In 1999, as we drove through Southern Germany on our honeymoon, we stopped for three days in München (or in english - Munich). We had been in Heidelberg for three days. On our way to München, we stopped in Nuremberg for the afternoon. Unfortunately it rained that day. We then had to drive down the E45 Autobahn in heavy rain to München. We were there from July 23 to 26. The days we spent in München were beautiful with sunny skies. I had visited here back in 1989 with my friend Kevin, but this was Debbie's first trip here. Although München is a bustling international city, it is affectionately regarded by many Münchners (that's what they're called) as the largest village in Germany. These "Münchners" do not look like what you typically might think. One gets the image of men in leather pants (called Lederhosen) and feathered hats (called a Trachen Hut) drinking large steins of beer, singing beer-drinking songs while holding generously proportioned blond Fräuleins. Though you might still see these types in your local beerhall, they are the exception, not the rule.
München is the capital of the Free State of Bavaria (Seal of Bavaria at right). München is also the best loved of all German cities and sees more than three million visitors a year (I am also told that it is very expensive to live here). It's a popular city because of the relaxed atmosphere. Many inhabitants enjoy sitting in the city's numerous beer gardens enjoying their favorite beverage (which you can probably guess). Of course, Oktoberfest draws thousands of visitors from around the world every fall. As you can imagine, it's a beer lovers paradise. Somehow, Beer-hating Debbie survived her stay here. However, there is more to München than just beer. We spent three days here enjoying the cultural and historical sights. Of course, I did manage to have a few beers myself.
München has a history in the movie industry. A number of movies have been filmed here. Among them, The Great Escape was filmed in a pine forest outside of München while Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was filmed almost entirely in München. Das Boot and The Neverending Story were filmed in the Bavaria Studios in München (nicknamed "Hollywood on the Isar"). You can take a 90-minute tour of the studios, though we didn't. They have a realistic reconstruction of the U-boat from Das Boot which you can go in.
Debbie and I stayed in the Hotel Torbräu in the Old Town section of the city. Built in 1490, the Torbräu (at right) is considered to be the oldest hotel in Munich. It's at Tal 41 near the "Isartor" and only two blocks from the München. The rooms were modern and comfortable. However, we did have a large old-style wooden bed. We had breakfast every morning on the balcony with the flags. When we were there, they didn't have air-conditioning, but have since added them. Debbie wasn't very happy with the guy at the front desk. She wanted to check in while I parked the car. The man would not allow this saying, "only the husband can check in." I can't write here what Debbie thought of this policy.
München, being an old medieval city was once surrounded by a wall. There were five fortified gates to enter the city. As the city expanded, the wall was mostly torn down in the 19th century. Three of these gates are all that remains of these walls. One of three, the Isartor (Isar Gate) can be found at the end of what is called the 'Tal' (valley). The street in which are hotel is on, Im Tal, is called as such because in the past the road from the Alten Rathaus, next to the Marienplatz, towards the Isartor went downhill. The gate tower was built in 1337 and was the main thoroughfare towards the Isar, the main river flowing through München. The facade of the Isartor is ornamented with a painting depicting the Battle fought by Ludwig the Bavarian (future Emperor Ludwig I) in 1322 at Ampfing.
A Short History of München
München or Munich started out as a 9th century town built on the banks of the Isar River near a Benedictine abbey. The monks, or in German "Mönch", gave it's name to the town. In Old High German it is "Muniche." So the town has taken as it's emblem a little monk or "Münchner Kindl" (shown at left).
In 1156, Emperor Frederick Barbarosa of the Holy Roman Empire (1125- 90) gave a part of Bavaria to Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion), the Duke of Saxony (1129-95.) To make money, Duke Henry had trade routes moved to München and thus started the town to becoming an important city. On June 14, 1158 the emperor officially granted the settlement of München the right to hold a market, thus making it a true city.
In 1180, the Duke was kicked out of Bavaria (he had run afoul of the emperor) and was replaced by the Palatine Count Otto von Wittelsbach. This started the rise of the Wittelsbach dynasty which would rule Bavaria until 1918. In 1225, the dukes moved their government to München and made it also their main residence. In 1314, one of the dukes, Ludwig der Bayer (the Bavarian) became King of Germany and then (1328) the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. At this time, München rivaled Augsburg and Nuremberg as trade centers. During the rule of Albrecht IV "the Wise" the city enjoys a high point of Gothic culture. Their idea was to make München the second Paris, including: museums, libraries, universities and parks.
In 1623, Duke Maximilian I, during the Thirty Years' War, made München the bastion of Catholicism. During the war, in 1632, München is occupied by Protestant Swedish troops commanded by Gustavus Adolplhus. Two years later, the plague would kill 7,000 residents (a third of it's population). In 1705, during the War of Spanish Succession, the city is occupied by Austrian troops who remain until 1714. During that time, the Austrians brutally put down a peasant uprising. During the French Revolution in 1800, French troops occupy München.
Bavaria and München would reach it's height during the enlightened rulers of the 19th century. Max Joseph (1799-1825) helped to defeat Napoleon and became King Maximilian I of Bavaria. In 1810, the city started the tradition of Oktoberfest. München continued to grow as the capital of Bavaria. Maximilian's son, King Ludwig I (1825-1848) created many beautiful buildings in an attempt to make München the most beautiful capital in Europe. It becomes known as "Athens on the Isar" as the population of the city reaches 100,000. A scandal forced Ludwig to abdicate in favor of his son, Maximilian II (1848-1864) who continued the many building projects of his father.
After his death in 1864, his son became King Ludwig II, the most popular figure in Bavaria then and today. Ludwig II (at right), or as he later became known as, "Mad King Ludwig", undertook to build a number of castles around Bavaria, the most famous being Neuschwanstein. Ludwig II made the disastrous political mistake of making an alliance with Austria against the Prussians. After this, he went into a self-ordained exile in his castles in southern Bavaria. The state of Bavaria became absorbed into the new German Empire under Prussia's Wilhelm I. Ludwig II was arrested in 1886 and mysteriously drowned three days later. His son, became Ludwig III and ruled Bavaria until his forced abdication at the end of World War I.
In 1918, at the end of World War I, the November Revolution begins the Free State of Bavaria. After this the city was the scene of considerable political unrest. In 1919, Kurt Eisner, the social democratic Bavarian president was assassinated. National Socialism (Nazism) was founded there, and on November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler (at left) failed in his attempted München “beer-hall putsch” which was a coup aimed at overthrowing the Bavarian government. Despite this fiasco, Hitler made München the headquarters of the Nazi party, which in 1933 took control of the German national government. Michael Cardinal Faulhaber, the archbishop of München, was one of the few outspoken critics of the National Socialist regime.
The first Concentration Camp, Dachau, was opened just north of München. On the night of November 9, 1938 called Kristallnacht saw the destruction of numerous synagogues throughout Germany. This would be the beginning of Hitler's persecution of the Jews. Only 200 of München's 10,000 Jewish inhabitants survived the horrors of the Final Solution. In September of 1938, the Munich Pact was signed in the city. In 1943, during the war, a small resistance group of college students, called the "White Rose" secretly advocates the end of National Socialism. They are discovered and many of their young leaders are executed by the Gestapo. Because it was the headquarters of the Nazi Party, the city received special attention by the Allied air forces. München was badly damaged, over 50% of the buildings were destroyed and 250,000 citizens were killed, by numerous aerial bombardments during World War II, but after 1945 it was extensively rebuilt and many modern buildings, like the BMW (Bayerische Motorer-Werke or Bavarian Motor Works) headquarters, were constructed. In 1957, the city's population reached one million people.
