München: Essentially German
The Grand, the gregarious and the elusive, München or simply Munich is a mega metropolis by all standards. The development of München was first as the capital of the Duchy, thereon it evolved as an electorate in the year 1623 and later in history, particularly in the year 1806 it transformed into a sovereign kingdom.
Herein, the cosmopolitan tendencies exist simultaneously with the various monumental architectural marvels and the binding force is the German tradition itself. A typical traveller’s usual day can begin at any of the myriad bars with pork knuckles or sausages and sauerkraut and culminate at one of the most exclusive gourmet temples.
München annually plays host to numerous festivals, the most famous of them being the Oktoberfest beginning from September and ending in October, along with the famous exhibitions and delicacies of the Christmas Market at the Marienplatz and the Münchner Stadtmuseum. There are so many things to see and places to visit and time just seems to fly by always.
It was an imperial residence of the Bavarian Duchy. The city was also played a crucial role during the Counter Reformation period and became the capital city of the country in 1506. It was the point of stronghold during the Thirty Years’ War and eventually it became the region’s economic superpower. At the time of the German Revolution, the Wittelsbach family were forcibly abdicated in Munich. The house of Wittelsbach had been ruling Bavaria since the year 1180. Furthermore, a socialist regime took charge of the region. However, this stint was rather short-lived.
Munich, more since the secularisation of Bavaria had been on the political forefront. These tendencies were heightened when certain factions such as the NSDAP were founded in the 1920’s. In this decade itself the Nazis made their first attempt to take over the German government but were stopped by the police in Munich. Munich was also declared by them to be the ‘capital of the movement’. Later on, during the Second World War the city was almost entirely destroyed and most of its sections were rebuilt again from scratch. It grew out of the magnanimity into a modern town which hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics. Munich is also home to some of the internally renowned enterprises such as – BMW, Siemens, MAN, Linde, Allianz, MunichRE among others.
After the World Wars, Munich grew exceptionally well into a city like no other. Moreover, the Central Bavarian Dialect is the official dialect of the city of Munich.
After Berlin and Hamburg, München is the largest and the most populous along with being the most popular city of the German state. Its history is intriguing as well as is violent in every respect. Today, over 1.5 million people reside within the city along with other hundreds and thousands who come to visit and experience modern day Bavaria here. Located on the banks of the river Isar and the Bavarian Alps bordering on the northern end, Munich modern day Munich is not only an important city of Germany but is also a major European centre of art, technology, finance, publishing, culture, business and tourism.
Munich, the alpha world city was first inhabited by the monks who came from the Tegernsee Monastery. They christened their locale as “ad Munichen” or as the Home of the Monks or By the Monks, depending on certain translations. These monks were of the Benedictine order who, consecrated and operated a monastery which in the course of history transformed as the Old Town of Munich. It is this very reason as to why the image of the monks is depicted on the court of arms of the city.
The first historical mention of the city dates back to the year 1158 in the context of the above mentioned Monks of Tegernsee Monastery who came to settle here. Next of the references comes about when the city performed the role of being the Bavarian Dukes seat of power. It is during this time that the official colours of the city – Black and Gold were authorised.
München the city
Munich is and has been multicultural since almost the beginning. Within its unique composition both the old, the new, the traditional and the modern exist together in a form of fluidised harmony. One can find bits of classical along with the popular bytes and beers, the typical German industriousness and leisureliness within its confines. The city is always open to who so ever decides to visit. It is often said that one life time is not enough to explore the capital of the Free State of Bavaria.
München has 25 Stadtbezirke or boroughs:
- Milbertshofen-Am Hart
- Berg am Laim
Munich’s climate has been classified to be of a temperate continental type. Typically the summer months are between June and September wherein the day temperature ranges between the comfortable bracket of 20 and 23 degrees Celsius and the maximum rises up to 35 degrees Celsius. The temperatures during summer time nights are range between 10 and 13 °C. On the other hand, during the colder months the highest temperature averages at 3 to 4 °C. Around this time the temperatures at night go well beyond zero. The region receives around 1000 mm worth of precipitation annually. Heavy downpours are only during the wetter summer months. If you are wondering about the ideal time, then between May and September Munich happens to be just perfect.
