Five stars for sure.
"Taco Libre" which had to be where those babies came from. So while Chris, my dad, and Jane stayed to rest and unpack, Fox, my mom, and I walked to Taco Libre and ordered lunch for us all.
It was about 4 in the afternoon, still plenty of daylight for sightseeing so we figured out how to get to an art museum. But first, we stopped to take some pictures at this huge "O" sculpture.
It arrived right on time!
Bavaria's best painting gallery shows off a world-class collection of European masterpieces from the 14th to 19th centuries. There are paintings from the Italian Renaissance (Raphael, Leonardo, Botticelli, Titian) and the German Renaissance it inspired (Albrecht Dürer).
Both my mom and Chris are Art History majors so they were totally geeking out. I too love art and appreciate it, but those two were bopping around like kids in a candy store.
The three paintings on the right are by Raphael.
LEFT: Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin and Child need no halos - they radiate purity. Mary is a solid pyramid of maternal love, flanked by Renaissance-arch windows that look out on the hazy distance. Baby Jesus reaches out to play innocently with a carnation, the blood-colored symbol of his eventual death. | RIGHT: The main reason we went to this museum was so my mom could see Dürer's Self-Portrait in Fur Coat. He looks like Jesus but it's actually 28-year-old Dürer himself, gazing out, with his right hand solemnly giving a blessing.
Jane was being sooooooo naughty, probably because she woke up at 5am and didn't get good naps. I had to take her out for a few minutes to calm down. And at one point Fox and Jane were literally rolling on the ground, I quickly took a picture and then made them get up and be a little more respectful.
The glass windows had such an interesting texture!
In the gift shop I fell in LOVE with these dual-patterned plates. So interesting and pretty! If we ever go back I am so getting one. Or two.
There's a park in the same lot as the museum and Fox and Grandpa had tons of fun checking out the various toys.
See-sawing it up.
Rather than take the bus back we decided to walk since it was only about 15 minutes back to the apartment. We walked through Königsplatz - or King's Square.
Built in the style of European Neo-Classicism in the 19th century, it is a center of cultural life. The area around Königsplatz is today the home to the Lenbachhaus and Glyptothek (keep reading for more details). The square was designed by Karl von Fischer working for the Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and laid out by Leo von Klenze. Fischer modeled the Königsplatz after the Acropolis in Athens. As a beautiful and monumental place, the Königplatz was used during the Third Reich as a square for the Nazi Party's mass rallies. The Brown House, the national headquarters of the Nazi Party in Germany was located at 45 Brienner Straße, close to the square.
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn because kids just don't know the difference between vacation and real life and the idea of "sleeping in" :) Surprisingly they got themselves in the stroller and were all ready to go before the rest of us were!
The beautiful courtyard in the center of the apartment.
Okay, time for some information about Munich! It's rich, long, and full of history!
Munich, often called Germany's most livable city, is also one of its most historic, artistic, and entertaining. It's big and growing with a population of 1.5 million but despite its large population, Munich feels small. This big-city elegance is possible because of its determination to be pedestrian and bike-friendly, and because of a law that prohibits any building from being taller than the church spires. Despite ongoing debate about changing this policy there are still no skyscrapers in downtown Munich. Until 1871 Munich was the capital of independent Bavaria. Its imperial palaces, jewels, and grand boulevards constantly remind visitors that Munich has long been a political and cultural powerhouse. Meanwhile, the concentration camp in nearby Dachau reminds us that 80 years ago it provided a springboard for Nazism.