In 1972, München was chosen for the XXth Olympiad Games. What was supposed to be a triumphal sign of the rebirth of the city turned tragic as Arab terrorists seized a number of Israeli athletes, killing two. During an attempt to free the others by the German police, nine more Israeli athletes were killed by the terrorists.
Today, München is the third largest city in Germany, behind Berlin and Hamburg. It is a major tourist center, especially during Oktoberfest when it attracts thousands of visitors.
MarienplatzAfter settling in to our room, we set out to explore München. We headed up the Tal to the Marienplatz which is the center of München (photo at top of the website). This square, previously called Schrannenplatz, has been the heart of the city since München was founded by Henry the Lion in 1158. It was a salt and corn market, tournament arena and a place of execution. A fish market was held near the Fischbrunnen (fish fountain) which is on the east side of the square. In the middle of the square is the Mariensäule (Mary's column), a marble column erected by the Prince-Elector Maximilian I in 1638 after Munich and Landshut were saved from pillaging by the Swedish during the Thirty Years' War. At the top of the column is a gold statue to the Virgin Mary (at left), the city's patron. On the pedestal of the statue, there are four winged children that represent innocent hostages of plague, war, famine and heresy. The Mariensäule is considered the center of the city and is therefore not just a favorite meeting place - all distances in München are measured from here. They were doing restoration on the statue while we were there. So, in the photo at the top of the website, it is enclosed in scaffolding and white canvas. Luckily, on the last day before we left München, they unwrapped it and I was able to get this picture.
Bordering the north-side of the square is the neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (new city hall). This building is incredible (photo at top of website). They started construction in 1867 and wasn't finished until 1908, 41 years later. They had to tear down 24 historic buildings to build it. The facade of the building is phenomenal. The picture at right is of the tower on the left side of the building. There are statues that represent many of Bavaria's history and legends. There are images of local saints and many allegorical figures. There is even a bronze statue of a dragon on the side of the building. At the top of the center tower, there is a bronze statue of the Münchner kindl (small monk), the symbol of München. The clock in the tower is the fourth-largest chiming clock in Europe.
In the left-center of the front facade, about halfway up the main tower, is the Glockenspiel (carillon with 43 bells - glocken means bells and spiel means play) which you can see behind us in the photo at right. There is a musical show with brightly colored mechanical figures that move and spin on two levels (those are the balconies with the flowers above us). They depict two episodes from München's history. The first is Schläfflertanz (dance of the coopers - barrel makers) which commemorates the end of the plague in 1517. Since they need barrels to store the beer, barrel makers are very important in München. The other show depicts a Medieval jousting tournament that was held in the Marienplatz in 1558 along with the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata von Lothringen. The show goes off twice a day (11am and 5pm). At night, the figure of a night-watchman comes out to blow on his horn and then the Angel of Peace comes out to bless the Münchner Kindl.
The interior of the building is just as magnificent as the facade. The stained glass window depicting the "Patrona Bavariae" (Mary as patron of Munich), the Law Library and the "Kleine Sitzungßaal" (small council chamber) are well worth visiting. There are six inner courtyards. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower (which I did in 1989) which is 278 ft. high and get some great views of the city.
Here I am (right) sitting by the Fischbrunnen (fish fountain) in the Marienplatz in front of the Neues Rathaus. This fountain, which I talk more about below, was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid and rebuilt after the war. You can barely make out the fish statue on top of it.
At the eastern end of the Marienplatz (the side we entered from) is the Altes Rathaus (old city hall) built in 1474 replacing the original one built in 1310. This building has stepped gables and bell turrets (as you can see in my photo of the top of the tower). The tower was built from one of the old city gates. This was once the eastern boundary of the city when the original 1175 wall went around it. The city expanded further east and a new wall was built in 1330. Most of the Altes Rathaus was destroyed during the World War II and has since been rebuilt. However, the Rathaus tower wasn't finished until 1975. Inside they have a toy museum. There are three arched walkways at the base of the building.
There are many churches in München, with most of them being Roman Catholic. We walked east from the Marienplatz to the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), which has become the symbol of München. The foundation stone was laid by Duke Sigismund in 1468. This 500-year old church took 20 years to build and was completed in 1488. It will never be confused with many of the beautiful cathedrals of Europe. This Late Gothic style church is done in plain dark red bricks and has a bright red roof. The sides of the church are very plain with just old tombstones built into the walls. There are two 328 feet tall towers topped with onion domes which make the church unique. The domes have become a symbol of München partly because they survived the intense allied bombings during World War II and partly because they remind them of two overflowing beer steins. There is an elevator to the top of the south tower but you have to climb 86 stairs just to get to the elevator.
After the World War II Allied bombings, only the shell of the cathedral remained. Workmen and architects combed the rubble and salvaged every scrap that they could. The Gothic cathedral has been beautifully restored. Inside, there is a high vaulted ceiling supported by large pillars. There is a large exceptionally extravagant mausoleum for Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig I (1287-1347), a.k.a. Ludwig the Bavarian or King Ludwig IV, in the south aisle that was constructed well after he died (1622). This has to be seen to be believed. He was the first Bavarian king to be crowned emperor. Ludwig isn't actually in this monument, but is downstairs in the crypt. One of the most interesting things inside the church is the memorial grave in black marble of Prince Elector Kurfürst Maximilian I. At the far end of the choir, there is a staircase that leads down into the Bischofs-und-Fürstengruft (Bishops' and Princes' Crypt). There are tombs to various bishops of München and 46 Wittelsbach princes here including Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria who was deposed in 1918 and died three years later.
There is also the 'footprint of the devil' or Taufelstritt. According to the legend, the architect of the Frauenkirche, Jörg von Halsbach, promised the devil you could not see a window from the inside of the church. In return, the devil would help him build the Frauenkirche. The Devil, of course, thought that meant that the church would have no windows. After he completed the building, the devil saw the church from the outside with it's many windows. He figured that he had won the soul of the architect. However, the architect led the devil to the middle of the church from where you could not see a single window, although all churchgoers would sit in areas where a lot of light came through the many stained-glass windows. The devil was so angry that he had been tricked that he stamped his foot with so much rage that his black hoofed footprint is visible in the stone floor to this day. After post World War II rebuilding, the spot is no longer hidden from windows but the footprint is still visible. In 1993, the church celebrated it's 500th anniversary.
West of the Marienplatz, on the Fußgängerzone (Neuhauser Straße), is Michaelskirche (St. Michael's Church). It is wedged between other buildings, so you may not notice that it is a church at first. This is one of the more famous Renaissance churches in Germany. This Jesuit church was completed in 1597. There is an interesting answer as to why the church does not have a tower. When the first tower was destroyed while being built, Duke Wilhelm V took it as a bad omen and built a much larger church, but without a tower. There are statues to the Bavarian kings who were were very good Catholics. There is a statue between the main doors of "St. Michael slaying the Dragon." It has a single nave covered by a hugh cradle-vaulted ceiling supported on massive columns abutting the walls. It has second largest free-standing vault in the world.
There is a large monument in the north transept that contains the tomb of Napoleon's stepson by his marriage to Josephine and French general, Eugene de Beauharnais (his father, also a general, had fought in the American Revolution but was later guillotined during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror), who married one of the daughters of Emperor Maximilian I (Princess Augusta Amelia) and who lived in München after the downfall of Napoleon. He died in there in 1824. Below the church, there is a large crypt that contains around 30 to 40 Wittelsbach princes and kings, including Duke Wilhelm V and the most famous of the them all, "Mad" King Ludwig II. His tomb is also quite extravagant though not as much as Emperor Ludwig's in the Frauenkirche.
