Munich is one of my favorite cities in the world. It combines a rich history, beautiful architecture, picturesque landscapes, and great food.
The German name for Munich is “München”, which means “Home of the Monks”, and describes the original founding of a monastery here in 750 AD. In 1157, the monastery was given permission to open a market at the site, which had also become a main waypoint from the Isar River to the Austrian town of Salzburg. About 100 years later, the Wittlesbach family, the leader ruling family in that region, established their home in Munich and it was their family that began the development of Munich into a city. The Wittelsbach family maintained control of Munich until 1918. After 1918. Munich’s later history was tied to Adolph Hitler’s rise to power.
Not only is Munich a place to visit itself, but it is also the place to start visiting Bavaria and southern Germany, with easy access to the Bavarian Alps and the castles of King Ludwig. It is also an easy trip to Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Dachau, Stuttgart, and Augsburg
And, there is no “bad” time to go to Munich. In September is Oktoberfest, and in December is the Christkindlmarkt. Summers are generally in the low 70’s. Winters can be cold and snowy, but tourist crowds are less, making it a good time to see the city at a relaxed pace.
The Marienplatz is the heart of Munich, located in the pedestrian zone. The square is bordered by both the old and new town halls. The new town hall (Neues Rathaus) was built in the late 1800s. The facade of the new town hall includes a “Glockenspiel” – animated characters that depict the history of Munich. These characters are animated three times each day.
Also nearby is the Munich Cathedral (Frauenkirche).
Located on an island in the middle of the Isar River, the Deutsches Museum is one of the world’s largest Science and Technology museums. When you walk in the front door of this Museum, you are greeted by two full-sized ships. In addition, there are rooms in the Museum dedicated to space, flight, nanotechnology, and biology.
The Museum is an effortless 15-minute walk from the Marienplatz.
Also near the Marienplatz is the Viktualienmarkt. It is an open air market that has been operating for over 200 years. Visitors here can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, or a beer and sausage.
From the Marienplatz, going past the Residenz, you can reach the English Gardens. The gardens, covering an area of 2 square miles, was created in the late 1700’s and is the largest greenspace in Munich. It was originally proposed by Count von Rumford, an American-born chemist as a place to be enjoyed by both the general public and the aristocracy in Munich.
Leaving the Marienplatz and venturing out, the Olympic Park is located about 4 miles from the Marienplatz and is best reached by U-Bahn.
This is the site of the 1972 summer Olympic games. The three main facilities here are the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Hall, and the Swimming Hall. All three are covered by a large transparent canopy on the photo’s left. The large tower is a television transmission tower. At the top of this tower are an observation deck and a restaurant. The park is still used for sporting events and open-air concerts.
The Alte Pinothek is an art museum showcasing artworks from the 14th to 18th centuries. It is actually one of three art museums in Munich, the other two covering the 19th century and modern art, and located nearby.
The Alte Pinokothek is located in the Maxvorstadt area, near the Egyptian Art Museum, a museum of mineralogy, and the Munich Technical University. It is a 25-minute walk to this museum from the Marienplatz.
The Nymphenburg Palace was the summer palace of the Wittelsbach family. Construction began in 1664, but continued for several decades afterward. The palace contains baroque furnishings dating back to the early 1700’s and a garden area that is the second largest greenspace in Munich.
The palace is about 3.5 miles from the Marienplatz, and is best reached by U-Bahn.
The Residenz is the largest city palace in Germany and was constructed by the Wittelsbach family and was later the home of King Ludwig. The palace is now a museum.
The Residenz is a 7-minute walk from the Marienplatz.
Photo by: dbrnjhrj – stock.adobe.com
The Hofbräuhaus is the most popular beer hall in Munich and was first established in 1589. It was moved to the current location in 1654. Originally created as the court brewery, it was opened to the public in 1830.
It is located just off the Marienplatz.
Located near the Olympic Park is the the BMW Museum. It was build in the 1970’s and shows how BMW’s are built, along with displays of BMW vintage cars and motorcycles.
One side note: If you buy a new BMW from an American dealer, you can arrange to pick up the car in Munich. There, a technician will go over the car with you. You can then drive the car around Germany, and then have it shipped back to you in the US.
Photo by: skovalsky – stock.adobe.com
Getting There and Getting Around
Traveling to and around Munich is easy, with direct access to Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss Airport from several cities in the US.
Munich has a very extensive and efficient subway system (U-Bahn) making travel through the city and surrounding areas very easy and convenient.
In addition, the terrain in Munich is very flat, and the city center, like many German cities, is a Pedestrian only (“Fußgänger” or “Verkehrfrei”) zone.