Born from Salt (1100-1500)
Munich began in the 12th century when Henry the Lion muscled in on the lucrative salt trade, burning a rival's bridge over the Isar River and building his own near a monastery of "monks" - München. The town's coat of arms features the Münchner Kindl, a child in monk's robes. Henry built walls and towers and opened a market and peasants flocked in from the countryside. Marienplatz was the center of town and the crossroads of the Salzstrasse (Salt Road) from Salzburg to Augsburg. After Henry's death the town was taken over by an ambitions merchant family, the Wittelsbachs (1240) and became the capital of the region (1255). Munich-born Louis IV (1282-1347) was elected king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, temporarily making Munich a major European capital. By the 1400s Munich's maypole-studded market bustled with trade. Besides salt, Munich gained a reputation for beer. More than 30 breweries pumped out the golden liquid that lubricated both trade and traders. The Bavarian Beer Purity Law assured quality control. Wealthy townspeople erected the twindomed Frauenkirche and the Altes Rathaus on Marienplatz and the Wittelsbachs built a stout castle that would eventually become the cushy Residenz. When the various regions of Bavaria united in 1506 Munich (population 14,000) was the natural capital.
Religious Wars, Plagues, Decline (1500-1800)
While Martine Luther and the Protestant Reformation raged in northern Germany, Munich became the ultra-Catholic heart of the Counter-Reformation. The devout citizens poured enormous funds into the building of the massive St. Michael's Church (1583) as a home for the Jesuits and into the Residenz (early 1600s) as home of the Wittelsbachs. Both were showpieces of the conservative power and the Baroque and Rococo styles. During the Thirty Year's War the Catholic city was surrounded by Protestants (1632). The Wittelsbachs surrendered quickly and paid a ransom, sparing the city from pillage, but it was soon hit by the bubonic plague. After that passed the leaders erected the Virgin's column on Marienplatz to thank God for killing "only" 7000 citizens. The double whammy of invasion and disease left Munich bankrupt and powerless, overshadowed by the more powerful Habsburgs of Austria. The Wittelsbachs took their cultural cues from France (the Nymphenburg Palace is a mini Versailles), England (the English Garden), and Italy (the Pitti Palace-inspired Residenz). While the rest of Europe modernized and headed toward democracy, Munich remained conservative and behind the times.
The Kings (1806-1918): Max I, Ludwig I, Max II, Ludwig II, Ludwig III
When Napolean's army surrounded the city (1800) the Wittelsbachs again surrendered hospitably. Napoleon rewarded the Wittelsbach "duke" with more territory and a royal title: "king." Maximilian I (reigned 1806-1825) now ruled the Kingdom of Bavaria, a nation bigger than Switzerland, with a constitution and parliament. When Max's popular son Ludwig married (September 1810) it touched off a 2 week celebration that became and annual event: OKTOBERFEST. As king, Ludwig I (reigned 1825-1848) set about rebuilding the capital in the Neoclassical style we see today. Medieval walls and ramshackle houses were replaced with grand buildings of columns and arches. Connecting these were broad boulevards and plazas for horse carriages and promenading citizens. Ludwig established the university and built the first railway line, turning Munich (population 90,000) into a major transportation hub, budding industrial city, and fitting capital. In 1846 the skirt-chasing King Ludwig was beguiled by an Irish dancer, he spent too much money, and eventually the citizens rose up and forced him to abdicate. His son, Maximilian II (reigned 1848-1864) continued Ludwig's enlightened program of modernizing. In 1864, Max II's son, Ludwig II (reigned 1864-1886) became king. He invited composer Richard Wagner to Munich, planning a lavish new opera house to stage Wagner's operas. Munich didn't like Ludwig, and Ludwig didn't like Munich. For most of his reign Ludwig avoided the Residenz and Nymphenburg, instead building castles in the Bavarian countryside (including the iconic Neuschwanstein) at the expense of Munich taxpayers. In 1871, Bavaria became part of the newly united Germany, and overnight Berlin overtook Munich as Germany's power center. Turn-of-the-century Munich was culturally rich, giving birth to the abstract art of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and the Blue Rider group. But this artistic flourishing didn't last long. World War I devastated Munich. Poor, hungry, disillusioned, unemployed Münchners roamed the streets. Extremist from left and right battled for power. In 1918 a huge mob marched to the gates of the Residenz and drove the forgettable King Ludwig III (reigned 1913-1918) - the last Bavarian king - out of the city, ending nearly 700 years of continuous Wittelsbach rule.
