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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrMunich, known as München in German, is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. It is the capital of the southeast German state of Bavaria , and its metropolitan area is home to over 5 million people. Munich is one of the fastest growing cities in Germany, and frequently sits near the top of rankings of the world's most livable cities. It is located on the River Isar and is famous for its culture, particularly its annual Oktoberfest celebrations, as well as its museums, architecture, churches, nightlife, and historic monuments. There's something for everyone in Munich, whether you've come to enjoy its weather, taste every German beer you can find, explore its historic avenues, listen to the chiming of the glockenspiel, view priceless works of art, eat traditional Bavarian foods, or spend the evening listening to lively music in one of its famous beer halls.
HistoryMunich was founded sometime in the 12th century, and officially became a city in 1175. Its name means “by the monks”, which comes from the the fact that there had originally been a Benedictine monastery in the area. In 1506, the city was named the capital of Bavaria. During the 16th century, it was an important center of the Counter-Reformation. In the early 19th century, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, at which point it became an important center of science, art, and culture. During World War II, it was used as the headquarters of the Nazi Party and was heavily bombed, though it has since been reconstructed and has become one of Germany’s most thriving cities.
SightseeingIt’s nearly impossible to run out of things to do in Munich. It is home to dozens of fascinating attractions, including palaces, museums, gardens, churches, historical sites, parks, and other landmarks.
MarienplatzMarienplatz is the main square in the heart of Munich, which is home to the city’s new and old City Hall buildings, known as Neues Rathaus and Altes Rathaus in German. It is named after the Mariensäule, a column topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, which is located in the center of the square.
Each day, visitors gather in Marienplatz at 11:00 to see the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a glockenspiel which chimes and depicts two stories using life-sized figures. The story of the marriage of Duke William V of Bavaria features jousting between knights on horseback, while the second story features the traditional Schäfflertanz dance.
Munich ResidenzThe Munich Residenz is the largest city palace in Germany, and was the former palace of the Bavarian monarchs that belonged to the House of Wittelsbach . Located in the center of the city, visitors are welcome to explore its luxurious rooms and courtyards.
Royal AvenuesIf you’re interested in architecture, then you’ll want to go for a stroll along one of Munich’s iconic royal avenues which date back to the 19th century. Briennerstraße ends at the beautiful Königsplatz square, which is located near many of the city’s most famous museums. The three other equally impressive avenues are named Ludwigstraße, Prinzregentenstraße, and Maximilianstraße, which ends at the Maximilianeum, a 19th-century palatial building that is now home to the Bavarian state parliament.
Schloss NymphenburgThe Nymphenburg Palace is a gorgeous Baroque palace that was used as the summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria. It is home to several museums, and is surrounded by a nearly 500-acre park filled with lush gardens and fountains.
Englischer GartenThe city’s most famous park is undoubtedly the Englischer Garten, a massive public park in the heart of the city. It’s the perfect place to go for a stroll on a nice day due to its serene creeks and lakes. One of the most unique aspects of the park are the standing wave areas where tourists often gather to watch local surfers demonstrate their skills.
The most popular attractions in the Englischer Garten include the Chinesischer Turm, or “Chinese Tower”, which is a wooden pagoda in the heart of the park, the Japanese tea house, and the beer gardens, which fill with visitors in the summertime.
OlympiaparkThe Munich Olympiapark was used to hold the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, and continues to be used for events such as concerts and festivals. Its large lake makes it a popular place for locals to enjoy the sunshine and go for walks.
National Theatre MunichIf you love the performing arts, you'll want to visit the National Theatre, located in Max-Joseph-Platz. It is home to the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Ballet.
Hellabrunn ZooThe Hellabrunn Zoo is one of the top-ranked zoos in all of Europe, and is located along the bank of the River Isar. Its natural habitats distinguish it from other zoos, as many of the enclosures use moats to separate animals instead of cages. It has an aquarium, an aviary, and many other animal exhibits.
Circus KroneCircus Krone is one of the largest circuses in Europe, and one of the only ones to have its own building. Its thrilling shows feature animals such as elephants, lions, monkeys, zebras, parrots, and a hippopotamus.