A traveller’s guide
Germany like most European countries is well connected to the continent and also from the outside world as well. There are umpteen options available in this regard. For instance –
Plane: If your choice of transportation is airplanes then Munich houses the second busiest airport in Germany – the Franz Josef Strauss International Airport (MUC) or simply the Munich airport. This airport is located at a distance of about 28 kilometres from the city and it also acts as a major hub for the Lufthansa airlines which connects the city with the entire world.
Now, for the purpose of travelling from the airport to the city, there are many options available such as –
- Railways: You can take the S 1 and the S 8 of the Munich Suburban Railway line and travel to and fro between the airport and the city. The total time consumed is just about 45 minutes and will cost just 10 Euros per individual. Moreover, there are travel plans available about which current details can be availed from the tourist office at the city centre.
- Bus: The buses may be slightly more convenient in the sense that they take about 40 minutes or less and a roundtrip ticket costs just 16 Euros. However, a one way ticket is same as that of the railways that is 10 Euros. You can take the Lufthansa City Airport Bus to reach the airport or the MW bus line which connects Freising, Erding and Markt Schwaben, the nearby cities with the airport.
- Car: Cars are the most preferred mode of transportation, at least by tourists. Furthermore, you can take the A 92 Motorway which further connects with the A 9 and A 99 which is Munich’s own motorway.
Additionally, there is also the Memmingen Airport (FMM) or the Munich West Airport. This is however much smaller than the Munich International Airport and typically, here low cost flights are available for commutation. Take the example of Ryanair, this company connects with – Alicante, Bremen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Faro, Girona, London Stansted Airport, Malaga, Oslo, Porto, Rome, Stockholm and Valencia. Seasonally flights are available to Alghero, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Reus and Trapani as well. Now, if you want to travel from or go to Kiev, Belgrade, Antalya, Heraklion, Belfast and Naples, there are affordable available in this respect.
Trains: The German railway network is the best in the world. Its Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the nationalised railway corporation which offers numerous trains from Munich connecting almost each and every corner of the German lands.
The city has two main stations – the München Hauptbahnhof or the Central Station and the München Ostbahnhof or the Munich East. The München Hauptbahnhof as the name suggests is the most important of the two as all the trains pass through this station and is the largest as well. Now, the München Ostbahnhof is much smaller but most of the trains for your requirement will pass through this point. In the context of the S-Bahn lines through which the outskirts of the city can be reached pass through both of these stations.
Also, if you wish to travel to certain remote locations then the following list will be useful. Almost all the routes either pass through or begin from the Central Station:
- TGV: Munich – Augsburg – Stuttgart – Karlsruhe – Strasbourg – Paris
- ICE -line 11: Berlin – Frankfurt – Munich – Innsbruck
- ICE line 25: Hamburg – Nuremberg – Munich – Garmisch-Partenkirchen
- ICE line 28: Munich – Augsburg – Nürnberg – Leipzig – Berlin
- ICE line 41: Munich – Ingolstadt – Nuremberg – Würzburg – Frankfurt
- ICE line 42: Munich – Stuttgart – Frankfurt – Cologne – Dortmund – Amsterdam
- ICE line 116: Munich – Salzburg – Linz – Vienna
- RJ 63: München Hbf – Salzburg Hbf – Linz Hbf – Wien Westbf – Budapest
- EC -line 88: Munich – Lindau (Bodensee) – Zurich
- EC line 89: Munich – Bolzano – Verona
Buses: In addition to the near perfect railway system is the Euroline network which connects all the important German cities with Munich. Furthermore, the Euroline also travels to Eastern Europe which is otherwise harder to reach. The new stops for the Euroline are centrally located in Munich at Hackerbrücke. You can easily reach here by taking any of the S-Bahn trains as all of them pass through Hackerbrücke. If you wish to travel through this mode then it is mandatory that you keep the ZOB building or the Zentrale Busbahnhof München in mind. This is because it the main building where all the bus bays is located. It is also visible from the S-Bahn station. You can also take the tram numbers 16 and 17 to reach the building. This is useful because of the facilities such as online reservations or specific Deutsche Touring reservations.