Further west of Michaelskirche on the Fußgängerzone (Neuhauser Straße), near the Karlstor, is the Bürgersaal. Built in 1778 as an oratory for theology students. It is a two-story church. The upper church as dazzling Rococo stucco work. During World War II, some of the interior was damaged by fire and some of the decorations had to be restored. The lower church has the tomb of Father Rupert Mayer. When the Third Reich began in 1933, Father Mayer, a Jesuit priest, openly condemned the Nazi leaders in his weekly sermons at St. Michael's church and in other gatherings. In the late 1930's he was arrested by the Nazi's and imprisoned. There was reluctance to kill him as it was feared he would be martyred and gain even more followers in death than he had in life. By August of 1940, it was clear to the Nazis that Father Mayer's stay at the Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp had affected his health considerably. Rather than let him die a martyr, they decided to confine him to a monastery in the Bavarian Alps. He was isolated there until he was freed in 1945 at the end of the war. Father Mayer died of a stroke soon after. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Across the Marienplatz is Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) which is shown at right here. The church is also known locally as Alter Peter (Old Peter). This is the oldest church in München and is on the highest ground. Before the city of Munich was founded there was already a small chapel on the "Petersbergl" (Peter's hill) replaced at the beginning of the 11th century by the romantic style Peterskirche (Peters church). The basilica formed part of the monastery which the city received it's name. In 1294, a new gothic church was built, which was constantly rebuilt and changed in style over the years. It once had two towers which were combined into one. The church was so badly damaged from bombings during World War II that the repair work lasted until 1975. The Renaissance tower "Alter Peter" is, along with the Frauentürmen (Ladies Towers), a Munich landmark. After paying DM 2,50 you can climb 302 wooden steps to reach the viewing platform and enjoy a wonderful view over Munich (it's open from 9 to 6). On the way up, you can see the seven bells. The tower also has eight clocks. I made this accent during my first trip to München in 1989 but Debbie and I choose to stay at street level this time. There are many art treasures from various eras such as the gothic altar, the baroque baptismal font and the rococo side altars. This picture was taken from behind the church on Sparkassen Straße next to the Viktualienmarkt
Right nearby at the intersection of Sparkassen Straße and Im Tal is the Heilig-Geist-Kirche (Church of the Holy Spirit - Geist is German for ghost) which is shown at left here. It is open in the morning and late afternoon. This 14th Century Gothic church is one of München's oldest and most ornate. The site once had a chapel, a hospital and a pilgrims' hostel. In 1724, the church was completely redone in a florid rococo style. In 1729, the tower was added. The facade is Neo-Gothic and was re-done in 1888. It has an incredibly ornate interior which combine Gothic and late Baroque styles. The painted vaulted-ceiling depict scenes from the hospitals history. The high altar was made in 1728. Destroyed during Allied bombings, the church was re-built after the war. Some of the original parts of the altar survived. There are some bronze figures in the entrance of the church that originally formed part of the tomb of Ferdinand of Bavaria.
On the left we have a picture of the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall) on the left and further in the background on the right is the tower of the Heilig-Geist-Kirche.
North of the Marienplatz is the Odeonplatz. On the west side of the Odeonplatz, on Theatinerstraße, is the Theatinerkirche (photo below right). This is a basilica in the style of the high Baroque and is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in München. The church was a gift to the people of München by Elector Ferdinand and his wife in thanks for the birth of their long-awaited heir, Max Emanuel, in 1662. When you see the church you figure that they must have waited a long time for this kid to be born.
The church is dedicated to St. Cajetan and is run by the Theatine Order of monks (thus the name). Construction began in 1663 and took six years. It is based on Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome (which we visited in 2003). The dome and towers were added later and then finally in 1770, the facade. There are marble statues to four saints in the niches in the facade (including one to St. Cajetan himself). I had no idea who this saint was until I did some research. He was a Venetian noble (from Venice) who lived from 1480 to 1547. He was the founder of the monastic order that runs the church. The name "Theate" is from a Latin nickname for St. Cajetan's friend and the first superior of the order, the future Pope Paul IV (Paul IV was responsible for confining Jews to ghettoes in Rome and other cities and is buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva church in Rome where we visited in 2003). This yellow color is somewhat common throughout München.
The interior of the Theatinerkirche has barrel vaulting and high dome. It is painted white with lavish decorations done in stucco. There is an immense high alter with more salutes of saints on it. Beneath the high alter, down in the crypt is the massive stone sarcophagus of King Max and his wife Marie of Prussia (the parents of "Mad" King Ludwig II - who is buried over in St. Michael's) along with bronze coffins containing some other members of the Wittelsbach family. You have to pay a small fee to enter. Among the other coffins is Emperor Charles VII (a Bavarian elector who fought against Maria Theresia of Habsburg in the War of the Austrian Succession and lost), Prince-regent Luitpol (he deposed "Mad" King Ludwig II in 1886 and ruled as regent for Ludwig II's brother, the insane king Otto), King Otto of Greece (Max's brother and Ludwig II's uncle who became king of Greece in 1832 and was overthrown by the Greek army in 1862) and the more recent member of the Wittelsbachs, Ludwig III's son, Rupprecht (Rupert) who died in 1955.
There are two major palaces you can see. One, the Residenz is in the Old City and the other, Nymphenburg, is built in the suburbs, two miles east of the city center.
The Residenz (residence) was the successor of the Alte Hof as a residential site of the ruling family Wittelsbacher up until 1918. Construction began back in 1385. They kept adding to it through the centuries. There are numerous courtyards and fountains inside. Today, it is an enormous complex of buildings constructed around seven courtyards. The have a few lion statues outside the entrances (left). The Residenz was very famous for its beauty in the 17th century. King Karl Gustav of Sweden wanted to transport the whole building by Swedish troops on rollers to his home in Stockholm. In World War II, the Residenz was almost completely destroyed by aerial bombings. After hard work of restoration it is now a museum. One section of the Palace not to be missed is the Treasury. Here you can see the Wittelsbach treasures, including the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. Mad King Ludwig II had his royal apartment here. Unfortunately, the rooms here are recreations. The original rooms were completely destroyed during the World War II bombings. These rooms were located in the north-west corner of the Palace, which was the part where the allied bombs fell heaviest. Ludwig II had a corridor redecorated with scenes from Wagner's 'Ring'. A few of these paintings survive, but, once again, most were destroyed in the war.
The other large palace is Schloß Nymphenburg (Nymphs' Castle). After the birth of Maximilian Emanuel, the heir to the throne, his father, Duke Ferdinand Maria, had this suburban palace built for his wife (in addition to the Theatinerkirche). The queen named it and even supervised the building (I guess she didn't trust the contractors - can you blame her?). All around the palace are landscaped gardens, ponds with swans, smaller buildings and a number of enchanting garden pavilions. It became the royal summer palace for the Wittelsbachs. Their is a museum here that has among other things, royal coaches, carriages and sleighs. Ludwig II's coronation coach is also here. Ludwig II was born here in the palace back in the early hours of August 25th, 1845. The room in which he was born has been restored to it's appearance in that year. We didn't tour the palace. I guess we were palaced out.
The Wittelsbach Dynasty
The Wittelsbach family (royal crest at left) was founded by Luitpold, the cousin of Carolingian king Arnulf, who died in 907. He was the ancestor of Otto II, Count of Dachau who purchased the castle of Wittelsbach, which once stood on the Paar River in Bavaria (it was destroyed in 1208). They took their name from the castle.
In 1180, after Emperor Frederick Barbarosa kicked out Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion) he replaced him with Count Otto von Wittelsbach. This started the Wittelsbach dynasty which would rule Bavaria until 1918.
Otto died three years later and was followed by his son, Ludwig I (Ludwig is German for Louis) who moved the government to München and made it also the main residence of the Wittelsbachs. Unfortunately for Ludwig, he was stabbed to death by an unknown assassin in 1231. After the death of Ludwig's son, Duke Otto II in 1253, Bavaria was divided among Otto II's two sons.
