Despite all its sophistication, Munich retains a touch of provincialism that visitors find charming. In fact Muncheners even regard their ‘metropolis’ as little more than a Weltdorf, a world village. It's easy to see why, with lakes and the Alps on its doorstep and a fine roster of historic and cultural sites. During Oktoberfest representatives of the entire planet turn out to toast the town though when I was there it was predominantly Italians, a nation not renowned for its drinking prowess.
3 Oct 2009 - Munich (Oktoberfest), GermanyIn major cities Germany it's hard to know just how old the buildings are because of the wide spread destruction wrought in World War II. Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous and - by comparison to other war ravaged German cities - rather conservative plan which preserved its prewar street grid. This is probably the reason why Munich is so charming as the buildings still retain a medieval look and feel though they are probably just authentic recreations based upon old photographs, plans or drawings.
Authentic or not, the beer festival and the late summer sunshine makes Munich a fantastic place to visit in September/October.
Munich - Marienplatz
In the Middle Ages markets and tournaments were held in this city square. Marienplatz was named after the Mariensäule, a Marian column erected in its centre in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years' War and is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Today the Marienplatz is dominated by the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus); its facade, over 300 feet in length, features strikingly elaborate stone ornamentation. The Glockenspiel in the tower of the new city hall was inspired by these tournaments, and draws millions of tourists a year.
Munich - Karlstor, Karlsplatz
The Aldstadt is a region within the centre of Munich that defines the limits of the medieval defences. A line of boulevards now replaces the walls. Three of the old medieval gates still remain and this, the Karlstor, guards the western entrance to the city. This photo is taken from the Karsplatz looking into the old town along Neuhauser Str, a main pedestrianised shopping area.
Munich - Roof ships along the Neuhauser Str
These actually symbolise something but now I can't remember what it is! However, if you look up when walking down this street here is a close up of the ships. Very ornate too for something that will not be appreciated from ground level.
Munich - The Frauenkirche, the symbol of the Munich
Distinguised by the twin 98m towers, the Frauenkirche dates from 1468 - 1488. The building's famous domes atop each tower were not built until 1525. Their design was modelled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem which was believed to be King Solomon's Temple. The cathedral suffered severe damage during World War II - the roof collapsed and one of the towers suffered severe damage. A major restoration was started after the war and was completed in several stages, the last in 1994.
Munich - Inside the Frauenkirche, the Devil's footprint
In this legend, the devil bet the builder that he could not build a church without visible windows. The clever builder positioned the columns so that the windows were not visible from the spot where the devil stood in the foyer. When the devil discovered that he had lost he stamped his foot furiously, which left the dark footprint that remains visible in the church's entrance today.
Munich - Der Alte Hof
Northeast of the Rathause is a warren of narrow streets that conjures up the atmosphere of Medieval Munich, though much restored and rebuilt. The Alte Hof is a 13th century complex that was castle.
Munich - The Residenz
The enormous royal palace complex of Bavaria's ruling Wittelsbach dynasty who resided here until 1918, has its origins in a small 14th century castle of which nothing remains. What exists today is the result of several phases of construction and post 1945 construction after extensive damage in World War II. The oldest surviving part dates from 1550. Vistiors can enter the palace and wander around some of the spectacular rooms and halls.
Munich - The Feldherrnhalle in the Odeonplatz
The Feldhernhalle was built in 1844 to shelter statues of two celebrated Bavarian generals. This was central to Nazi inography as it was here that Hitler's 'Beer Hall Putsch' was stopped in its tracking ending with the deaths of sixteen supporters - later dubbed the 'Blood Witnesses' - and four policemen. For this treason, the future dictator receieved only a light prison sentence, using the term to pen Mein Kampf.
Munich - Shirkers' Alley, behind the Odeonplatz
So called because it was a short cut that could be used to avoid passing the SS honour guard - and having to give the compulsory Nazi salute to them - stationed day and night on the Feldherrnhalle on Odeonsplatz. A bronze trail set into the cobbles now recalls those who preferred to 'shirk' the SS.
Munich - A rather unfortunate accident at the Oktoberfest
An important fact about Oktoberfest; Munich's legendary festival finishes after the first Sunday in the month it is named after. To get into the biggest tents you need to reserve your tickets in advance but luckily no such reservations were needed in the Hofbrauhaus. What you do get near the beer tents though is the funfair and plenty of sausages, buns and pretzls to soak up the beer. Then again, the Hofbrauhaus supplied these in abundance as well. This chap in the photo caused quite a stink - literally.
Munich - The Hofbrauhaus am Platzl
Originally built in 1607 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I, was as an extension of the original Hofbräu brewery, but for Weissbier (wheat beer). The building was completely remodeled in 1897, when the brewery moved to the suburbs. In the bombing of WW II, everything but the ground floor ("Schwemme") was destroyed and it took until 1958 for it to be rebuilt. Judging by the photos taken from before its destruction, the reconstruction seems a faithful reproduction, at least externally.
Munich - The Hofbrauhaus am Platzl, interior
One dubious claim to fame is that on 24 February 1920, Adolf Hitler organized the first of many large publicity and propaganda events to be held at the Munich Hofbräuhaus. During this event he outlined a twenty-five point programme of ideas, which were to become the basis of the Nazi Party.
Fine beers are complemented with a menu of Bavarian dishes such as roast pork, knuckle of pork, and sausages such as Weisswurst. During regular hours, oompah bands and traditonal dancers perform.