World ? Europe ? Germany ? Munich

Munich: Attractions

Munich is a city of art and culture, with innumerable monuments and more museums than any other German city. In quality, its collections surpass those of Berlin. The Wittelsbachs (the ruling family of Europe from approximately the 13th to early 20th c.) were great collectors -- some say pillagers -- and left behind a city full of treasures.

Go to Munich to have fun and to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle, friendly ambience, and wealth of activities, sightseeing, and cultural events. Munich is stocked with so many treasures that any visitor who plans to "do" the city in a day or two will not only miss out on many major sights, but also fail to grasp the city's spirit and absorb its special flavor.

Exploring the City Center

Marienplatz, dedicated to the patron of the city, whose golden statue atop a huge column (the MariensȨule) stands in the center of the square, is the heart of the Altstadt, or Old City. On its north side is the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), built in 19th-century Gothic style. Each day at 11am, and also at noon and 5pm in the summer, the glockenspiel on the facade stages an elaborate performance, including a miniature tournament, with enameled copper figures moving in and out of the archways. Since you're already at the Rathaus, you may wish to climb the 55 steps to the top of its tower (an elevator is available) for a good overall view of the city center. Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), with its plain Gothic tower, is to the right. It was reconstructed in the 15th century, after being destroyed by fire.

South of the square you can see the oldest church in Munich, Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). The Viktualienmarkt, just off Marienplatz and around the corner from St. Peter's church, has been a gathering place since 1807. Here, people gossip, browse, snack, and buy fresh country produce, wines, meats, and cheese.

To the north lies Odeonsplatz, Munich's most beautiful square. The Residenz (Royal Palace) is just to the east, and the Theatinerkirche is to the south. Adjoining the Residenz is the restored Nationaltheater, home of the acclaimed Bavarian State Opera and Bavarian National Ballet.

Running west from Odeonsplatz is the wide shopping avenue, Briennerstrasse, leading to KɆnigsplatz. Flanking this large Grecian square are three classical buildings constructed by Ludwig I -- the PropylȨen, the Glyptothek, and the Antikensammlungen. The busy Ludwigstrasse runs north from Odeonsplatz to the section of Munich known as Schwabing. This is the Greenwich Village or Latin Quarter of Munich, proud of its artistic and literary heritage. Ibsen and Rilke lived here, as well as members of the Blue Rider group, which influenced abstract art in the early 20th century. Today, Schwabing's sidewalk tables are filled with young people from all over the world.

Isartor (Isar Gate) is one of the most-photographed Munich landmarks. It's located east of Marienplatz at Isartorplatz. Take the S-Bahn to Isartor. This is the only tower left from the wall that once encircled Munich, forming part of the city's fortifications against invaders.

The other major gate of Munich is the Karlstor, once known as Neuhauser Tor, lying northeast of Karlsplatz (nicknamed Stachus). Take Tram 18 to Karlsplatz. Karlstor lies at the end of Neuhauser Strasse, which formed part of the town's second circuit of walls, dating from the 1500s. The Karlstor takes its official name from Elector of Bavaria Karl Theodor, who had the Karlsplatz laid out and also commissioned to alter the gate. The Karlstor, built in 1302, lost its main tower in an 1857 explosion.

Saving on Sightseeing

  • Visit the Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, Glyptothek, Antikensammlungen, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, or Mɒnchner Stadtmuseum on Sunday -- when admission to the permanent exhibitions is free (but you'll have to brave the crowds).

  • Buy combination tickets wherever possible, such as the combination ticket for the Alte Pinakothek and the Neue Pinakothek costing 12€ ($14) adults, 7€ ($8) students and seniors, good for 1 day and cheaper than buying a separate ticket for each.

  • Note that some museums and attractions, such as the Deutsches Museum, the Mɒnchner Stadtmuseum, and the BMW Museum, offer a family ticket that's cheaper than buying individual tickets for adults and children.

  • If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing using public transportation, buy the 1- or 3-day Munich Welcome Card, allowing unlimited travel and discounts of up to 50% on selected sights. A single-person card for the inner core of Munich is 7.50€ ($9) for 1 day or 18€ ($21) for 3 days. For 32€ ($38), you can buy a 3-day card for the total area of Greater Munich, including the lakes of Starnbergersee and Ammersee and the Dachau concentration camp. The Munich Welcome Card is available at the Munich Tourist Office branches located at the Hauptbahnhof (Munich's main rail station) and the Neues Rathaus (Town Hall); at the tourist information center of the Munich International Airport; at the MVG transportation service centers located at Marienplatz and Poccistrasse 1-3; and at several other sites.

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