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Munich: Neighborhoods in Brief

Altstadt This is the historic part of Munich, the site of the original medieval city. The Altstadt is bounded by the Odeonsplatz and Sendlinger Tor ("Tor" means gate) to the north and the south, respectively, and by the Isartor and Karlstor to the east and west. You can walk across the district in 15 minutes.

The hub is Marienplatz, the town's primary square, with its Rathaus (Town Hall). In the Middle Ages, Marienplatz was the scene of many jousts and tournaments as well as public entertainment like executions. Today, it is brimming with mimes, musicians, and street performers. The square is also the site of many festivals and political rallies and is the traditional stopping and starting place for parades and processions. Included in the Altstadt district is the FussgȨnger (pedestrian) Zone, home to many of Munich's elegant shops.

Haidhausen This district is home to Gasteig, the city's primary cultural, educational, and conference center. The modern complex houses the city library and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Its various theaters and lecture halls play host to a variety of events, principally musical and theatrical performances. The district is also a trendy nightlife center.

Lehel Just east of the Altstadt, this district is part of the original planned expansion of the city that occurred in the latter years of the 19th century. The area is mainly residential and is noted for its fine neo-Renaissance architecture.

Ludwigstrasse One of Munich's great monumental avenues, this street was originally designed for King Ludwig I as a street worthy of his kingdom. The buildings in the southern section of the street adhere to a strict neoclassical style, whereas the architecture in the northern sector is neo-Romanesque. The overall effect is that of uniformity.

Maximilianstrasse The equivalent of New York's Fifth Avenue, Maximilianstrasse is Munich's Golden Mile. Planned as a showcase for King Maximilian II's dominion, it has architecture in what is known as Maximilianic style, an eclectic combination of styles with an emphasis on Gothic. Here you find the city's most elegant and expensive boutiques, restaurants, and hotels. Visitors can browse through stores like Armani, HermȲs, and Bulgari. Along with numerous chic hotels and restaurants, the street is also home to the Museum of Ethnology and the overpowering monument to the king, the Maxmonument. The street is the primary connector from the Altstadt to the suburbs of Lehel and Haidhausen.

Olympiapark Host to rock and pop concerts as well as other performances, this residential and recreational area was the site of the 1972 Olympics, which is remembered for the terrorist attack by the Arab "Black September" group against Israeli athletes. The 1972 Munich Olympic Games were meant to show the world the bold new face of a radically rebuilt Munich, showcasing the premises of the innovative Olympic City. The Black September Arab terrorists, however, had different plans. They managed to slip into the compound housing the Israeli athletes and, before the day was over, had slaughtered a total of 11 of Israel's finest athletes. A storm of protest was raised around the world. The games were virtually ruined, and Munich's bright new image was shattered (their police force seemed to make mistake after mistake); dank memories of the Holocaust were revived at a time when Germany, and Munich specifically, was trying to forget its recent past and show the world that it had moved into a brighter and happier future.

Located northwest of the city center, this enormous development is practically a city unto itself. It has its own post office, railway station, elementary school, and even its own mayor. The top level of the enormous television tower is the best place to view Munich and its vicinity.

Nymphenburg Located just northwest of the city center is the Nymphenburg Palace and Park, the original home of the Wittelsbach rulers. The baroque palace is home to the famous Nymphenburg porcelain museum and factory. Adjoining the palace is a vast expanse of lakes and gardens.

Schwabing This area, in the city's northern sector, was once (in the 1920s and then, again, after World War II and into the 1950s) a center of bohemian life, much like New York's Greenwich Village, and like Greenwich Village, it has gentrified into a locale for lawyers, producers, and other professionals, as well as a hangout for university students and a lively nightlife scene. At the start of the 20th century, it was the place where the city's leading artists, actors, poets, musicians, and writers lived or gathered. Many famous literary figures have called Schwabing home, including Thomas Mann. It has the city's finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Leopoldstrasse makes almost a straight axis through its center. The Englischer Garten forms its eastern border, the Studentenstadt is to its north, and Olympiapark and Josephsplatz mark its western border.

Arabellapark The city's ultramodern commercial and industrial quarter, northeast of the city center, is home to several large international companies. Its glass and concrete buildings have become an outstanding feature of Munich's skyline.

Bogenhausen Located just northeast of the city center and near Arabellapark, this area, like Schwabing, has many excellent examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Once the district where the prosperous had their homes, Bogenhausen is now home to numerous galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.

Briennerstrasse Designed as part of the development of the Maxvorstadt during the reign of Maximilian I, this street was home to the aristocratic families and wealthy citizens of Munich. Today it has galleries and luxury shops.

Maxvorstadt Launched as a planned expansion of the city by King Maximilian I, the area today draws its character from the facilities of the University of Munich, and it teems with student bars, bookshops, and galleries.

Westpark This 71-hectare (175-acre) park, laid out for the fourth International Garden Show, has extensive lawns, playgrounds, and ponds. The park is complete with two beer gardens, several cafes, and a lakeside theater that hosts outdoor concerts in summer. Also located in the park is the Rudi Sedlmayer Sports Hall, one of Munich's premier venues for large rock concerts.

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