After the Duke of Lower Bavaria died childless in 1340, Duke Ludwig III of Upper Bavaria united the two Bavaria's. Ludwig III or "Ludwig der Bayer" (the Bavarian) became King of Germany and then in 1328 he became Ludwig IV the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (He was the 3rd Duke but the 4th emperor to be called Ludwig - confused yet? - however, he was the first Wittelsbach to become an emperor).
The Holy Roman Empire (in German - Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a political conglomeration of lands in western and central Europe during the Middle Ages. At the time you had to be elected king before you could be elected emperor. German kings were always elected. In the time of Charlemagne, they were chosen by the leaders of the Germanic tribes (there were five of them). Later, certain dukes would elect the kings and emperors. In 1356, this was made official with seven specific people called "Electors" (how creative), four were rulers and three were archbishops. Otto the Great became the first Holy Roman Emperor in 962. His successor was his son (who was also elected) and this practice continued until 1024 when Emperor Heinrich II (St. Henry) died childless. After this, son's were not elected and the complicated system of elections started.
While he was still a duke, Ludwig was having trouble with Pope John XXII, who had excommunicated Ludwig in 1324. Ludwig went to Rome in 1328 to have himself crowned emperor (it was a tradition) and while he was there had a new pope elected, Nicholas V (later referred to as an Antipope). Nicholas was forced to abdicate two years later.
After the death of Ludwig's grandson Stephen in 1375, Bavaria was divided again, this time among Stephen's three sons; one ruled Ingolstadt, one ruled Landshut and one ruled München (all are cities). This lasted for 128 years.
Duke Albrecht IV "the Wise" united the three parts in 1503 (Albrecht is German for Albert). He ended the influence of the Italian Renaissance. Albrecht's decedents continued to rule Bavaria. Albrecht V (1550-79) built a library and created the first art collection in Germany. In 1597, his son, Duke Wilhelm V (Wilhelm is William in German) brought Bavaria to bankruptcy and then abdicated in favor of his son Maximilian. Duke Maximilian I "the Great", a Catholic, made München the bastion of Catholicism. He started to persecute Protestants which led to the Thirty Years' War in 1618 which devastated Germany. The following year, Maximilian was asked to become emperor, but he declined. However, in 1623, Maximilian would become an "Elector." Maximilian ruled Bavaria throughout the war, even when Swedish troops occupied München in 1632. His son, Ferdinand Maria, succeeded him upon his death in 1651.
Ferdinand Maria's son, Maximilian II Emanuel, became duke and Elector in 1679 at the age of 17. Two years later, the plague would devastate Bavaria (killing a third of it's population). In 1705, during the War of Spanish Succession, the city was occupied by Austrian troops who remain until 1714. During that time, the Austrians brutally put down a peasant uprising. During the French Revolution in 1800, French troops occupy München.
In 1742, Elector Karl Albrecht (Charles Albert) of Bavaria was chosen as Holy Roman emperor and became Karl VII. Shortly after his election, Bavaria, which was involved in the War of Austrian Succession, was again overrun by Austrian troops. His son, Maximilian III Joseph was more of a composer and did not have any political ambitions. With his death in 1777, the Bavarian branch of the Wittelsbachs died out, and the Palatinate-Sulzbach line acceded in Bavaria in the person of the not very popular Duke Karl Theodor, who did little for Bavaria, and who died in 1799 without a son. He was succeeded by Duke Maximilian I Joseph, who was duke palatine of Zweibrücken, senior member of the Palatinate branch, at a very young age. He united all Wittelsbach lands under his sole rule and who in 1806 became the first king of Bavaria.
Bavaria and München would reach it's height during the enlightened kings of the 19th century. Max Joseph (1799-1825) helped to defeat Napoleon and as his reward, Bavaria went from being a duchy (ruled by a duke) to a kingdom (ruled by - you guessed it - a king). Max Joseph became King Maximilian I of Bavaria (Bavaria's first king). Maximilian's son, King Ludwig I (portrait at right - he does dress the part) became king in 1825 at the death of his father. Ludwig was a lover of arts, antiques and women. In 1848, a scandal forced Ludwig I to abdicate in favor of his son, Maximilian II. What was the scandal? Ludwig took Lola Montes, an Irish-born singer and dancer, as his mistress. The shocked Bavarians revolted and Ludwig I saw he had to step down (Lola fled to the United States where she continued her career, dying in New York City at the age of 40).
Maximilian II was a good ruler, but not a healthy one. He died at the age of 52. After his death in 1864, his son became King Ludwig II, the most popular figure in Bavaria then and today. Ludwig II, or as he later became known as, "Mad King Ludwig", undertook to build a number of castles around Bavaria, the most famous being Neuschwanstein and Linderhof (I have pictures of these two castles in my Oberammergau page). Ludwig II made the disastrous political mistake of making an alliance with Austria against the Prussians. After this, he went into a self-ordained exile in his castles in southern Bavaria. The state of Bavaria became bankrupt because of Ludwig's castle building. Ludwig II was declared insane by the government when he said he wanted to build more castles and arrested in 1886. He mysteriously drowned three days later in a lake near one of his castles (he drowned in three feet of water and he was a good swimmer - hmmmmm).
Ludwig II's younger brother Otto was also insane and was soon replaced. Ludwig and Otto's uncle Luitpold (he was the son of Ludwig I and Maximilian's younger brother) became regent (he wasn't actually king but ruled like one). He was popular and anti-Prussian (which is probably why he was so popular). After his death in 1912, his son became Ludwig III and ruled Bavaria until his forced abdication toward the end of World War I. He was pro-Prussian and not so popular. As post-war revolution swept Bavaria in 1919, Ludwig III and his wife fled to Hungary, where he died in 1921. After 783 years in power, the rule of the Wittelsbach family in Bavaria was at an end.
The Wittelsbach, though not in power, continue to live in Bavaria today. They claim to never have given up their right to rule Bavaria. In 1996, after the death of his father Albrecht (Albert), Duke Franz (Francis), who is the great-grandson of Ludwig III, took over as the head of the Wittelsbach royal family and heir to the throne of Bavaria. Franz was born in 1933 and was at the age of 11, along with his family, imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps during the last year of World War II. He was freed from Dachau in 1945 by the U.S. Army.
Strangely enough, Duke Franz (photo at left) is also considered by the Catholic Jacobites as King Francis II of Great Britain. He is descended from King Charles II, whose younger brother King James II of England (who New York is named after) was kicked off the throne in 1688 for being Catholic (the English didn't like Catholics back then - in fact, the law today says that you can't be King and Catholic - though some are trying to change it). The Catholic Jacobites have been trying to get the throne back ever since 1688. Of course, it's not likely that Queen Elizabeth II is going to give up the throne for Franz but the Jacobites still can hope.
In the year 1175, the first city wall of München had been built. It had an outline in the shape of a spade. The original city went from the Augustiner Straße next to the Frauenkirche to Peterskirche and the Sparkassen Straße. The Altes Rathaus, next to the Marienplatz, was built over one of the original city gates. It was only about three-fourths of a mile wide. If you are wondering what the symbol "ß" is. It is called an "Eszett" and is pronounced like a double "s". Also, the word Straße or Strasse is, if you haven't already guessed, the German word for street.
The München "spade" rapidly grew and about 1330 a second city wall was built further outside the first. Its horseshoe-shaped form characterizes the outline of the center of the München today. From the old town gates the 'Neuhauser Tor' (built about 1300, nowadays called 'Karlstor'), the 'Sendlinger Tor' (built about 1310) and the 'Isartor' (built about end of the 13. century) are still preserved. This picture above is of the Karlstor (Charles' Gate) and was taken from the Fußgangerzone (Neuhauser Straße) looking through to the Karlsplatz which the locals call "Stachus" (the name of a popular inn that stood here since 1759). They have a large water fountain here (more on that below). The gate was severely damaged during World War II and had to be rebuilt afterwards.