ChurchesSeveral of Munich's most important architectural landmarks are churches that have distinguished the city's streets since as early as the 12th century. They include:
FrauenkircheThe Frauenkirche, MUnich is a 15th-century cathedral that is one of Munich's most famous landmarks. Its two tall towers can be seen throughout the city, one of which can be climbed in order to enjoy spectacular views of Munich and the Alps in the distance.
PeterskirchePeterskirche, or "St. Peter's Church" in English, is the oldest church in Munich. It is a striking Romanesque church that was constructed in the 12th century. Its most famous features are its beautiful ceiling fresco created by German painter, Johann Baptist Zimmermann, in the 18th century and its over 90m tall tower, which is known as Alter Peter or ‘Old Peter’ to locals.
MichaelskircheMichaelskirche is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. It was constructed as an important center for the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century, and its crypt contains the tombs of several members of the House of Wittelsbach, including William V, Duke of Bavaria, and Prince Leopold of Bavaria.
TheatinerkircheTheatinerkirche is an Italian high-Baroque style church that was constructed during the 17th century to give thanks for the birth of Maximilian II Emanuel , the heir to the Bavarian throne. It is known for its unique yellow color, which later influence Southern German Baroque architecture. Like Michaelskirche, it also contains the tombs of members of the House of Wittelsbach, including King Maximilian II of Bavaria.
AsamkircheThis 18th-century church was constructed in the mid-18th century by brothers Egid Quinn Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam as a private church. However, it became a public church due to protests by citizens. It is considered to be one of the most important examples of the Southern German, Late Baroque architectural style, and is known for the fresco on its ceiling, a masterpiece called “Life of St. Nepomuk” by Cosmas Damian Asam.
MuseumsIf you love museums, then you’ll adore Munich, which has dozens of museums dedicated to history, art, technology, science, culture, and other topics. A few notable examples include:
Deutsches MuseumThe Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest science and technology museum, which features exhibits covering 50 different fields, including aviation, energy; engineering, music; printing, robotics; textiles, and dozens of other topics. The museum has various locations throughout Munich, with the main site located on a small island in the Isar River. If you're interested in science and technology, you might want to save an entire day to explore the museum's vast collections. It's also a great place to take children due to its hands-on exhibits like the Kids' Kingdom, which features hundreds of educational activities related to a wide variety of scientific topics.
Alte PinakothekThe Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art museums in the world. At the time of its construction in the early 19th century, it was also the largest museum in the world. It features an impressive collection of Old Master paintings by artists such as Raphael, Botticelli, and El Greco. It also contains a gallery especially designed to hold The Great Last Judgement by Peter Paul Rubens, one of the largest oil paintings ever created.
Neue PinakothekThe Neue Pinakothek is an art museum featuring one of the finest collections of 18th and 19th century European art in the world. It contains works by notable artists such as Goya, van Gogh, Seurat, and Degas.
Pinakothek der ModerneThe city’s modern art museum contains numerous pieces of modern and contemporary art, as well as collections related to architecture, jewelry, graphic design, photography, and new media. Some of the most famous artists represented include Picasso, Warhol, Magritte, and Kandinsky.
Munich StadtmuseumMunich's city museum contains fascinating displays related to the city’s history and culture. Its most popular exhibits are dedicated to musical instruments, puppetry, photography, film, and the history of the Nazi Party in Munich.
GlyptothekThe Glyptothek is a unique museum in Munich which houses a large collection of Greek and Roman sculptures that belonged to King Ludwig I of Bavaria . Famous pieces include a bust of the Roman Emperor Augustus and Barberini Faun, a Greek sculpture that dates back to 220 BC.
BMW MuseumCar fanatics will want to visit the BMW Museum, which features a variety of exhibits related to the history of this famous automobile manufacturer, as well as models of concept cars and numerous vehicles on display.
State Museum of Egyptian ArtThe State Museum of Egyptian Art displays several impressive exhibits related to Ancient Egypt. Artifacts on display include statues, stone tablets, jewelry, amulets, mummies, textiles, sculptures, and sarcophagi.
