Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria and located on the beautiful and gentle River Isar. Munich is derived from the word munchen (meaning “near the monks place”). It was the Benedictine monks who founded the city in 1158 and thus the monk image on the city’s coat of arms. By many European standards it is a relatively young city.
For all its youthfulness, the city is a marvellous place to see many of Europe’s architectural masterpieces. What is also amazing, and thankfully so, is how many buildings and monuments survived the ravages of bombing and house-to-house fighting of World War II. Of course many were rebuilt including the city centre. The inner city looks the same as it did during the early 19th century.
Besides the architecture there is much that Munich has retained especially a gentle, warm, friendly and old-world atmosphere. It also has a vibrant and world exciting cultural scene. As a world city Munich is the base for many multi-national companies across a broad range of industries including being a financial and publishing centre. It is also a centre for engineering, research, studies (two universities) and museums. Oh yes! Its staid and proper image disappears during the annual Oktoberfest!
The Residence was originally a palace and now an important museum. For five hundred years its 130 rooms were the seat of Bavarian kings and dukes. Some of its highlights include the portrait gallery, classic apartments, the Antiquarium: a large and most beautiful Renaissance hall.
The Residence has large sections of unique and fabulous gold works dating from the Middle Ages. There are numerous pieces made from crystal, ivory and precious gems. Two outstanding pieces are a statuette of St. George and the Gisela Cross.
Home to the Wittelsbach rulers, this baroque palace has sumptuous interior decorations of which the Gallery of Beauties stands out. Then there is the banquet hall with its Zimmerman decorated ceiling. The palace is a series of beautifully symmetrical buildings that contain many finely crafted works. It also houses the Marstallmuseum, the Porcelain Museum and a landscaped park and Botanical Gardens.
One of Badenburg’s claims to fame is its heated indoor bathing pool – the first of its kind in the world. The pool and pavilion adjoins a beautiful stucco marble hall built in 1719.
For over a century this has been one of the finest science and technological museums in the world. Covering 50,000 square metres it is also the largest of its kind. It houses an amazing array of sailing ships, models of atoms, windmills, space probes, diesel locomotives, industrial robots, organs, and lifeboats. The museum also houses all kinds of vehicles – from a Formula 1 car to a bicycle. The Flugwerft section focuses on airplanes.
Around 1.3 million people visit the museum every year.
In the heart of Munich city is a large open square, the Marienplatz. The square is named after an imposing column that stands at its centre. At the top of the column stands a statute of the Virgin Mary. The square also contains two impressive buildings, the Old and New Town Halls. Three gates of the medieval fort that once stood there still remain. The square was once the site for jousting tournaments and markets.
A futuristic bowl, shimmering and shining, the BMW Museum contains exhibits of pioneering technological and engineering achievements. The museum also highlights prototypes of cars, motorcycles and alternative and innovative propulsion methods.
The arena dominates Munich’s northern landscape. It is the first stadium that changes colour. This arena (also known as the inflatable raft) seats about 69,000 spectators.
This beer drinking tradition first started as celebrations to mark the end of annual horse races presided over by the Bavarian Royal Family. Today it is a 16 day long orgy of beer-binging, called “die Wiesn” by Munich locals. It has become an integral and world famous part of the Bavarian cultural landscape. The ‘fest’ has been held since 1810. In those 200 it has only been cancelled 24 times – that too because of cholera outbreaks and war!
The 2013 edition will begin on 21st September and run till 6th October.