Nazis, World War II, and Munich Bombed (1918-1945)
Germany after World War I was in chaos. In quick succession, the prime minister was gunned down, Communists took power, and the army restored the old government. In the hubbub, one fringe group emerged - the Nazi party, headed by the charismatic war veteran Adolf Hitler. Hitler - an Austrian who'd settled in Munich - made stirring speeches in Munich's beer halls (including the Hofbräuhaus) and galvanized the city's disaffected. On November 8-9 1923, the Nazis launched a coup de'état known as the Beer Hall Putsch. They kidnapped the mayor and Hitler led a nob to overthrow the German government in Berlin. The march got as far as Odeonsplatz before Hitler was arrested and sent to prison in nearby Landsberg. Though the Nazis eventually gained power in Berlin, they remembered their roots dubbing Munich "Capital of the Movement." The Nazi headquarters stood near today's obelisk on Brienner Strasse, Dachau was chosen as the regime's first concentration camp, and Odeonsplatz was designated as a place where all who passed by were required to perform the Nazi salute. As World War II drew to a close it was clear the Munich would be destroyed. Hitler did not allow the evacuation of much of the town's portable art treasures and heritage - a mass emptying of churches and civil building would have caused histeria and been a statement of no confidence in his leadership. While museums were closed and emptied over the war years, public buildings were not. Rather than save the treasures, Nazis photographed everything. Munich was indeed pummeled mercilessly by air raids, leveling nearly half the city. What the bombs didn't get was destroyed by 10 years of rain and freezing winters.
Munich Rebuilds (1945-Present)
After the war, with generous American aid, Münchners set to reconstructing their city. During this time, many German cities established commissions to debate their rebuilding strategy: they could restore the old towns, or bulldoze and go modern. While Frankfurt decided to start from scratch (hence its Manhattan-like feel today) Munich voted - by a close margin - to rebuilt its old town. Münchners took care to preserve the original street plan as re-created the medieval steeples, Neo-Gothic facades, and Neoclassical buildings. They blocked off the city center to cars, built the people-friendly U-Bahn system, and opened up Europe's first pedestrian-only zone (Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauser Strasse). Only now, more than 65 years after the last bombs fell, are the restorations (based on those Nazi photographs) finally being wrapped up. The 1972 Olympic Games, featuring a futuristic stadium, a sleek new subway system, and radical-at-the-time pedestrian zones, were to be Munich's postwar statement that it had arrived. However, the Games turned tragic when a Palestinian terrorist group stormed a dormitory and kidnapped and eventually killed 11 Israeli athletes. Berlin is once again the focal point of the country. These days, Munich seems to be comfortable just being itself rather than trying to keep up with Berlin. Today's Munich is rich - home to BMW and Siemens, and a producer of software, books, movies, and the latest fashions. It's consistently voted one of Germany's most livable cities - safe, clean, cultured, a university town, built on a human scale, and close to the beauties of nature.
There's so much to do and see in Munich! Orient yourself in Munich's old center with its colorful pedestrian zones. Immerse yourself in the city's art and history - crown jewels, Baroque theater, Wittelsbach palaces, great paintings, and beautiful parks. The tourist's Munich is circled by a ring road where the old town wall used to stand. Thank goodness for Rick Steves self-guided walks to help us see everything on our bucket list!
We headed out down Elisenstrasse to get to the center of town and passed the Alter Botanischer Garten.
I like that someone took the time to weave through this park bench.
We passed under the Karlstor - one of four main gates of the medieval city wall. It served as a fortification for the defense and is the westernmost of Munich's three remaining gothic town gates: Isartor, Sendlinger Tor, and Karlstor. Traders from Salzburg and Augsburg would enter the town through this gate.
