a beautiful city to see and no doubt seeing some of the places above will delight you when you spend time in the City.

Like a number of German cities, Munich was also bombed in World War Two and it was also the site of the Dauchau KZ Gedenkstätte  Concentration Camp, established by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in 1933, initially to house Political prisoners, and then over the years until its liberation by American forces in 1945 many thousands of other internees. Of the 200,000 or so prisoners who were interned in Dauchau, some 41,500 Jewish, Roma, Homosexuals, captured prisoners of war and others brought here would be gassed, shot or die from hunger, despair, typhoid or other causes. There are no smiles or laughter to be found here.

To get to Dauchau, take a tour,  or from the Munich Haupbahnhof, catch an S2 Train (Direction Saubachsiedlung) to Dauchau Station and from there take Bus 726 to the Camp.

Munich has an excellent transport system with the U Bahn (underground) and S Bahn (Surburban Network) as well as trams and buses, and also trains that head to places all over Europe. To see Munich you can purchase a single or Group (Gruppen) 1 or 3 Day Pass (Tageskarte) that will allow you to travel on the S Bahn and U Bahn, buses and trams in the Inner Zone (Innenraum), BUT if you want to go to Dauchau and outer zone areas your Ticket/Pass needs to be a XXL Pass (extra cost).

The Gruppen Pass (Group) means that you have the 1 Ticket Pass for you and family – check details where you buy your Pass/ Ticket. It is also possible to buy a City Tour card too – which has discounts to various attractions. Note: On Sundays, most Museums and Art Galleries have a 1 Euro special cost, but this cheaper price means more people visiting.

As a complete contrast to Dauchau and just 30 minutes to an hour south-west from the centre of Munich there is Lake Starnberg.

You can also get here by the S Bahn heading to Starnberg (the most popular destination), or Berg, Possenhofen or Leoni – the small town/villages that are located beside the lake. The lake is around 20 kilometres long and five kilometres wide and is closer to the alpine mountain ranges of Benediktenwand and Wetterstein, with Hop on-Hop off Ferries taking people around the lake cruising past the places of interest and stopping at each of the main wharves. In Berg there is a small cross in the water marking the spot where King Ludwig II drowned and a chapel nearby and in the lake there is Rose Island and in Possenhofen there is the Castle – Schloss Possenhofen. The Ferry takes around 3 hours to travel fully around the lake stopping at each of the villages, so if you plan to come here, it is worth getting here early morning to make the most of your day on the lake.

Munich is a city of around 1.5 million people and as you can see from the places listed above that there is a lot to see and do here. There are lots of hotels and places to stay, probably the most convenient hotels being in the Old Town area (Altstadt) and you can see a range of hotels and places to stay on the booking part of this website.

Of course there are many restaurants, bars and shops to visit, and Munich is well set up to cater for tourists with many people speaking English too – making it easy to get around and see the places that are of interest to you.

I hope you have a great time here in Munich.

Happy travels

Geoff Stuart 

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