Neuhauser Straße stretches from the Karlsplatz to the Marienplatz and is closed to traffic. It is a large pedestrian walk called a Fußgängerzone (in German this translates to 'foot going zone'). It's full of restaurants and stores. It's always full of people. One of the things you see throughout Europe and especially in München are the outside musicians playing for a few coins. Mostly violin players doing Mozart, but not all. We went in a store front where an opera singer was doing the "Marriage of Figure". The acoustics in there were fantastic which is probably why he uses it. Of course, there was one girl who, we think, was practicing her saxophone lessons outside and hoping to get a few coins for it. As far as this guy here on the right, who knows? He does look interesting though in his traditional Bavarian dress, lederhosen in all.
Fountains and Statues in MünchenGermans have a fascination with water fountains. Every city and town we visited had more then a few. Which is fine by me since I love them too. Here are some of the ones from München. If those khaki-clad tourists below backed up anymore they would be quite wet.
This is the large fountain in the Karlsplatz. People sit around the fountain on the rocks and have their lunch. The 199 nozzles create a comfortable atmosphere. This large square was created in 1791 when they tore down the old city walls (though the fountain was created in 1972). This was the edge of Medieval München. Behind us was once just farmlands outside the city gates. The large building behind us on the right is the Justizpalast (Palace of Justice). In front of us is the Karlstor and the entrance to the Old City.
Brunnenbüberl Richard Srauß Brunner Fischbrunnen
Here are some more fountains. The one on the left is the Brunnenbüberl or "Fountain Boy." The statue is on the Neuhauser Straße just inside the Karlstor. It's a statue of a young boy having water spitted on him by an older looking gentleman. I like this statue because of the humor involved. The expression on the guys face as he spits the water is great. Also, the guy, which only has a head is done in granite while the small boy is in bronze. A little further down Neuhauser Straße, in front of Michaelskirche is the Richard-Strauß-Brunner. This fountain as bas-reliefs on the central column illustrating scenes from the opera "Salome" which was written by München composer Richard Strauss in 1905. I like the palm trees around the fountain. This picture was tough to take. Some elderly women, for whatever reason, was determined not to let me photograph the fountain. On the right is an older looking statue, the Fischbrunner or "Fish Fountain" (this is the one I am photographed with in an above photo). It's in the Marienplatz outside the Neues Rathaus and was built in 1865 (and rebuilt after 1945). This is a favorite hangout for the young people of München (don't ask me why). On top of the fountain (which you can't see in the picture) is a large fish. I like the way they have the water pouring out of the girl's bucket as she examines the fish. You probably guessed that "brunner" is the German word for fountain.
There are many statues around München. This statue at left is of Maximilian I Joseph (Bavaria's first king), in the appropriately named Max-Joseph-Platz, in front of the Nationaltheater (in photo behind the statue). The statue was erected ten years after his death. He didn't want it put up. He didn't think the pose made him look sufficiently majestic. Here is a statue of a man dressed in a toga holding a scepter on a throne supported by lions, but he didn't think it made him look like a great king. Go figure.
Max-Joseph-Platz was created in the 19th century next to the Residenz (the official palace of the Wittelsbachs) and in front of the Nationaltheater. Built in 1818, The National Theater was modeled after Greek temples and also doubles as the National Opera House. A number of Richard Wagner's operas were first performed here. The Nationaltheater was destroyed during World War II bombings and was completely re-built in it's original form and re-opened in 1963.
At right is a statue of King Ludwig the Bavarian on his bronze horse. The statue is on a pedestal flanked by statues of art, religion, poetry and industry. Ludwig was the son of Max Joseph (his portrait is above in the "The Wittelsbach Dynasty" section. The statue was erected in 1862, it is in Odeonplatz at the beginning of Ludwigstraße.
There was once was a Medieval city gate here, the Schwabinger Tor, that was demolished in the early 19th century. Max Joseph, along with his son Ludwig, wanted to organize this area of München north of the Residenz and Theatinerkirche. So they had the large Odeonplatz built as the "Street of the Sciences". This large square takes it's name from the Odeon, an old concert hall built in 1828 and destroyed in 1944. The square was the destination of Hitler and the Nazi's during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 (they were stopped just short of the square).
One afternoon, we walked over to the English Garden or Englischer Garten. It's a large city park in the University section of the city, München's version of Central Park. It has that name because it is laid out like an English landscaped garden (a 900 square acre one). It is one of Europe's largest city parks. It was originally designed for military use, but quickly became a municipal park. There are a great many scenic streams along with large grassy areas. Debbie and I walked to the Monopteros. It's a Neo-Classical building that has great panoramic views of the city (above photo). In the photo, you can see the dome of the old Army Museum, now part of the Bavarian State Chancellery, at left. Next to it is the spire of Peterskirche alongside the tower of the Neu Rathaus. Next are the two largest spires of the Frauenkirche with the dome and tower of the Theatinerkirche at right.
There are other parks throughout München, though none are even close to being this big. Debbie and I walked through the Hofgarten near the Residenz. The Hofgarten exists since the 17th century and was only used by the members of the court. Since 1780, it has been open for public and it became a frequented place for locals to have their Sunday afternoon walk. They also have a good floral display.
Further outside München's center is the Olympiapark (Olympic park). This was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. It is a major attraction of München. Debbie and I didn't go here, but I visited the park back in 1989. It is not only the sport sites for soccer (Olympic stadium) and swimming, which attract millions of visitors every year, the whole architecture and gardening is worth it. Olympic Stadium is covered with a tent-like roof. There is an artificial lake in the middle surrounded by the Olympic tower and a hill. The hill was made from the debris of destroyed buildings after World War II. You can go up in the tower, which I did in 1989. At 951 feet high, it is Germany's highest television tower. It has a revolving restaurant at the top, and offers spectacular views.
We actually didn't visit any cemeteries in München, though there are quite a few. There are none in the center of the city. If you want to see one, you must travel outside the city center. Of course, if you are famous enough or royalty, you can be buried in one of the many München churches, but for the rest, you must go to the cemeteries. Cemeteries are called Friedhofs and usually have the clever names of Nordfriedhof (northern cemetery), Westfriedhof (western cemetery) or Ostfriedhof (eastern cemetery).
The Alte Suedfriedhof (old southern cemetery) contains almost all VIPs of München from the 19th century. Since 1789, it was a main cemetery for all of München. Among the famous people here are painters, poets, scientists and inventors. Waldfriedhof Cemetery (Woodland Cemetery) has more recent famous people like German admiral Alfred von Tirpitz and Nazi film producer Leni Riefenstahl (she has a very interesting gravesite). The one here more known to Americans, and especially James Bond fans, is Karl-Gerhart Fröbe or as he is known to Agent 007, "Goldfinger" (Fröbe has a more idyllic gravesite).
We visited a number of museums while in München. We spent one morning in the Deutsches Museum. Founded at the turn of the 20th century, the Deutsches Museum has become the world's largest science and technology museum with over 10 miles of exhibits (17,000 items are on display). Hands-on activities and fascinating demonstrations of human accomplishment, from classical mechanics to telecommunications, from a full-size reconstructed coal mine to space travel technology.
The museum was built in the 1920's on an island in the Isar River. It has a planetarium also. We couldn't see the whole museum (no one could in one day) so we walked around some of the main exhibits. The largest section of the museum was the Transportation section. It is dedicated to land, water and air transport as well as space flight. In the Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles section they have some old bicycles and motor cycles. They have about 40 historical passenger cars. They have the first car made by Carl Benz in 1886. They have cars made by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Opel, Volkswagen, Daimler and the elegant 1939 Horch 853 A Sport-Cabriolet. This was a very popular town car in it's time.