The New Town Hall - my favorite building in the Old City.
The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) dominates Marienplatz. This very Neo-Gothic structure is a fine example of the same Historicism (mixing-and-matching of historical styles) that is seen in nearby Neuschwanstein, London's House of Parliament, Budapest's Parliament, and other buildings of that era. The 40 statues lining the building are note of civic leaders but royals and blue-blooded nobility. Because this building survived the bombs and had a central location it served as a US military headquarters in 1945. The New Town Hall is famous for its glockenspiel - dating from 1908 - which "jousts" daily at 11:00 and 12:00 all year. The Speil has four parts: the wedding procession, the joust, the coppers' dance, and the rooster crowing. It recalls a noble wedding that actually took place here in 1568. We wanted to go up inside the tower for a spectacular view, but it wasn't opened yet. No worries, we got a view, keep reading!
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) was completely destroyed by WWII bombs and later rebuilt. Ludwig IV, and early Wittelsbach who was Holy Roman Emperor back in the 14th century, stands in the center of the facade. He donated this great square to the people.
Right by the New Town Hall is a small fountain, the Fischbrunnen or Fish Fountain. Originally designed by sculptor Konrad Knoll in 1864, the fountain was destroyed during World War II. It was rebuilt in 1954. Fox and Jane had a blast looking at the water.
The oldest church in town, St. Peter's overlooks Marienplatz from its perch near the Viktualienmarkt. It's built on the hill where Munich's original monastic inhabitants settled in 1158 - the city celebrated its 850th birthday in 2008! Outside all around the building are 16th and 17th-century tombstones plastered onto the wall - a reminder that in Napoleonic age the cemeteries surrounding most city churches were (for hygienic and practical reasons) dug up and moved.
View of the Frauenkirche from St. Peter's.
Looking out over the beautiful city of Munich from the top of St. Peter's.
One more of the New Town Hall because I love it so :)
The huge maypole in the center of the Viktaulienmarkt is a tradition.
15th-century town market squares posted a maypole as a practical information post - decorated with various symbols to explain which crafts and merchants were doing business in the market. Munich's maypole shows the city's seven breweries, and the crafts and festivities associated with brewing. The bottom of the pole celebrates the world's oldest food law: a beer-purity law signed in 1487 by Duke Albert IV of Bavaria (beer was liquid food in the Middle Ages).
Past the Viktaulienmarkt stands a modern glass-and-iron building - the former grain exchange - called the Schrannenhalle. Inside is a top notch grocery store and eateries. It wasn't officially opened until 10 so we walked around for 15 minutes or so.
Malm got us some chocolate and then it was on to the next! Fun and done!
My feetsies and Fox's feetsies. Just because.
We parked ourselves on the benches in the courtyard for a cookie break.
In the same square of the synagogue is the Munich City Museum.
We continued through the square, past a fountain, across the street, and one block further.
We came upon the Asam Church.
We weren't able to go inside because it didn't open until 1pm and it was only 10:30 and we had other plans for the day. But I'm sooooooooo sad we didn't go in! Here is a pic from the internet of the innards:
Then we turned left and headed up Sendlingerstrasse. Stopping to enjoy the sweets in the windows and the flowers along the way.
Architecture in Munich. The bottom left looks like an old LDS chapel!
We walked back to Marienplatz then walked down the car-free Kaufingerstrasse which turns into Neuhauserstrasse. It's full of great shopping, cheap department stores, carnivals of street entertainers, and good old-fashioned slicers and dicers. Nearly 9000 shoppers pass along this street EVERY HOUR! We strolled a few blocks until we reached St. Michael's Church.
One of the first great Renaissance buildings north of the Alps, this church has a brilliantly decorated interior. Inspired by the Gesú (the Jesuits' main church in Rome) it was built in the late 1500s as a home to Bavaria's Jesuits (and rebuilt after WWII bombing).
