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Munich: Walking Tour 2

Exploring West of Marienplatz

Start: Marienplatz.

Finish: Mɒnchner Stadtmuseum.

Time: 2 hours, not counting shopping or any visits inside places mentioned here.

Best Times: Daylight hours during clement weather.

Worst Times: Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 9am and 4:30 to 6pm, because of heavy traffic.

Those walkers with more time who would like a more penetrating look at the Altstadt (Old Town) can take yet a second tour, this one lying west of the heart of Munich, the Marienplatz. Among other attractions, such as monuments and fountains, this tour passes by some of Munich's best-known churches.

To reach the starting point of this walking tour from the Marienplatz, walk west down the shop-lined Koffingerstrasse to Liebfrauenstrasse and past the Frauenkirche (visited on the previous tour) and continue west to:

1. Michaelskirche (St. Michael's)

This is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. The ruler, Duke William "the Pious" (1583-97), made the church the spiritual center of the Counter-Reformation. Resting under a barrel-vaulted roof, which is the second largest in the world after St. Peter's in Rome, the church, completed in 1597 (architect unknown), houses the tomb of King Ludwig II and other Wittelsbach rulers. The facade is graced with a large sculpture of the Archangel Michael, a splendid bronze figure made by Hubert Gerhard in 1588.

Continue west on Neuhauserstrasse to the:

2. Richard Strauss Fountain

The fountain's central column has scenes from Strauss's Salome (1905) interpreted, with flair, in bas-relief.

Then, continue west on Neuhauserstrasse to the:

3. Bɒrgersaal

Dating from 1710, this "Citizens' Hall" was the meeting place and house of worship for the Marian Congregation, a branch under the Jesuits. Designed by the architect Giovanni Antonio Viscardi, the hall became a fully consecrated church in 1778 but was mostly destroyed by Allied air raids in World War II. Immediately rebuilt in 1945 and 1946, it looks like it used to, and many visitors assume it is much older. The facade, with its double pilasters, is the original, as is the figure of Madonna and Child on a crescent moon seen in the double staircase. The Bɒrgersaal also has a lower floor, containing the tomb of Rupert Mayer (1876-1945), a Jesuit who bravely resisted the Nazi regime. Many Jews from all over the world come here to pay their respects to this famous Jesuit.

Continue to the end of the pedestrian mall, where you'll see the fountain of the little boy at the medieval Karlstor. You've come to the:

4. Stachus (Karlsplatz)

This is a busy intersection that was designed and constructed when the old town walls of Munich were demolished in 1791. The official name of the new square was to be Karlsplatz, named in honor of the Elector Karl Theodor. Because he was viewed as an unfair ruler, however, the townspeople defiantly refused to call the square Karlsplatz. Instead, they came up with the nickname "Stachus." The exact meaning has never been officially established, and no one seems to agree. "Stachus" might have referred to a local eatery that stood on this square in the 18th century, or the word could even refer to a marksman who practiced nearby.

Diagonally and to the right is the 19th-century Palace of Justice. Directly in front of you, at a distance, is the main train station. Now turn 180 degrees and walk back to the Richard Strauss fountain. You will enjoy one of the finest views in Munich as the silhouette and facade of St. Michael's Church appears before you on the skyline. Turn right at Eisenmannstrasse and head for:

5. St.-Anna-Damenstift

This beautiful late-baroque church on the corner was once attached to a convent and is today a secondary school for girls. The architect, Johann Baptist Gunetzhainer, constructed the church between 1732 and 1735, and the Asam brothers, Egid Quirin and Cosmas Damian, did notable stucco and fresco work inside. Destroyed in part by World War II bombs, the church was reconstructed in its original style in the early 1950s. Miraculously, the facade you see today escaped the bombing unscathed, although most of the rest of the building was demolished. Amidst the debris of war, many statues and figures were discovered that were incorporated into the reconstructed altars, giving them an antique look.

The street name changes to Damenstiftstrasse as you go south for the duration of the block and you pass number 4, a pretty old house, and the 18th-century Palais Lerchenfeld. Although we've not made a turn, the street is now named Kreuzstrasse, home of the:

6. Allerheiligenkirche am Kreuz

Jorg von Halspach, popularly known as Ganghofer, not only designed the more famous Frauenkirche, but also created this parish church in 1478. Today, its parishioners are primarily Ukrainian Catholics. In 1620, the church received a heavy baroque overlay, and many major artists from the 17th century contributed to its present look, including Johan Rottenhammer, who painted The Madonna Appearing Before St. Augustine on the High Altar.

Continue directly south along Kreuzstrasse until you come to the junction with Herzog-Wilhelm-Strasse. Across this street lies:

7. Sendlingertorplatz

The Sendlinger Tor, once a medieval fortification, was built in 1318, about the same time as the Karlstor (one of the town gates to the Altstadt, or Old Town). The two side towers of the gates are the only visible remains.

Sendlinger Strasse, a lengthy, brightly colored avenue of small commercial outlets, leads back into the center. However, before you get there (walking northeast), stand back on the right side of the street admiring the facade of the:

8. Asamkirche

The Asam brothers created this church building in 1746 as a sort of monument to themselves. Be sure to step inside to see the extravagant Bavarian rococo interior, courtesy of Egid Quirin Asam, along with frescoes and paintings by his brother, Cosmas Damian. A figure of St. John of Nepomuk, to whom the building is dedicated, is above the door. Next door to the church is the Asam brothers' private house; note the graceful facade with its many allusions to art and poetry.

After viewing Asamkirche, continue northeast along Sendlinger Strasse, taking the second right southeast along Dultstrasse, cross the Oberanger Rinder, and head into St.-Jakobs-Platz, where you'll see the:

9. Ignaz-Gɒnther-Haus

This memorial house is a tribute to the 18th-century Bavarian rococo artist who lived and worked out of the edifice during his lifetime. Restoration was completed in 1977, and the Mɒnchner Stadtmuseum now maintains it. The Madonna out front is a Gɒnther replica, and an exhibit inside displays some of his other works.

On the same block is the:

10. Mɒnchner Stadtmuseum

Housed in the old, 15th-century city arsenal, this museum is turreted in front. Exhibits vary seasonally, often featuring one of the countless local artists in Munich's cultural history.

Winding Down

You've finished! If you want to take a break, continue down the street, veering left into Sebastiansplatz, and admire the old houses lining the street. Exit the Sebastiansplatz from its eastern edge and walk for 3 blocks along the meandering length of the PrȨlat-Zistl-Strasse until you reach the Viktualienmarkt. The Mɒnchner Suppenkɒche (no phone) is a Munich legend, a true "soup kitchen" at what is called "the stomach of the city." On the coldest days, join the Mɒnchners devouring hearty soups such as Gulaschsuppe (goulash soup), sausage and sauerkraut, and Krustis (sandwiches). Or buy some bread and fruit at one of the many stands, sit back, and enjoy the fountains and statues that surround you.

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