Munich is a popular destination that many travellers fly into due to airports many connections and the regularly discounted flights which are often on offer to Munich. Many travellers just us it as a transfer point, but the city itself has so much to offer. If you do find yourself flying through Munich or using it as a jumping off point to your European adventure, take at least 24 hours to explore this magnificent city.
Munich is the capital city of Bavaria, Germany. Its name is derived from the Old German phrase "The Old Monks' Place" because monks of the Benedictine order originally founded the city. The medieval roots of the original city are found everywhere you look. From the cobblestones to the architecture. Gothic designs simply pour off the walls and street corners.
The Sendlinger Tor or the Sendling Gate is a great place to start your journey into Munich. The ancient city gates mark the entrance to the historic old town. The walls were once used as fortification and defence for the city originally built in 1318. Walking through this giant red brick arched gate covered in bright green moss, marks the start of your day inside one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Once passed through the gate, take a moment to study the brightly coloured building all around you. Pale yellows and pinks, as well as right orange and teal create a rainbow of colourful facades to stare up at as you walk down historic Sendlinger Straße.
Take a moment to stop in front of the Asam Church or the St. Johann Nepomuk Church better known as the Asam Church. Inside you can view some of the most beautiful Baroque Architecture in the city.
The interior looks like a gilded jewellery box. This dark and narrow church feels warm and cosy. Your neck might get a little sore as you crane your head up to gaze at the stunning frescos on the ceiling and various stucco cherubs which hand off the sides of the walls. The church was built as a private chapel, instead of being contracted by the church. This meant that the architect Egid Quirin Asam had a lot more freedom with the design which is why the final construction is so unique even today.
As you continue down Sendlinger Straße, veer off to the right down Rosental Street towards the Viktualienmarkt. The Viktualienmarkt is the perfect place to grab a bit to eat for breakfast. It contains more than 140 stalls selling everything from baked good, fresh flowers, delicate spices, German sausages and more! The market was first established in 1807 by King Maximilian I.
My favourite option for breakfast is a small picnic of goods to eat while people watching other shoppers. Start with some freshly baked buns, some sausage, a few slices of fresh cheese, a basket of locally grown fruit and a hot cup of coffee from anywhere with a line of locals crowding around it.
On the way toward Marienplatz, be sure to stop at Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). Not only is it a gorgeous church (and the oldest Church in Munich), the tower provides a marvellous view of surrounding city! The Church's foundation was built in 1158 and the interior completed in the 12th century. A fire in the 13th century destroyed the building but almost immediately reconstructed began, and the new church was finished in 1368. The interior is dominated by Gothic paintings and a grand fresco ceiling depicting St. Peter's acts of wonder.
On the other side of the church is the entrance to the tower. An ancient staircase takes you up into a 92-meter spire. It is a long climb to the top but it well worth the effort. The tower has narrow stairways and low lighting which can make your walk up an eerie experience. It also can become very very crowded and in some of the narrowest areas, and you frequently have to stop to let those coming down by. But claustrophobia aside, it's the best view of the city and only costs a few Euros. It gives you a great perspective on the city, especially if you're only in town for a small amount of time and won't have the chance to see all these great locations in person.
Across from Peter's Church is the old Town Hall. In Marienplatz, there are two town halls, the old and the new. This old town hall was first built in 1470 by Jörg von Halsbach - better known as the master builder of the Frauenkirche. Throughout the late Renaissance and Baroque period, various renovations resulted in the blending of style represented on the facade of the building. The red-topped tower is much older than the rest of the building since it was initially part of the city's fortifications. Today, the old town hall serves as the home to a famous Toy Museum featuring four rooms inside the towers which trace the history of toys in Germany.
Despite much of Munich being reconstructed after extensive bombings during WWII, the city still feels medieval. Marienplatz was once, and still is today, the centre of the city for Munich. When we visited, tt was there that the bicentennial festival. The festival's Main Stage was situated right in Marienplatz, and it was crammed full of people carrying brightly coloured umbrellas to protect themselves from the impending rain.
In the middle ages, this square was also a place for festivities. It was here that jousting tournaments took take place and to this day the famous Glockenspiel has scenes from past games are re-enacted when the clock strikes 11 am, 12 pm and 6 pm. Tiny sculptures of knights and horses spin around the clock to the sounds of chimes and bells tolling.
A stop at the Neues Rathaus or New City Hall is a great chance to view some incredible gothic revival architecture, a glimpse into the style of architecture which once dominated the city. Along the columns which face out onto Marienplatz are the faces and statues of Duke Henry, the Lion, and other royal family members, the Kings and Princes of Wittelsbach Bavarian. They look down at you, rulers of the past still watching us in the future.