OktoberfestMunich is known worldwide as the home of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest fair, which takes place for 16 days in late September and early October. Each year, millions of people attend this popular celebration of Bavarian culture that has been held since 1810. In addition to serving millions of liters of beer, the festivities feature traditional Bavarian music, amusement rides, carnival games, and a wide variety of traditional Bavarian foods, including sausages, potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and roast chicken.
Visitors to Oktoberfest can enjoy the festive ambiance of its 14 large tents that hold thousands of visitors and try beers from Munich's major breweries. Augustiner-Brau is the city's oldest independent brewery, which was founded in the 14th century. The five other major breweries are Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau, and Paulaner. If you want to have a true Oktoberfest experience, try to get a seat in one of the tents when they open at 10:00 a.m., since they fill quickly.
CuisineIt should come as no surprise that Munich offers a wide variety of cuisines due to its popularity with tourists and its large immigrant population. Italian restaurants are especially popular due to the city’s proximity to Italy, but if you’re interested in a traditional culinary experience in Munich, you’ll have to try Bavarian cuisine. Munich is home to dozens of German restaurants and cafés that offer traditional Bavarian dishes, which include all kinds of sausages, delicious soups, and pastry-based desserts.
As the center of German beer culture, Munich is also known for its beer halls and beer gardens, which provide a variety of lagers and wheat beers. If you’re feeling daring, order a Maß, a liter-sized mug of beer, at one of the beer gardens to enjoy with some fresh-baked pretzels. While the beer gardens are often busy, they’re also social atmospheres where people are quite friendly, so don’t be nervous to ask if you can grab a seat at a half-empty table. One of the city’s most famous beer halls is Hofbräuhaus, which is popular with tourists due to the live Bavarian band that regularly performs there.
AccommodationMunich provides a wide selection of accommodation for travellers. Most youth hostels, which cost between €10 ($12) and €20 ($23) per person per night, are located near the central train station. Hotels of all price ranges can be found throughout the city starting at approximately €50 ($58) per night, with higher prices in the summer. In addition, if you plan to visit during Oktoberfest, you’ll want to reserve your stay well in advance and be aware that accommodation prices increase significantly during that time of year, sometimes tripling or quadrupling.
ShoppingGiven its size, the shopping possibilities in Munich are nearly endless. One of the city’s most popular shopping areas is the Kaufingerstraße and Neuhauserstraße pedestrian area, which is one of the busiest shopping areas in the world. It features dozens of department stores, popular chains, small boutiques, and plenty of cafés and restaurants to rest in. However, if you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, you should visit Munich’s markets.
ViktualienmarktThe Viktualienmarkt is a popular food market and square located in the city center that contains over 100 different stalls that sell everything from flowers and fruit to cheese, baked goods, and traditional meats. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 until 20:00, though some stalls close early.
ElisabethmarktThe Elisabethmarkt is similar to the larger Viktualienmarkt, though it is generally cheaper and doesn’t attract as many tourists. It is located in the city’s Schwabing district.
Christmas MarketsMany German cities are famous for their annual Christmas markets, and Munich is no exception. The most popular Christmas market in the city is located in Marienplatz, and features stalls selling traditional crafts and delicious foods. If you’re feeling festive, try some Glühwein, a traditional German mulled wine.
TransportationIt is quite easy to get around Munich on foot or by cycling, but if you’re planning to cover longer distances, you may want to use public transportation. The city has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, trams, underground trains called U-Bahn, and suburban trains called S-Bahn. All four forms of transport are part of the MVV, and can be used with a single ticket.
Munich is well connected to the rest of Germany and Europe, so you should have no problem reaching the city. Munich Airport, its international airport, is the second-largest airport in Germany and provides flights to cities around the world. Munich Hauptbahnhof is the city’s main train station that provides high-speed services, though there are also two other train stations within Munich. The city can also be reached using a number of international bus companies.
SafetyMunich is a very safe city that is extremely welcoming to visitors from around the world. You shouldn’t have any problems as long as you use common sense and keep an eye on your belongings. In general, the greatest safety issue for visitors is Munich’s beer culture, though you can easily avoid unwanted injuries by being aware of your limits with alcohol.
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Author: ehuttner. Last updated: Apr 04, 2015