They have a large collection of railway locomotives and cars. They have 18 original locomotives, among them the first steam engine, built in 1814, called "Puffing Billy", the first electric engine built in 1879 along with the legendary 1912 Bavarian express steam locomotive (painted bright green). They also have a model railroad set-up, but not quite as large as the one in the museum in Luzern, Switzerland.
My favorite section was the Aerospace exhibit. The aircraft hall is two stories high and has a large collection of 50 airplanes on the floor and suspended from the ceiling. They have World War I aircraft like the Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker painted red like Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen's, also known as "the Red Baron", plane (above) and World War II aircraft like the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E (at right). The Messerschmitt, or ME-109, was the workhorse of the German airforce, or Luftwaffe, during World War II. Over 35,000 of these planes were built. On the main floor is a Messerschmitt Me 262. This was the first mass produced jet fighter. It was produced by the Nazi's, however, they were made so late in the war as not to be a deciding factor in the air war over Germany.
Manfred von Richthofen was the top ace of World War I. The German's called him "der rote Kampfflieger" (The Red Battle-Flyer). The French called him "le petit rouge" and he is known in the English speaking world as the "Red Baron". He is credited with 80 victories before being shot down and killed on April 21, 1918 at the age of 25. The red painted Fokker Dr.I (as seen above) is mostly associated with Richthofen, however, he only flew it at the end of his career and shot down only two planes while flying it. After his death, Richthofen's brother Lothar carried on his tradition shooting down 40 planes before he was forced to retire. Richthofen's eventual successor was Hermann Göring (who would later become the head of the German Luftwaffe and a particularly infamous Nazi), who chose to paint his aircraft completely white, ending the reign of the blood-red German fighters. The red tri-plane here in the museum is not Richthofen's plane. After being shot down, the plane was ravished by souvenir hunters.
Another similar museum is the BMW Museum, which is outside the city next to the Olympic Park. We didn't get a chance to visit here, after the Deutsches Museum it seemed like overkill. The museum was opened in 1973 and chronicles the development of BMW cars and other vehicles. The futuristic architecture is interesting also. The museum is shaped like a large teacup (I have no idea why). When I was at the top of the Olympic Tower in 1989, I was able to see the large BMW logo on the roof. Next to the museum is the BMW headquarters. These buildings can be seen in the original "Rollerball" movie with James Caan.
We visted the Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery) on one afternoon. This world-famous museum opened in 1836. The Alte Pinakothek contains some of the world's finest collections of European paintings. In the sixteenth century, Bavaria's rulers began acquiring works of art for their personal enjoyments which were placed in several palaces and galleries. In 1836, this collection was opened to the public. There are 800 works of art by Flemish, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch and Flemish artists. Some of the more famous artists represented here are Albrecht Dürer, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens The Abduction of the Daughters of Leucippus (right) and a Madonna and Child by Leonardo da Vinci. The museums collection also include the Canigani Holy Family, which was the first painting by Raphael to be brought to Germany. During World War II, the museum was closed. The paintings were stored at first in München and then, in 1942, moved out of the city, which helped keep losses at a minimum. A number of Allied bombing raids severely damaged the building. The museum was completely rebuilt after the war. It was re-opened in 1957.
Located across the street from the Renaissance style Alte Pinakothek, is the Neue Pinakothek (New Picture Gallery) shown at left. It's a modern concrete, glass and granite building featuring art from the late 18th to the 20th century. The Neue Pinakothek offers an overview of European art from classicism to art nouveau. Its founder was King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who opened the museum in 1853 and had it built to house his privately financed collection of works by contemporary artists. Its displays include works of the French and German Impressionists, Romantic paintings and the art noveau style known in Germany as Jugendstil. There is also an impressive collection of sculpture from the same time period. Among it's many paintings are works by Edgar Degas (Woman Ironing), Edouard Manet (Breakfast in the Studio - at right), Paul Cézanne (Still Life with Commode), Claude Monet (The Bridge at Argenteuil), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Le jeune Routy à Céleyran), Vincent van Gogh (Sunflowers) and Gustav Klimt (Portrait of Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein). The old Neue Pinakothek was badly damaged during World War II and was demolished after the war. The collection was temporary exhibited in the Haus der Kunst. The current building was opened in 1981. This museum is easy to walk through. They have a route that you can follow. Many of the rooms are lit with natural light from glass ceilings. Also, outside they have a number of water pools with fountains and waterfalls.
The thing I liked about the art museums is that they are not that expensive. If you want to go today, the entrance fee to either museum is only five euros and they are free on Sundays.
They used to have a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait in the Neue Pinakothek. In 1938, it was confiscated by the Nazi government and labeled “degenerate art." The Nazi's did a lot of that. The Nazi's actually put on an art exhibit of what they called "degenerate art", to show how 'bad' it was. The exhibit was set up in the new Nazi art museum, Haus der Kunst (this website is only in German - they are working on the English version), built in 1937. The major purpose of the building was to display propaganda art which the Nazi's proclaimed as "truly German." The Nazi art part of the museum didn't get a lot of visitors. However, they eventually had to close the degenerate art exhibit when thousands lined up daily to see it (the lines continued to stretch out of the building and around the corner). Needless to say, many a Nazi official was embarrassed by this. The building itself was typical of Nazi architecture. Ironically, the Nazi's are long gone, but the Haus der Kunst continues as a world-famous museum of modern art. Unfortunately, Debbie and I didn't get into this museum.
Near the Haus der Kunst, which is next to the Englischer Garten, is the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum). It is an art and history museum. This museum is only € 3 and is also free on Sunday. We didn't get in here either. We were only in München for three days!
We also missed the Deutsches Jagd und Fischereimuseum (German hunting and fishing museum) on Neuhauser Strasse. I bet you can guess why. It's € 6 and is not free on Sundays. However, it does have an interesting statue of a bronze boar in front of it.
On one of the days here, we took a guided walking tour of the sights of München during National Socialism called "The Infamous Third Reich Sites." This was Adolph Hitler's political party that he used to bring him to power in 1933. It's full name was the National Socialist German Workers' Party or NSDAP for short. The German word for National Socialist is "Nationalsozialistische" or Nazi for short. Hitler moved to München in the Spring of 1913, before World War I. After the war, he lived in München and became involved in the turbulent politics. In 1923, he attempted a military take-over the Bavarian government, called "The Beer Hall Putcsh" which failed. Because of this, after the Nazi's came to power, the city was officially named "Hauptstadt der Bewegung" (Capital of the Movement) and the Nazi Party had it's headquarters here.
We took the U-Bahn (subway) to the Hauptbahnhof (train station) and met the tour guide. Munich central railway station, is one of the largest railway stations in Germany. It began as a provisional wooden building and was the starting point for the tracks from Munich to Augsburg. It was heavily damaged by bombings and a new building was completed in 1960. From the station we took a tram back to the Marienplatz. This was part of the route the Nazi's took during the "Beer Hall Putsch" (a "putsch" is a word for a military take-over of the government if you were wondering - kind of like a Coup de tat). On the evening of November 8, 1923, Hitler began the putsch in the Bürgerbräukeller (beer hall) where a political rally for the new Bavarian government was going on. The Bürgerbräukeller was just across the Isar River east of the town center. Hitler entered the beer hall and fired a shot into the ceiling and announced to the 3,000 thirsty beer-drinking Bavarians that a revolution had begun. Hitler had the support of World War I war hero, General Erich Ludendorff. Though successful at first, that night the plan started to fall apart. The next morning, Ludendorff convinced Hitler that the Army and Police would not fire on the General (because he was a WWI hero, of course). The Nazis could easily march into München and take it over. At 11 am, about 3,000 Nazis (most wanting a new government and some perhaps just wanting some more beer), led by Hitler, Hermann Göring and Ludendorff, begin marching into München.