Details of the lovely inside.
The crypt contains 40 stark, somewhat forlorn Wittelsbach royal tombs.
Nothing like the tombs we saw at the crypt of the Kaisergruft in Vienna! Those tombs were crazy huge, ornate, and detailed!
We backtracked a couple blocks and admired more lovely buildings.
Then we came to the Frauenkirche! These twin onion domes are the symbol of the city. Some say Crusaders, inspired by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, brought home the idea. Others say the domes are the inspiration for the characteristic domed church spires marking villages throughout Bavaria.
Outside the cathedral is a model of the Old City. And Jane & Grandma holding hands, so sweet.
We walked through the Aufhauser Passage through a modern building to Promendageplatz. Opposite the huge Hotel Bayerischer Hof (left picture) is a park with a colorful modern memorial.
When Michael Jackson was in town, like many VIPs he'd stay at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Fans would gather in the park waiting for him to appear at his window. He'd sometimes oblige, but his infamous baby-dangling incident happened in Berlin, not here. When he died in 2009 devotees created this memorial below a statue of composer Orlando di Lasso. They still visit daily and keep it tidy. Poor Orlando!
We returned to Kardinal Faulhaberstrasse and walked along this street lined with 18th-century mansions of leading Bavarian families (right picture, two above) that eventually became offices and banks. At building #11 we turned right through the Fünf Höfe Passage - a series of courtyards, exclusive shops, galleries, and restaurants.
In love with this vine-covered building.
A few blocks down along Hofgraben we came to the Platzl.
The heart of medieval Munich - everything here in Platzl was flattened in 1945 and rebuilt in stages: from 1945 to 1950 they removed 12 million TONS of bricks and replaced roofs to make buildings weather tight. From 1950 to 1972 they redid the exteriors. From 1972 to 2000 they refurbished the interiors. Today Platzl hosts a lively mix of places to eat and drink. At the bottom of the square (the center building in the photo below) is the venerable Hofbräuhaus.
We wandered in and around and through the Hofbräuhaus. Biggest restaurant I've ever been to in my life!
Cool place. But we don't drink, so we're missing out on most of the "fun" :)
We walked two blocks up to Maximilianstrasse - this boulevard is known as the home of Munich's most exclusive shops. In 1816 King Ludwig commissioned a stately boulevard with uniform facades in a Neo-Gothic style - Ludwigstrasse, which we saw later. At the beginning of the 1850s, his son Maximilian II commissioned this more-engaging street designed for people and for shopping - not military parades.
The centerpiece of the square is a grand statue of King Maximilian I, aka Max Joseph, who was installed as Bavaria's king in 1806 by Napoleon.
The National Theater (fronting this square, behind the statue), opened in 1818 and celebrates Bavaria's strong culture, roots, and legitimacy.
TOP LEFT: National Theater | TOP RIGHT: What's with the "?" sculpture at Max-Joseph-Platz?
BOTTOM LEFT: Palais Toerring-Jettenbach | BOTTOM RIGHT: Odeonsplatz
The Residenz goes on and on and on!
In 1923 Hitler staged his failed coup, the Beer Hall Putsch, here in Munich. He riled up his followers and was leading them to Odeonsplatz to bring revolution to Germany. His angry parade was stopped by government forces at the square. Sixteen of his followers were killed and Hitler was sent to jail where he wrote down his twisted ideas in Mein Kampf. Ten years later, when Hitler came to power, he made a memorial at Odeonsplatz to "the first martyrs of the Third Reich." Germans were required to raise their arms for the Sieg Heil salute as they passed. People wanting to skirt the indignity of saluting Nazism avoided the monument by detouring down Viscardigasse instead. Today the stream of shiny cobbles recalls their bypass route down this lane. But now that Hitler's odious memorial in Odeonsplatz is long gone, we can continue, Sieg Heil free to Odeonsplatz.
