There’s more to Oktoberfest than Munich!
Munich was my departure point on my Romantic Road trip. You may opt to visit a lovely medieval village like Augsburg or Füssen for instance. If you have more time to explore, why not the whole route! Check out my blog post for itinerary suggestion and details for a cool trip.
The capital of Germany’s Bavaria region, Munich is best known for it’s beer-fuelled autumn Oktoberfest, but there’s more than just that. Being Germany’s third largest city and the capital of Bavaria, Munich constantly tops quality of life polls and is rated as the best city to live in the country. Fast becoming German’s capital of luxury, cosmopolitan Munich is the country’s southern belle, with highbrow art, a fine-dining scene like no other and awe-inspiring architecture. Let's take a look at what you need to know about Munich, shall we?
Marienplatz has been the heart of the city since 1158 when it was used for markets and even tournaments. Today, it’s best known for the Christmas markets. The square is dominated by the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), which was completed in 1874. It was designed by Georg Hauberrisser, who won a competition to design the city’s new town hall. One of its most famous features is the elaborate Glockenspiel cuckoo clock with a carousel of figures dancing at 11am, noon, and 5pm.
The main church of South Bavaria, the Cathedral Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) dates back to 1488. The signature feature of the church is a rogue footprint found near the door which is said to be from the devil himself.
Famous for being the oldest church in Munich, St Peter’s Church was built by monks and sits atop Petersburg Hill that’s a totally awesome sight to behold. Climb up the tower for a breathtaking view of the city.
The Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) serves as the Toy Museum today. Underneath the tower is a gate, where many people pass unknowningly every day, which was in medieval times the entrance into the walled city of Munich.
Legend has it that leaving a rose and/or cupping the breast of Juliet Capulet Statue will bring one luck.
Known for being one of the most beautiful and ornate palaces in Europe, Munich Residenz was once inhabited by emperors, kings, and queens. This place started out as a 14th-century castle for the Wittelsbach monarchs, and has since been filled with art. Make sure you see the Italian Renaissance Grotto courtyard and the Baroque Ancestral Gallery.
Built in 1755, Cuvilliés Theatre is built in the Rococo style, famous for its tiered layers and box seating.
Feldherrnhalle in Odeonsplatz was built under King Ludwig I (not to be confused with Ludwig II, the fairy tale king) from 1841 to 1844 in honor of the Bavarian Army. Hofgarten (Court Garden) nearby is a peaceful garden that has long been an oasis in the middle of the city. During the National Socialism it became an important place for the Nazis and a memorial was erected, where everyone had to give the Hitler Salute (Hitlergruss).
The Viktualienmarkt is Munich’s biggest outdoor food market. It originally started in Marienplatz as a farmers’ market where people would come to do their weekly food shopping. Today it’s a real foodie hub, where you can buy gourmet local produce, from cheese and meat to bread and honey. Homemade soup and a pretzel would be my recommendations. Dallmayr delicatessen, however, on Dienerstrasse is another but a high-end culinary address. The building also houses a top restaurant, a café-bistro and a champagne bar.
Karlsplatz is situated half way between the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and Marienplatz.
Of Munich's original four outer gates that gave entrance to the city during the Middle Ages, only three remain: the Karlstor, Isartor and Sendlinger Tor. Isartor’s central tower was built in 1337 and gave entrance to the Isar, the river flowing through Munich. The smaller, octagonal towers were only built later, in the early fifteenth century. The facade of the Isartor is decorated with murals depicting the triumphal procession. Built in the mid-nineteenth century, Munich's Victory Gate (Siegestor) has come to serve as a symbol for peace.
Munich is a surprisingly green city with plenty of parks to unwind in. Biggest and best-known is the English Garden. It was built in 1789 and is one of the world’s largest city parks. It’s inspired by classic English gardens with lawns, lakes, streams and pavilions. Admire the view from the Greek-style Monopteros, drink a stein at the Chinese Pagoda beer garden, and watch the surfers on the Eisbach river. Yes local surfers don’t let being miles from the sea stop them, instead they catch a few waves on the Eisbach river in the middle of the park.
Of all the monuments in Munich's green open spaces, few are as striking or dominating as Angel of Peace (Friedensengel), a bronze beauty in Maximilian Park. It was built to commemorate 25 years of peace after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
If not world’s, Munich’s most famous beer hall The Hofbräuhaus was built by in 1607. More than 100 active groups of regulars visit Hofbräuhaus, and the oldest regulars have held their table for 70 years. Needless to say you need a reservation!
BMW Museum, outside the city features exhibits about the history of BMW cars and motorcycles with historic vehicles and prototypes.
Munich is a great city for art lovers with it’s own art museum district known as the Kunstareal. It’s home to museums covering Greek, Roman and Egyptian art. But best-known are the three Pinakothek art museums – the Alte Pinakothek for Old Masters holding more than 700 European masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the end of the Rococo period, the Neue Pinakothek for 18th- & 19th-century European art, and the Pinakothek der Moderne for contemporary art.
Nymphenburg Palace owes its foundation as a summer residence to the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Max Emanuel. With its unique combination of architecture and garden design, Nymphenburg is one of the best examples in Europe of a synthesis of the arts. The interior rooms present exhibitions and works of art from the Baroque period to Classicism. The tour of the palace also includes a look at the world-famous "Gallery of Beauties", with portraits commissioned by King Ludwig I. The 36 portraits feature women from royalty (including King Ludwig's relations), nobility, and middle-classes.
Try out the Turkish restaurant Kismet for a different taste of meal and why not Trader Vic's for Polynesian cocktails! They have been my favourite in the german city, yes!!
Did you know the local name for Munich is “Minga”? Its name is derived from old German meaning "the monks' place". If you want to enjoy the beer gardens and Munich’s beautiful parks, the best time to visit is from early April to early June, right before the tourist season starts.
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