Capitalise on the capital of Bavaria with a city break in Germany’s third city.
Following on from last week’s blog about the UEFA Champion’s League Quarter Final teams, Atlético Madrid, Man City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have made it through to the last four, with semi-final matches being played late April and early May. With Lisbon’s Benfica trounced by Munich’s Bayern, I thought I’d devote this blog to Germany’s third city.
Capital of Bavaria, Munich is a city where tradition and technology exist in tandem, with popular, long-standing annual events such as Oktoberfest and the festive Christmas Markets doing much to swell the city’s visitor numbers. Yet Munich is also a city of huge corporate and commercial importance, with huge brands such as BMW and Siemens basing their headquarters in the city.
Indeed, the BMW Welt (World) and Museum is a popular tourist attraction in its own right, with a permanent collection showcasing some 90 years of automobile history and housing over 120 of the iconic make’s different models, featuring not just cars, but motorbikes and engines as well. As well as the BMW brand, you’ll also get to see examples of Minis and Rolls Royces, and there’s also the ‘art car collection’, showcasing one of several vehicles designed and decorated by famous names in the art world, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein among them.
Another important commercial avenue for Munich is its publishing and film industries and a visit to the Bavaria Film Studios, one of Europe’s largest film producers, offers an interesting alternative to a Munich city break. If you’re up on your cinematic history, this is where Das Boot and The Never-Ending Story were made. On the sporting side, why not head to Olympiapark, a Munich landmark since the summer Olympics were held there in 1972. It was also in this stadium that Germany won the FIFA World Cup in 1974.
Continuing the footballing theme, the Allianz Arena makes for an interesting visit if you’re mad about the beautiful game. A venue for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, this is also the home ground for FC Bayern Munich as well as TSV 1860 Munich. As well as touring the stadium, you can also pay homage to Munich’s football greats at the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt (Adventure World).
From football to the Frauenkirche, Munich’s distinctive, twin-towered cathedral. Rising 99 metres into the city skyline, the cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II, and was only fully restored in 1994. Marienplatz meanwhile represents the heart of the city, dominated by both the Old and New Town Halls (Neues Rathaus and Altes Rathaus). And if you’re timing is right, look out for the famous 43-bell glockenspiel on the Neues Rathaus, the fourth largest in Europe, with its daily performances at 11am, 12 noon and 5pm.
Munich is also an important city for art, with its three pinakotheks leading the charge on the cultural scene. Perhaps most famous is the Alte Pinakothek (Old Gallery), boasting a fine collection of old masters including works by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael and Dürer. The Neue Pinakothek (New Gallery) meanwhile focuses on European sculpture from the mid-18th century through the early-20th century – 19th-century German paintings featuring most prominently – whilse the Pinakothek der Moderne (Gallery of Modern Art) devotes itself to, unsurprisingly, modern art, applied arts, graphic arts and architecture and is considered one of the foremost museums of its kind worldwide.
Outside of art, the architecturally-resplendent Residenz Palace and Museum claims the title of Munich’s number one visitor attraction, home to Bavaria’s Wittelsbach rulers from 1508 until the First World War. Other museums of note include the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum), offering a fascinating insight into the city’s history, particularly the rise of National Socialism and the Cold War years, the Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum), detailing the long history of Jewish culture in the Bavarian capital, and the Deutsches Museum (German Museum), showcasing a comprehensive survey of science and technology, from prehistoric tools to space-age inventions.
Other Munich highlights include the sprawling Schloss Nymphenburg, built on the western fringes beween the 17th and 19th centuries as a summer palace to the Bavarian royalty. Bigger than London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park meanwhile, Munich’s Englischer Garten (English Garden) is amongst the largest public parks not only in Europe but worldwide. Amongst its many attractions, you’ll find the Kleinhesseloher See (lake) at the centre of the park, a Chinese pagoda standing amidst Munich’s oldest beer garden (one of many in the park), a Japanese teahouse built for the 1972 Olympics, a Greek temple and open-air theatre.
And at the end of a busy day of sightseeing, sample the local ales in one of Munich’s many bierkellers for which the city is so renowned! Prost!