Marvel In Munich

Posted on: 23 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Munich somehow manages to combine German efficiency with an Italian lifestyle and the end result is extremely pleasant.


Munich, capital of Bavaria, is widely regarded as Germany at its best.

It’s a happy city full of happy people, overflowing with gemütlich. And why not? They know they’re living in the city that, according to countless international surveys, has the best quality of life in the world.

On the doorstep you have the Alps for skiing in winter; in summer you can enjoy the lakes and cycle paths that wind between pretty neighbouring villages such as Wessling and Seefeld.

The sun shines a lot and the city is clean, safe, historic and darned efficient.

In Munich you’ve got the lot, whether you’re working on a budget of £25 a day or £250. It somehow manages to combine German efficiency with an Italian lifestyle and the end result is extremely pleasant.

2008 Is The 850th Birthday Of Munich  

Munich foodIt was 1158 when Heinrich the Lion built a bridge over the Isar River to guide the Salt Route through what is now the city centre.

To celebrate the city’s rise to its current levels of achievement a huge birthday bash is taking place this summer – a great excuse to visit.

The programme of events includes parties, cultural events and folk art, as well as music, theatre and plays. 

The theme of the birthday is “building bridges” and it aims to connect the founding of the city with today’s lively urban culture. Three major events are the backbone of the knees-up.

You’ve already missed the first – a two day festival in June in the centre with street performers and stalls, but you’re still in time to enjoy plenty more, including the Old Town Ring Road festival which kicks off July 19th–20th.

This is billed as ‘a theatrical, musical and playful journey in time on the Old Town Ring Road’.   Hot on the heels of that is the Isar Bridge festival which takes place August 1st–3rd. With live music, dancing, light shows and a ‘wind installation’, it should be a good, fun event.

No matter when you go this summer there’s something going on, especially on weekends.  Choose from theatre, cabaret, concerts, exhibitions, opera, film, markets and lots more in the city’s various districts.

According to Hedda Manhard from the Munich Tourist Office, “the festivities are very much for the citizens of Munich, though visitors are very welcome to join in.”

Munich musicThis is good news as it’s therefore not likely to be awash with camera-clicking, beer-swilling Brits and Italians, as happens during the Oktoberfest.

Even if your German doesn’t extend beyond ‘zwei bier bitte’, Munich is imminently manageable. English signs are everywhere, from the trams to the galleries, and finding someone who isn’t fluent seems almost impossible.

The public transport system runs like clockwork, but equally it’s a great walking city with most sights within easy walking distance of each other.

Sights

Marienplatz: The most famous square of the city and home to the 19th century town hall, built in flamboyant Gothic style and Munich’s famous Glockenspiel which you can hear chiming away every day at 11am, midday and 5pm.

The Viktualienmarkt: A permanent farmers' market in the centre of town which epitomises the spirit of Munich. A fabulous place to eat and drink the local specialities, and people-watch.

Munich at nightNext door is the fashionable Schrannenhalle - a 150-year-old market hall, demolished in 1914 but rebuilt and reopened in September 2005. An interesting mixture of modern glass and classic cast-iron, it’s a good venue to eat and shop for handmade clothing, soaps and handcrafts. There are also daily concerts (classical, jazz, rock, world) and other cultural events.

The Asam Kirche, Sendlinger Strasse. This 18th-century church is one of the most amazing small buildings in the world. It is easily recognisable from a distance, the statues above the door jutting out into the otherwise ordinary Munich street, but nothing prepares you for the interior. Almost impossible to film or photograph, it is dark, sinister and wildly baroque, full of optical illusions, the decoration covering every square inch of every surface.

The Amalienburg is another of the world's great small buildings, built in the same year as the Asam Kirche (1732) but in a very different style: light, airy and Rococo. The Electress Amalia's hunting lodge has a domed central room, vast silver-gilt mirrors and crystal chandeliers. It’s interesting, elegant and well worth a visit.

The Deutsches Museum is an amazing place, but be prepared to spend at least half a day - it's huge with a decent cafe and shop selling unusual gifts. There is an incredible aircraft section with unusual exhibits such as a very early jet fighter and a V2 rocket. Good for the chaps.

The twin-domed Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) is the symbol of Munich. It was built between the 15th and 16th centuries and its vast interior is worth a look. Ascend its 100-metre tower for stupendous views over the city.

Englischer Garten, off Prinzregentstraße. OK – so you’ve had enough of the museums, and you’ve seen enough beautiful churches and interesting monuments to last you a lifetime, so take a stroll in the park. What’s that - a naked granny? Well, could well be. Munich’s Englischer Garten is home to one of Europe’s largest urban naked sunbathing colonies. It’s a beautiful park, clothes off or on.

Shopping

  • Ed Meier, Residenzstrasse – Loden, hand-made shoes, all the quality country clothing you associate with Bavaria at its very best. Deep pockets required.
  • Eclipsing Fortnum & Mason’s Foodhall, see Dallmayr on Dienerstrasse. Simply one of the most spectacular Delis in the world.
  • Manufactum - 12 Dienerstrasse. Right next to Dallmayr is the local branch of Germany's most cultish chain store (other branches in Berlin and Hamburg). This stylish outlet morphs from copper pans to hand made shoes to old fashioned bicycles and garden tools. Fabulous deli and café available at the front.
  • Ludwig Beck – Classy Harrods-style department store on Marienplatz.

Food & Drink

You can’t go far wrong in Munich, but for one you wouldn’t want to miss The Brenner Grill on Maximilanstrasse. Fabulous charcoal grilled meat and pasta, beautiful people, buzzing atmosphere.

Not many visitors know that you can take your own food to any beer garden and enjoy a picnic of your own devising. It’s a great way to save some money, and enjoy some of the food from the excellent local delis such as Dallmayr or from the plethora of stalls in the Viktualienmarkt. The only obligation is to buy drinks from the beer garden.

Getting There 

EasyJet flies to Munich from Edinburgh and London Stansted with prices from £25.99 one-way (including taxes) and return from £45.98 (including taxes).  To book log onto www.easyJet.com

Links

German Tourist Office: 020-7317 0908 or visit www.germany-tourism.co.uk

Munich Tourist Board: www.muenchen-tourist.de.

By Katie Wood

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