Furthermore, as far as travelling within the city is concerned then usually the public transport system suffices the cause. However, inconvenience is something that one has to bear all throughout and in any case if you desire a more personalised approach to travelling and exploration then the ideal thing to do would be to rent a car. But, do keep in mind that getting around will not be easy for someone who does not know the regional dialect.
Another alternative could be the numerous bike rental services that Munich offers. Bicycles are probably the greatest way of travelling within the city. The flat landscape of Munich is like an additional benefit. This feature has allowed dedicated paths for bicycles to be constructed. Also, Munich is quite large a city, keeping in mind its 25-kilometre diameter. Travelling from one end to the other on a bicycle can easily take up 2 to 3 hours of your time, but then again what is life without a little adventure. The tourist department of the city advises its tourists to take their bicycles within the S-Bahn trains which are, by all means, the best feature of the public transportation system in Germany.
As a traveller, you must try your best to obey the regional rules and regulations concerning traffic. The city is indeed bike friendly but that does not mean that you go out of bounds either in the S-Bahn or on the dedicated streets. Keep a constant and careful watch of the pedestrian traffic along with the general automobile traffic on the road.
Additional information on the roadways
Following is the list of the Federal Highways that you will have to keep in mind while travelling on the road in Germany:
- The 2 Line: This will take you to Berlin – Leipzig – Nürnberg – Augsburg – Munich – Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- The 2R Middle Ring: This can be used for travelling within Munich.
- The 11: The route is: Border / CZ – Landshut – München – Kochel am See.
- The 12 Lindau or Bodensee: Links with the Munich A94 and A96 with Passau – border / CZ.
- The 13:Links Würzburg – Ingolstadt – Munich – Bad Toelz
- The 304: It connects Dachau – Munich – Freilassing
Furthermore, following are the highways that either begin at Munich or lead to Munich:
- Number 8: Connects Karlsruhe – Stuttgart – Ulm – Augsburg – München – Rosenheim – Salzburg.
- Number 9: Connects Munich – Nuremberg – Leipzig – Berlin; on to Regensburg and Hof / Oberfranken.
- Number 92: Munich – Landshut – Deggendorf
- Number 94: Munich – Passau / Vienna
- Number 95: Munich – Garmisch-Partenkirchen
- Number 96: Munich – Memmingen – Lindau (Bodensee)
- Number 99: Munich beltway
- Number 995: Munich – Munich-South intersection and links with Number 8.
To begin the exploration
The 25 boroughs of Munich do not necessarily depict the sheer historicity and the cultural milieu that the region as a whole embodies. To get a good understanding of the city you can start first by visiting the following areas:
- Altstadt-Lehel: It is the Old City of Munich. The Altstadt is centrally located and is also popular as a shopping destination, particularly the pedestrian zone. The entire area around the Marienplatz is full of numerous sites and attractions.
- Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt: It is particularly famous for its nightlife. Herein you can find numerous cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs and theatres along with hotels and hostels. The Munich Central Station is also located here. Another famous feature of the region are the Oktoberfest grounds which of-course come to life during the festival. Culturally, the most important site of this borough is the Deutsches Museum. It is the biggest museum in the world dedicated to science and engineering. Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt also acts as the focal point of Munich’s gay culture.
- Maxvorstadt: Often categorised as the Brain of Munich, Maxvorstadt particularly has an environment which favours the students. You can find the globally renowned Pinakotheken galleries here along with many universities.
- Haidhausen: It is located around the East Munich Station. This region draws tens of thousands of people almost every weekend because of the contiguous party area – Kultfabrik & Optimolwerke
- Northern Munich: This region is full of parks and gardens and is, therefore, best for relaxation. The Schwabing area within this borough is interesting because of its 19th-century architecture along with the expanses of the English Garden. This was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics.
- East Munich: The region is largely residential along with being home to the Bavarian Film Studios. You can also find the trade fair ground and the famous Flaucher beaches along the eastern side of the river Isar.
- South-West Munich: You can find the Munich Zoo and the Flauncher river islands here.
There are four nature reserves within the city:
- Allacher Lohe,
- Panzerwiese and Hartelholz,
- Schwarzhölzl, and
- Southern Fröttmaninger Heide.
