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Interesting Facts about Munich

Updated on April 19, 2014
Munich | Source

Munich is a city in Germany and the capital of the state (Land) of Bavaria. Its name in German is München. An important religious, cultural, and commercial center, Munich is situated on the Isar River, about 25 miles (40 km) north of the Bavarian Alps. The University of Munich (the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) was founded in 1471. The city also has a technical university, an academy of fine arts, a music conservatory, a major symphony orchestra, an opera house, and many theaters. Munich's population has grown from about 832,000 in 1950 to an estimated 1,378,176 in 2012.

Description of the City

Medieval Munich was surrounded by ramparts and moats and could be entered only through huge gates. Three of these old gateways, the Karlstor, the Sendlinger Tor, and the Isartor, have been preserved. Main streets leading from the Karlstor and the Isartor end in the Marienplatz, the heart of Munich. In or near this square are the 15th-century Gothic-style Old City Hall and the 19th-century neo-Gothic New City Hall.

Marienplatz | Source

Northwest of the Marienplatz is the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), built from 1468 to 1488 in Flamboyant Gothic style. The onion domes, constructed in 1525 atop two symmetrical towers on the western side of the church, have become the symbol of Munich. A 15th-century altarpiece depicting the Crucifixion and scenes from the life of Christ is in the south chapel. The north chapel has stained-glass windows that date from 1392 and an altarpiece painted about 1510. Under the south tower is the 17th-century mausoleum of Louis (Ludwig) of Bavaria.

Northeast of the Marienplatz is the Residenz (city palace of the Wittelsbach dynasty), which took about five centuries (1400–1900) to build. The palace's Treasury (Schatzkammer) houses exhibits of items such as crowns, diadems, and the like; a chased crucifix from the early 11th century; other crucifixes in ivory; swords encrusted with precious stones; and vases and plates of jasper, jade, or lapis lazuli. The palace museum contains the Antiquarium, which is the oldest part of the palace (1570); the porcelain rooms, which house works from Meissen, Nymphenburg, and Sèvres; and the 18th-century court chapel, which has a fine compartmented ceiling. The palace theater (Altes Residenz-theater), built in 1751–1753, is an elegant court theater. The opera house (Bayerisches Nationaltheater), built in 1811, was once one of the world's great music centers.

Alte Pinakothek
Alte Pinakothek | Source

One of the finest art museums in Europe, the Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery), is situated a few blocks northwest of the Residenz. It was built between 1826 and 1836 in the Venetian style of the Renaissance. It houses the paintings collected by the Wittelsbachs beginning in the 16th century. Among the artists represented are Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Roger van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Perugino, Botticelli, Raphael, El Greco, Murillo, Tintoretto, Hans Holbein the Elder, and many more.

Other important buildings in Munich include the Stadtmuseum (1520; Historical Museum of the City), Munich's largest secular Gothic building; the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Bavaria), created in 1855; the Asamkirche (1733–1735; Church of St. John Nepomuk or Church of the Asam Brothers), built in rococo style by the Asam brothers; and the Theatinerkirche (1674–1696; Church of the Theatines), built in a synthesis of Renaissance and baroque styles. Michaelskirche (Church of St. Michael), begun in 1583 and consecrated in 1597, has a majestic barrel vault in Renaissance style.

Environs of Munich

Nymphenburg Palace
Nymphenburg Palace | Source

On the western outskirts of the city is the Nymphenburg Palace, the summer residence of the Bavarian kings. It is a baroque building set in a pleasant park. It was begun in 1664, and additions were made as late as the 18th century. The interior decorations are largely rococo.

The palace park has extensive gardens dating from 1701; a grand canal; pavilions scattered throughout the grounds; and a hunting lodge, the Amalienburg, built in 1724–1739 for Princess Amalia, the wife of Elector Karl Albrecht. The botanical gardens of the Nymphenburg were laid out in 1909–1914.


Hofgarten | Source

The principal parks of Munich are the Hofgarten, in front of the Residenz, and the Englischer Garten (English Garden), dating from 1789. The latter extends several miles through the city and derives its name from the fact that it was laid out by Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (who was a native of Woburn, Mass.).

Shopping Areas

The chief shopping streets of Munich are Neuhauer Strasse and Kaufinger Strasse, between the central railway station and the Marienplatz. The fashionable shopping areas are Maffeistrasse, Pacellistrasse, and Promenadeplatz. Many of the city's antique shops are located on the Ottostrasse, near the Maximilianplatz. Art galleries are centered under the arcades of the Hofgarten.

Beer Halls

Beer is drunk in considerable quantities in the many beer halls that dot the city. The most celebrated of them, the late-19th-century Hofbräuhaus, is where Hitler in 1920 first announced his Nazi party program. In the beer halls, bands play lively tunes as the customers sing, eat the white sausage (Weisswurst) that is a Munich specialty, and drink beer. Other foods served with the beer are Schweinshaxen (pig's knuckles) and Steckerlfisch (fish roasted on small spits).

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The traditional German Fasching (Carnival) takes place in January and February. It is celebrated in Munich with countless costume balls, parades, singing, and dancing. In March the strong-beer season is celebrated, and in October the great Oktoberfest (October Festival) marks the engagement in 1810 of Crown Prince Louis and Princess Theresa. This huge fair, held for 16 days in the Theresienwiese (Theresa's Meadow), attracts millions of visitors annually to its beer tents and other amusements. The Feast of Corpus Christi is honored with immense processions along streets decorated with young beech leaves.


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    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      What a wonderful article on Munich! I have visited there many times and I love the city. You mention all the great things this city has to offer. I love shopping there and seeing the historic buildings, churches and cathedrals. I even spent a weekend celebrating the Oktoberfest there. I have such lovely memories of Munich and Germany as a whole. This is a must see city in Europe. Thanks for the memories!