Search for München (the German way of writing the name), Bavaria, on the Internet, and you’ll end up with three places: Two are small towns, and the third—Munich—is the third largest city in Germany. The recorded history of Munich goes back to the mid-12th century—from being ruled by bishops it passed to the House of Wittelsbach in 1240 and eventually became the capital of the Bavarian duchy in 1504. Munich has always been prominent. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1759 and, in 1818, Bavaria became the first German state with a written constitution. But it was under Ludwig I (1825-1840) and his two successors, Maximilian II and Ludwig II, that the city really reached its zenith in arts, architecture, academics, music and science. Ludwig I also founded the city’s most enduring legacy, the Oktoberfest, at the site of his wedding to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
Bavaria bonding: (clockwise from above) Munich has it all—from the excitement of a Bayern Munich match (Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters)to shopping at Marienplatz Square (Photographer: Heinz Gebhardt; Owner: München, Tourismusamt) and the famous Oktoberfest (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / AFP).
The 20th century was less glorious. The city came under heavy bombing during both world wars: Indeed, it was dubbed “Capital of the (Nazi) Movement” between 1935 and 1945; it was also the site of a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Since then, though, Munich has made headlines for all the right reasons.
The city that composers such as Mozart, Wagner and Strauss called home is a mecca for Western classical music lovers. Apart from world famous opera houses such as the National Theatre and Prinzregententheater, the city has three fabulous orchestras in the Munich Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra. At the 2010 Opera Festival (28 June-31 July), don’t miss Puccini’s Tosca and Strauss’ Die Schweigsame Frau, among other gems. On 11 July, there will be the Concertante Opera for All, conducted by Kent Nagano on Marstallplatz.
In the art district of Kunstareal, the three “Pinakotheken” galleries (www.pinakothek.de) are devoted to three eras of European art. The Glyptothek houses Greek and Roman sculptures, the Museum Brandhorst showcases works by Andy Warhol, among others, and for science and technology, there’s the Deutsches Museum. Car lovers can drop in at the BMW Museum and the BMW Welt. Don’t miss out on the baroque Nymphenburg Palace and the Residenz Royal Palace. Between February and May, India’s royal treasures, sourced from important Indian and European collections as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum, will be on show at the Kunsthalle as part of the exhibition Maharaja.
And, of course, there’s the 200th edition of Oktoberfest, coming up between 18 September and 3 October.
Besides hosting the Summer Olympics in 1972, Munich was the venue for the final of the football World Cup in 1974—when Germany beat Holland 2-1 to lift the title—and many of the matches in 2006. Local outfit FC Bayern Munich is one of the most successful teams in Europe, and any home match it plays is an event in itself. If you get the opportunity to watch a match—it’s not easy—don’t miss it, even if you aren’t a fan: You won’t regret it. At the very least, do a tour of the Allianz Arena, a state-of-the-art, doughnut-shaped stadium constructed of plastic-foil air panels: In football season, it is lit up in the home team’s colours.
Munich’s proximity to the Alps also makes winter sports such as skiing and ice skating very popular. Not too far from the city is Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, which has a small ski resort that’s perfect for the uninitiated. The more advanced skier may prefer the larger skiing area of Garmisch- Partenkirchen.
FOOD AND DRINK
Munich is paradise for non-vegetarians and beer aficionados. Must-haves include weisswurst, or white sausage, served with sweet mustard and freshly baked pretzels, crispy grilled knuckle of pork served with sauerkraut, and leberkäse, a dish made with pork and beef. Must-try desserts: apfelstrudel, apple strudel with vanilla sauce; millirahmstrudel, a cream cheese strudel; dampfnudeln (yeast dumplings served with custard); and auszogene, a large doughnut-shaped fried pastry.
Among restaurants, try Käfer-Schänke for traditional Bavarian cuisine, Barysphär for the exotic, and Nage und Sauge for a taste of something quirky. Munich also has seven Michelin-starred establishments. If you like doing your own thing, visit Viktualienmarkt, near Marienplatz, for fruits, vegetables, herbs, breads, wine and food from around the world.
And then there’s the beer. Try the beer gardens, open spaces with large benches under chestnut trees that serve a large variety of beers ranging from Weizenbier, or wheat beer, to Starkbier, Munich’s strongest beer.
Information courtesy the German National Tourist Office, India. Click here for more information
3 Things to Do
As told by insider
Constantin Graf von Preysing,
Residential Property Sales
• Schumann’s: The all-time classic hang-out for Munich’s elite. Its owner, the timeless Charles Schumann, rules over this Munich institution, which is the ideal evening location for dinner and drinks.
Odeonsplatz 6+7, Munich, 0049-89-229060, www.schumanns.de
• Nightclubs: The world-famous P1 club still attracts plenty of fans, but the city has a lot more nightlife to offer, so start the club crawl. A new favourite spot is the very 1980s’ Paradiso. For electronic sound and big beats, head to Registratur or the Prinzip.
Paradiso, Rumfordstraße 2, Munich, 0049-89-21269193, www.paradiso-tanzbar.de; Die Registratur, Blumenstr. 28, Munich, 0049-89-23887758, www.dieregistratur.de; Prinzip, Maximilianstraße 29, Munich, 0049-1778354997, www.prinzip-club.de.
• English Garden: The English Garden is one of the biggest inner city parks in the world. Bike through it and stop at one of the two main beer gardens, Chinesischer Turm or Seehaus, to taste the best beer in the world and get a good bite of Bavarian specialities. Another hot spot in the English Garden comes as quite a surprise—an artificial wave that draws surf enthusiasts from all over the world.
Chinesischer Turm, Englischer Garten 3, Munich, 0049-89-38387300, www.chinesischer-turm.de; Seehaus, Kleinhesselohe 3, Munich, 0049-89-38161300, www.kuffler-gastronomie.de