After leaving the Bürgerbräukeller, they first crossed the Isar River using the Ludwig Bridge. This is the historical spot where the first toll bridge in München was built back in 1158 (a new bridge was built in 1935). There was a group of police here, but they bluffed their way through. From there, they marched up Zweibrükenstraße and through the Isartor. They marched up the Tal (past our hotel and the Altes Rathaus) to the Marienplatz. As they entered the Marienplatz, they made a right-turn onto Dienerstraße and marched north toward the Odeonplatz. This was the point that we followed the route. Dienerstraße turns into the Residenzstraße as you pass Max Joseph Platz. Here the street, next to the Residenze, gets very narrow before it opens out into the Odeonplatz. About 100 policemen were barricading the end of the street next to the Feldherrnhalle (Commander's Hall). Someone fired a shot (they are not sure who) when gunfire broke out on all sides. Hitler hit the street as 16 Nazi's and 3 policeman were killed. Ludendorff, ever the good German officer, marched up to the police barricades, where he was arrested (he was so disgusted with Hitler and the other Nazi's for not following him, he dissociated himself from them forever). Hitler was one of the first to take off leaving the others behind. He was later arrested. The putsch was over, but the Nazi Party was just beginning. Hitler went to jail for this, but 10 years later he would be elected into power. During the Nazi regime, Hitler and others would retrace the steps of the putsch through the streets of München as seen in this 1934 photo above (too bad nobody shot at them again). The site itself, next to the Feldherrnhalle, next to the Odeonplatz, became sacred to the Nazi's (it was on the wall on the left side of the building with the three arches at the edge of the picture below). They had a monument erected there with wreaths and SS honor guards. As people walked by, they were required to give the Nazi salute. You can still see the outline on the wall today where the plaque used to be.
In 1939, Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at Bürgerbräukeller when a bomb planted by a Johann Georg Elser exploded. Hitler had left a rally early and escaped the explosion that killed eight other Nazi's. Elser was arrested by the Gestapo and was murdered in Dachau Concentration Camp in April of 1945. The Bürgerbräukeller on Zweibrükenstraße survived the war, but you can't visit it today. In 1960, Zweibrükenstraße was renamed Rosenheimerstraße. In the 1970's, the Bürgerbräukeller was torn down and the Gasteig Kulturzentrum was built in it's place. It's a large cultural center with a philharmonic concert hall along with a number of other cultural halls (kind of like a small version of New York's Lincoln Center).
Here is the the Odeonplatz at left. On the right is the large Theatinerkirche with it's massive dome. On the left is the Feldherrnhalle. The Nazi memorial would be just to the left of the building just outside the photo.
The tour left the Odeonplatz (at right), and we went to the Karolinenplatz, a few blocks west of here. It's a circular plaza named after Karolina, the mother of King Ludwig I (isn't that nice, he named the square after his mother). In the middle of the plaza is a 95 ft. high bronze obelisk commemorating the 30,000 Bavarian soldiers who, as part of Napoleon's army, died during the Russian campaign of 1812 (most of them froze to death).
From there it is a short walk to the Konigplatz (King's place). This was the center of the Nazi Party in München. They held many of their early torch lit rallies here along with their book-burning get togethers. Hitler had the whole Konigplatz paved over. At one end of the Konigplatz, Hitler had two temples built on either side of Briennerstraße. These two open-air Ehrentempeln ("Temples of Honor") contained the sarcophagi of the 16 Nazi's killed in the Beer Hall Putsch (they had 8 in each). They were even guarded by SS officers. How ironic, one day these 16 were drunken beer-hall rowdies and the next day they are honored dead (This reminded me of a line that Bogart used in the movie Casablanca). The structures survived the war, but the American army had them torn down (no mention of what happened to the 16 ornate sarcophagi or their contents). You can still see the foundations today, though they are heavily overgrown with weeds and trees (in the right of the photo below) .
Next to one of the Ehrentempeln, we saw the old Führerbau on Arcisstraße (at left). This was built as an office building for Hitler himself. In September of 1938, Hitler, Mussolini and Chamberlain met in this building and signed The Munich Accords which partitioned Czechoslovakia up. The building is entirely intact, except that the two Nazi eagle and swastikas statues have been removed from the top of the facade of the building. Though you can still see where they were attached (below the blue arrows). If you want to see original black and white photos of the site go to this link.
One of the biggest ironies of the war in München was that between 1940 and 1945 there were 71 aerial bombings in München. As was mentioned above, half of München (including 90% of the old city) was destroyed. Most of it's churches, museums and other historical buildings were severely damaged if not totally destroyed (along with 82,000 homes). However, most of the Nazi buildings, including the party headquarters, were barely touched.
One of the spots they take you to is a black granite memorial to the resistance movement in München (at right). The domed building in the background is the Bavarian State Chancellery (the domed part is the old Army Museum). In the summer of 1942, an anti-Nazi movement among college students sprung up in München. It was called "The White Rose" or "Die Weiß Rose." Later joined by one of their professors, they began printing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets. They even mailed them thoughout Germany. By February of 1943, they grew more daring, painting anti-Nazi slogans on walls throughout Ludwigstraße near the University of München. A few days later on February 18, two of the leaders, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, dumped hundreds of leaflets into the University courtyard. Unfortunately, they were seen by a University maintenance man and Nazi party member who turned them in to the Gestapo (German secret police). Other arrest soon followed. The Scholls, along with another member Christoph Probst, were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Hitler's People's Court or Volksgerichtshof (which dealt with cases of treason against Hitler and the Nazis) on February 22 and sent to the guillotine in München's Stadelheim prison later that day (the trial, sentencing and executions lasted only four hours). Two other members, including Professor Kurt Huber, were tried and executed later in July. A sixth member was executed in October. Another member, Hans Leipelt, a former German soldier, awarded the Iron Cross for bravery in France (until he was kicked out of the army for being half-Jewish), collected money for Professor Huber's family. He was arrested for this by the Gestapo in October of 1943, along with his family, and sent to prison. In January of 1945, he was also convicted and beheaded in Stadelheim prison. Two of the members survived and live today in the United States. The Nazi judge in all of the trials, Roland Freisler, was infamous for his outbursts from the bench, screaming at and humiliating defendants. During a trial in Berlin on February 3, 1945, an Allied bombing raid hit the courthouse killing the Nazi judge.
The tour also goes into the fate of München's Jewish population. As is mentioned above, München had 10,000 Jewish citizens when Hitler came to power, but by the end of World War II, only 200 were alive. On the night of November 9, 1938 called Kristallnacht (or night of the broken glass), München's synagogues were torched, including the main synagogue in the Karlsplatz. Outside of München was Germany's first concentration camp, Dachau. The camp was opened in 1933 and until it was liberated by the U.S. Army in April of 1945, saw the deaths of 80,000 people, mostly Jewish citizens (of course, Dachau was small in comparison to Auchwitz in Poland which was only open for a year and a half, but saw the deaths of around two million people). Debbie and I didn't visit here during our trip (a bit depressing for a honeymoon, don't you think). However, I went there during my first trip in 1989.
Other spots of Nazi history that were not on the tour are the Sterneckerbräu across the street from our hotel on the Tal. This large building with stone archway windows and doors was once a beer hall. It was here that Hitler had his first office where he organized the new "German Worker's Party" (only had 7 members at the time) including planning their first big meeting to be held on February 24, 1920 at the Hofbräuhaus. North of the train station is a four story apartment building at 27 Prinzenregentplatz. On the top floor was Hitler's first apartment in München when he moved here from Austria in 1913. Not too far away is the building at 16 Prinzenregentplatz which was Hitler's luxury apartment later on when he was the head of a powerful Nazi party. It was here that his favorite niece, Geli Raubal, committed suicide in 1931.