This square is another part of the royal family's grand imperial Munich vision. The church (Theatinerkirche) contains about half of the Wittelsbach tombs. The loggia (pictured above and honoring Bavarian generals) is modeled after the famous Renaissance-style loggia in Florence. Two grand boulevards, Ludwigstrasse and Briennerstrasse, lead away from here.
The Theatinerkirche (Theatine Church of St. Cajetan) is a Catholic built from 1663 to 1690 and founded by Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, as a gesture of thanks for the birth of the long-awaited heir to the Bavarian crown, Prince Max Emanuel, in 1662.
Interior pictures of the Theatine Church. We didn't go down to the crypt, add it to the list of "next time!"
The entrance to the Hofgarten is right by the Odeonsplatz so we ventured inside to see what we could see.
We passed the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (University of Music and Performing Arts Munich) - one of the most respected traditional vocational universities in Germany specializing in music and the performing arts.
First founded in 1846 as a private institute called the Königliches Conservatorium für Musik, it was transformed in 1867 by King Ludwig II into the Königliche Bayerische Musikschule (Royal Bavarian Music School) at the suggestion of Wagner. It was financed privately by Ludwig until it received the status of state institution in 1874. It has since been renamed several times: to the Königliche Akademie der Tonkunst (Royal Academy of the Art of Music), the Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst (State Academy of Music), the Hochschule für Musik (Munich Music College), and finally the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (University of Music and Performing Arts Munich) in 1998. Its original location, the Odeonsgebäude, was destroyed in 1944. The current building was constructed for the Nazi party by Paul Troost; it was called the Führerbau. Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler signed the Munich Agreement in this building in 1938. Hitler's office, on the second floor above the entryway, is now a rehearsal room, but has been changed little since it was built.
Another former Nazi administration building. Looks eerie behind all the trees.
After naps my parents went to the Glyptothek (they're fascinated with all-things Egyptian) while our little family figured out the subway so we could get to the BMW headquarters!
Super bright and colorful ad. | Olympiaturm tower.
BMW-Welt! BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works. Munich is in Bavaria, hence the name and the blue and white checkered symbol - the Bavarian flag.
A brand rich with heritage, an impressive display of futuristic architecture, and an enthusiastic welcome to the public combine to make the headquarters of BMW ("bay-em-VAY" to Germans) one of the top sights in Munich. This vast complex - built on the sight of Munich's first airstrip and home to the BMW factory since 1920 - has four components: the headquarters (in the building nicknamed "the Four Cylinders" (pictured above) - not open to the public), the factory (tourable with advance reservations), the showroom (called BMW-Welt (Welt means world), and the BMW Museum. Phew!
We've been to the Audi headquarters, a VW factory, and now BMW. We're just checking them all out one at a time!
The BMW-Welt building itself, a cloud-shaped, glass-and-steel architectural masterpiece - is reason enough to visit! It's FREE and filled with exhibits designed to enthuse car lovers so they'll find a way to afford a Beamer. There are interactive stations, high-powered videos, an inviting cafeteria, and lots of horsepower. It's also where customers come to pick up their new Beamers and where hopeful customers-to-be come to nurture their automotive dreams.
TOP LEFT: View of BMW-Welt. TOP RIGHT: There was even a little play area for kids.
BOTTOM LEFT: A fancy car, I can't remember what it is. BOTTOM RIGHT: Car with three wheels and you enter in the front! Wacky!
In the futuristic BMW Museum, a bowl-shaped building encloses a world of floating walkways linking exhibits highlighting BMW motorcycle and car design and technology through the years. It traces the BMW history since 1917 when the company began making airplane engines.
Fox and Jane. Being Fox and Jane.
I've always wanted a Z4. A girl can dream right?
There were literally cars driving around inside. Better be careful!
When we were finished at BMW-Welt we walked outside and enjoyed the beautiful spring day.
Whew! What an AMAZING day!