Along with these there are certain 20 landscapes which are protected:
- Langwieder Autobahnsee,
- Aubinger Lohe and Moosschwaige,
- Forest on the outskirts of Freiham,
- The Forest Rest on the camping Obermenzing,
- The Allacher Forst,
- Capuchin Hölzl,
- The River Isar,
- The Forest residue at Siemensallee,
- Woodland Trudering,
- Woodland Cemetery and Castle and Castle Park located in Fürstenried,
- Nymphenburg along with the canal and park remains in the northwest of Munich,
- The Forstenrieder Park and Forst Kasten,
- Perlacher and Grünwalder Forst.
Munich annually hosts the following events:
- Starkbierzeit: It is the Strong Beer Festival which takes place in the month of March.
- Maibaumaufstellen: It takes place on the1st of May and is a folk festival where in people dance in traditional costumes.
- The Oktoberfest: The most renowned annual German festival wherein people flock here in Munich from all over the world.
- The Jewish Culture Days: This festival takes place in the month of November in Munich.
- Christkindlmarkt or the Christmas Markets: These are the most exciting features of Christmas time in Germany. These markets usually open up by the end of November.
Places to visit in München
Following is a list of sites that must be visited in Munich:
- Mary’s Square: Located in the Marienplatz, Mary’s Square is the largest of its kind in the city. It gets its name from the golden statue of Mother Mary which is further centrally located in the square. The architecture and structure of the square is built in the Neo-Gothic style.
- Cathedral of Our Dear Lady: This 15th century cathedral is located in Frauenkirche. It is an architectural marvel and is a must visit site. The cathedral is open between 7 am and 7 pm usually. On Thursdays particularly the opening hours are longer as it closes at 8:30 pm and shorter on Saturdays when it closes at 6 pm.
- Peter’s Church: This is the oldest church in Munich. It was built in the 8th century and is located Peterskirche. It is believed that from the top of the tower you can get the most fantastical view of the city. The opening hours of the church are as follows:
- Church tower: During Summer: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday, and other holidays: 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- During Winters: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Saturday – Sunday, and other holidays: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Carillon at the New Town Hall or the Glockenspiel am Rathausturm: The images depicted here present a story and are in sync with the chimes of the bells. It is Munich’s trademark sight.
- The BMW Museum: Symbolic of German industriousness and modernity, the BMW Museum is a mecca for car lovers.
- Kaufinger Street or the Kaufingerstrasse: It is the busiest street in Munich and is best explored on foot. Here you can find a promenade along with numerous shops, cafés and restaurants.
- The Victual’s Market or the Viktualienmarkt: It is the world’s largest open air market. You can find everything and anything here and that a guarantee from the local shop owners. This market place also becomes a site for folklore festivals.
- Nymphenburg Palace or the Schloss Nymphenburg: This was the palace which was built by Ludwig II, the Fairy Tale King. It has served as the residence of numerous Bavarian rulers and is an impressive site.
- Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site or the KZ-Gedenkstätt: It is a site where the first concentration camp was established by the Nazis. Today there is a memorial in the memory of all those who were executed.
- The Old Town Hall or the Altes Rathaus: The Old Town Hall and its Gothic architecture are reminiscent of the medieval times. It was extensively damaged during the Second World War and today provides its visitors with a beautiful view of the entire Old Town area.
- German Museum or the Deutsches Museum: It is the largest museum in the world dedicated purely to the sciences.
- Beer & Oktoberfest Museum or the Bier-und Oktoberfestmuseum: Here you can find detailed historiography concentrating on German beer along with instances of the famous Oktoberfest.
History of München
Hemingway had famously said, “You do not even go somewhere else, I tell you there’s nothing like Munich. Everything else is a waste of time in Germany”. Since its first mention in a certain document that was signed in Augsburg in 1158, Munich has come a long way. It officially became a city in 1175 when it received the status along with numerous fortifications. During the trial of Henry the Lion in 1180, Otto the First of Wittelsbach became the Duke of Bavaria. During the same time Munich was handed over to the Bishop of Freising. Bavaria was ruled over by the Wittelsbach dynasty till the beginning of the 20th century.
A few years later, in 1255 the Bavarian Duchy was split into two and thus Munich came under the Upper Bavarian control. By the latter parts of the 15th century, the architecture of Munich was immersed into the Gothic tradition. This resulted in the expansion of the Old Town Hall and the grand Gothic Churches, such as the Frauenkirche Cathedral.