Eating and Drinking in München
Here we are outside the Paulaner Beer Hall in the Marienplatz. We just watched the 11am Glockenspiel show and are now sitting down to enjoy a little light refreshment. I tried the Paulaner Weißbier. The Marienplatz is where many of the restaurants and a couple beerhalls are. München's beer halls have their origins in the Middle Ages, when brewers stored barrels indoors, planting chestnut trees around their premises to shade them from the heat of the sun. These days beer gardens remain popular with locals and tourists. In the summer they set up tables and chairs in these enclosed courtyards, sometimes with a fountain in the middle. Beer is served in liter steins by these traditionally clad waitress going from table to table clutching several enormous, foaming beer steins in each hand while the resident brass band plays a seemingly endless succession of oompah tunes. Many beer gardens serve up roasted half-chickens (always well salted to keep their customers thirty and drinking lots of beer) with side orders of potato salad or French fries, while some have more extensive menus and others allow you to bring your own food. I found this article on the six big beers of München.
München ranks as the third largest producer of beer (or bier) in the world, and it can legitimately claim to be both the most influential and the most varied in output: it pioneered wheat-based and brown-colored beers, and adapted the original Bock of Einbeck to the form in which it's generally known today. The largest of the local breweries is Paulaner, which produces a full range of styles, generally with a drier flavor than those of its competitors; the dark and extremely powerful Salvator-Doppelbock is its star product. Paulaner has taken over Hacker-Pschorr (two formerly separate breweries which later merged), whose product lines include an amber-colored Märzen and Pschorr-Weiße, a very pale wheat beer. Löwenbräu, better known abroad through being a bigger exporter, produces a similarly wide variety of generally maltier beers, among which the Pils enjoys the highest reputation. Though the Löwenbräu you buy in the United States is no longer imported but brewed in America. Though it continues to operate as a separate entity, Löwenbräu is now owned by its erstwhile rival Spaten, which has the best amber and black beers – known respectively as Ur-Märzen and Ludwig-Thoma-Dunkel – but is equally known for its Franziskaner Weißbier (available in both light and dark versions) and Maibock. Hofbräu, the oldest of the breweries, makes the classic Maibock plus a number of contrasting wheat beers, though its standard line is an Export. The main strength of Augustiner is its pale (Hell) beer, but it produces several prestigious dark brews as well.
Our first night in München, we went to the Augustiner Keller on the west end of the Marienplatz for dinner. This is a large 19th century beerhall and restaurant of München's oldest brewery. It is more upscale then the ever-popular Hofbräuhaus. Originally an Augustinian monastery dating back to 1294, it first began brewing beer in 1328. I guess after they were done praying, the monks needed a hobby. Eventually, the brewery was moved to its present location on Neuhauserstraße in the center of Munich. We sat in a cavernous beerhall that is typical Bavarian. I tried the Tellerfleisch (boiled beef with horseradish) with a Augustiner Weißbeer (Weißbeer means white beer, but is really a wheat beer). Boy, was it good. Debbie tried something with chicken and no beer of course. I bet these guys in the picture above are very popular at parties. This is the Augustinian beer wagon with it's decked out horses prepared for a local beer festival.
Augustiner is one of a number of local beers of München. Many of which have their own beerhalls. Another night, we ate outside in the plaza at the Donisl Restaurant which serves Hacker-Pschorr beers. We shared a table with a German couple. They told us that they make numerous trips to the United States. He told us he likes to travel out west to see the cowboys. I have been told that Germans have a fascination with the Wild West.
Of course, for lunch one day, we visited the famous Hofbräuhaus. Probably one of the most famous public bar in the world. The Hofbräuhaus has the unique ability of appealing to tourists, locals and beer fans while still maintaining a pleasant atmosphere of a big Bavarian beer hall. It was founded in 1589 and just celebrated it's 400th anniversary back in 1989. Hofbräuhaus beer was initially available only to royals. However, by 1610, all of the common people could imbibe the brew. It was also the site of the first large Nazi party rally in 1920. After extensive bomb damage in World War II, the beer hall underwent major renovations in 1966 to achieve its present appearance. It now has the distinction of being one of München's most attractive and recognizable landmarks. You can order a plate of sausages with your liter stein of beer or buy a big pretzel from the strolling pretzel girls. Foodwise, the Hofbräuhaus offers rather conventional Bavarian cuisine, from beer-basted roasted suckling pig with dumplings to the strictly Bavarian Leberkäs (baked loaf of ground beef and bacon) and cucumber salad. We sat near a Bavarian band (at left) playing what I am sure was a large repertoire of their favorite beer drinking oompah songs. I of course had the liter of beer while Debbie tried "Cola-Mix". It's a combination of cola and orange soda. Debbie said it was a vile brew and was their idea of punishment for not ordering a beer. Of course, we all know this photo above is not real, Debbie would never be having a beer (actually, that's mine).
There are many restaurants in München to eat at. We found this one out of the way place that mostly locals went to called Zum Dürnbräu near the hotel (picture on left). It claims to have been around since 1487. We were the only tourists in the place and the only English being spoken. The meal was great (I had the sauerbraten while Debbie had the pork filets) as was the Spaten beer. As you can see, I was really enjoying myself. I like the beerstein with the pewter lid. Of course, you can always grab a sausage sandwich and eat outside. Here is Debbie enjoying her sausage sandwich and Diet Coke against the Frauenkirche.
Beer drinking in München is more than a past time, it's an artform. I can't tell you what Debbie thinks of this concept (I want to keep my PG rating for this site). I took this picture at left during my first trip to München back in 1989. Grandma here was enjoying her lunch and Löwenbräu in this outside restaurant. We coaxed her a little to raise her glass for the picture. Here I am in 1999, this time enjoying a Paulaner Weißbier in an outside cafe. Debbie didn't have too coax me to raise my glass.
The Viktualienmarkt is München's oldest and most picturesque outdoor farmers market. It is a large open area on Sparkassen Straße, down the street from the Heilig-Geist-Kirche and near the Altes Rathaus. Since the beginning of the 19th century you could buy anything here. They sell fruit, vegetables, meat, wines, cheeses, fish and flowers in tented stalls. They have stalls that specialize in only olives. Another stall has 60 different types of honey. In addition, they sell quite a bit of fresh exotic fruit from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bali, Thailand, the Ivory Coast, and Ghana. I have been told that they have over 140 different vendors. They joke by calling the Viktualienmarkt, "München's stomach." You can also buy some weißwurst and a beer and sit in the beergarden around the decorated maypole (at left). On the last day of carnivale they have what they call, "The Masked Dance of the Market Women." I bet that's quite something to see. The maypole (or Maibaum) is decorated with München themes. On the lower level, you can see the beer barrels with the logos of the local breweries on a wagon being pulled by horses. Above it, which is hard to make out in the picture, are people enjoying the beer. At the bottom is the München crest. The Viktualienmarkt also has a number of small fountains. The Karl Valentin Brunnen (fountain) is dedicated to one of the greatest Bavarian humorist. Valentin, together with its congenial partner Liesl Karlstadt, delighted the citizens of Munich with his short films and live performances at the beginning of the 20th century. Also, the Viktualienmarkt is open all year round.
Here is Debbie in a local phonebooth calling home. You can just hear her saying, "Help! all they have here is beer and sausages!"
After three wonderful days, Debbie and I said "Auf Wiedersehen" to München, packed up the car and headed south along the E533/95 Autobahn to Oberammergau for three days.
Buy your own traditional Bavarian beer steins at Bavarian Traditions
See how they make beer steins at Beer Steins International