On the opposite side of the Neues Rathaus are many touristy restaurants with outdoor patio seating in the summer. And although the food will be overpriced and underwhelming, the beer is fantastic, and you can't be the view. Spend a few extra Euros to sit here, and people watch while you give your legs a rest!
While in Marienplatz, be sure to visit the historic "Hofbräuhaus". This is one of the most lively beer halls in the entire city. Three floors of long shared tables and enormous steins of beer make up the famous Hofbräuhaus
If you're an ecclesiastical architecture buff like me, when you've finished up at the Marienplatz, pay a visit to the <b>Frauenkirche</b>. This church has two beautiful twin baroque towers with domed roofs that stand out against the skyline along with its bright red roof. There are legislations on construction surrounding the church which deems that no building can exceed a certain height as not to take away from the effect these grand towers. Inside the details were pretty bland, but the simple vaulting of the roof was very compelling. Its clean and geometric and makes an impact without needing bright colours elaborate designs.
Inside the church, there is a rich collection of 14th to 18th-century artwork of notable artists.
Next, head down to the Munich Residenz. The Residenz was initially constructed in 1385 as a magnificent palace for Bavarian Royals. In 1508 it was transformed into the seat of government for Bavarian dukes and kings and remained that way until 1918. It now houses a museum with some of Munich's most beautiful historical artefacts from the Renaissance to the Baroque and Rococo period.
Various rooms inside can be explored if you venture into the museum and if you have the time and interest, you'll be blown away by what you find inside.
Across from the Residenz is the Hofgarten, an enormous Renaissance-style garden built in 1616 by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria. Maximilian loved the Italian style gardens he saw while travelling across Italy and wanted to bring a similar illustrious garden to the city of Munich. Take one of any of the arches paths to the centre of the garden where you'll find the dazzling pavilion of Diana.
In the northeast side of the garden, you'll find the Bavarian Staatskanzlei State Chancellery, housed in the former Army Museum. The original building can be seen in beige sandstone flanked on either side by two glass covered wings which were added as extensions.
To the west of the Hofgaten is Odeonsplatz. The Odeonsplatz is an enormous square surrounding several of the most magnificent buildings in Munich; the Italianesque Feldherrnhalle and the Theatinerkirche. The square was built in 1816 by Ludwig I who wanted a great gateway into the city for people to admire when they arrived. The name comes from the "Odeon" a large concert hall which once stood in this square before the war. It was heavily bombed, and the remains turned renovated into a government building.
The most impressive building in the square is the yellow-hued, copper-domed Theatinerkirche or Theatiner Church. Built in the high-baroque style in 1663 it features two iconic towers, curling up to the sky, which is still to this day a seminal part of the Munich skyline.
The Feldherrnhalle or Field Marshal is a covered hall features three large arches. It reminds me very much of covered halls in Italy, especially the one in Florence. The entrance to the hall is flanked by two Bayern lions. These sable lions are featured on the Bavarian coat of arms and are a strong symbol of the city.
Odeonsplatz is the site of many parades, festivals, public events and even funeral processions. The square also holds a dark past. In 1923, the square was the scene of a fatal gun battle between police and the rising Nazi force. It was a sinister foreshadowing of things to do. When we visited, the square was a place of celebration. A huge tent dominated the middle of the Platz with me in traditional German lederhosen playing "Mumford and Sons" cover on their acoustic guitars.
Since it was a day of festivities when we visited we saw more and more people wearing giant gingerbread cookie necklaces. I saw someone GIVING them away and asked for two for my friend and me. She gave us two, and we wore them around as neck with everyone else. These gingerbread hearts were often bought by men who would put a sweet message in icing on it for their sweetheart. Today, they are just a symbol of celebration!
To end the evening, there is no better place to go than the Augustiner-Keller. Serving up traditional German food and beer, this picturesque beer garden is the perfect place to relax after a long day. Sit underneath one of the hundreds of chesnuts trees which provide a natural canopy over the outdoor restaurant. There are over 5,000 seats in this enormous place so unless you're visiting on a festival day; you're almost sure tog et a spot. The Austinger was built in 1812 and is one of the cities oldest beer gardens. While you're here, you absolutely must try their beer. It's not any old beer, but one poured right from their brewery. If you choose to sit inside, you'll get to experience their historic rooms which feel like medieval festival halls.