When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich was chosen to be its capital city. It is from hereon that the political and economic influence of Munich enlarged. Munich also performed the role of being a crucial centre during the Counter Reformation period and was also locale where the Catholic League was founded in 1609. The city was granted the status of an electoral residence during the Thirty Years War and was also once occupied by the Swedish King, King Gustav II Adolph in 1632.
The Baroque life reached its heights in Munich by the 1800s. In the year 1806 when the Kingdom of Bavaria was established, the Parliament along with the Archdiocese of both Munich and Freising were located in the city of Munich itself. Most of the well-known buildings of the city were constructed during the reign of the first three Bavarian Kings. Artistic fervour and architectural endeavours were pushed forward all through these years. Among these Bavarian Kings, the most famous was the Fairy Tale King that is, King Ludwig II. Particularly at the time of his rule, the two of the most extravagant palaces and castles were constructed.
In the post-World War 1 era, Munich went through an entire culture of political turmoil. This movement resulted in the expulsion of the royal family in November 1918. Immediately after the dismantling of the monarchy a socialist regime took charge but it was also unsuccessful. In its place came a republican government which further resulted in the increase of extremist political behaviour. It is exactly from this mutating conflict that the Nationalist Socialist Party and Adolf Hitler, both rose to power. Hitler along with his supporters was concentrated in Munich and it is here that they launched the Beer Hall Putsch. This was an effort to seize power and coup the Weimer Republic. However, they met with a strong opposition resulting in Hitler’s arrest and dismantling of the revolution. The Nazi Party which at that point in time was virtually unknown was also temporarily crippled and went back underground.
Nearly a decade later in 1933 the Nationalist Socialists came back to power and eventually Munich became a Nazi stronghold. At a distance of 16 kilometres or 10 miles outside the city at a place called Dachau the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Group (NSDAP) created the first of the concentration camps. In the due course of time, Munich became the ‘Capital of the Movement’ or as it was tagged in German – Hauptstadt der Bewegung.
Between June 1942 and February 1943 Munich also acted as a central point from whereon the White Rose or the student’s resistance movement operated. When Hans and Sophie Scholl along with other core members of the movement were executed the movement disintegrated.
After the city was nearly razed to the ground during the Allied air bombings the region came under US occupation. Munich had to be rebuilt entirely in the post-War endeavours. Munich grew and prospered at an exponential rate and participated as a host of the 1972 Summer Olympics. At the time of the Olympics certain Palestinian terrorists brutally murdered Israeli athletes in an event which came to be known as the Munich massacre.
Munich somehow managed to recover from that scar. It developed as one of the best places to live on the planet. Furthermore, Mercer HR Consulting based on their rigorous standards in the context of quality of life has been ranking Munich among the top 10 cities to live in. The thriving economy of the city is based on the boom in sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, and publishing. The city due to the high standards of living and safety measures that its administration has undertaken, it is often called as – Toytown among the Anglophone nations.
Geography of the region
The city is situated in the Upper Bavarian region on an elevated plain which is 50 kilometres or 31.07 miles in the north of the Alps. It is located at an altitude of 520 metres or 1,706.04 feet above sea level. Munich essentially developed around the rivers Isar and Wurm. These rivers are also responsible for the flourishing Alpine Forelands and the extensive waterways. In the north of the sandy plateau is the extremely fertile flint region which is devoid of floods. On the southern side the region morainic hills form a boundary structure and in between the sandy plateau and the hills are the fields of fluvio-glacial out-wash.
Munich is by all standards a multicultural and a multi-ethnic city. Approximately 1.5 million people reside in the city at any given day and have a lot of immigrants from Turkish and Balkan descent. The other major communities who call Munich as their homes are – Albanians, Croats, Serbs, Greeks, Austrians, and Italians. Furthermore, nearly 37% of the foreign nationals who come to the city hail from the European Union.
Munich falls in the Central European Time (CET) – UTC/GMT +1 hour. The daylight saving time is between the months of March and October.
Following are the contact numbers of various tourist information centres in case you require any assistance:
- Tourist Office: +49 89 233 96 500
- Munich Airport: +49 89 975 00
- Allgäu Airport: +49 83 31 984 200