Show me more of Munich please….
We saw a bit of Munich’s altstadt (translation = old town) when we arrived on Sunday and thought we’d use today to see a bit more of the city. Like most touristy destinations they have a “Hop-on/Hop-off” bus here that you can use to get around to all the major sights. So we bought our ticket and started hopping around to do a bit of this…
The bus took us around the altstadt first, past some of the oldest parts of Munich. We stopped here to take a closer look at the Marienplatz (translation = St Mary’s Square/Place) and the Neues Rathaus (translation = New Town Hall). Marienplatz is the central square and the heart of old Munich; the square is dominated by the immense Neues Rathaus, which was built in 1867 to replace the old, then over-crowded Altes Rathaus (translation = Old Town Hall). The intricately carved exterior of Munich’s New Town Hall really is a spectacular sight and is understandably one of the city’s main tourist attractions (the square was PACKED today) – especially at midday when the Glockenspiel clock chimes and the 32 life-sized figures perform their little dance.
From Marienplatz we went through Isartor, one of the original 4 gates that used to mark the entrance into medieval Munich, to Max Joseph Platz – another large square, this time named after King Maximilian Joseph, who was king of Bavaria in the early 1800’s and was a very popular king by all accounts (mainly due to his liberal support of art, theatre and science). Max Joseph Platz is dominated on one side by the National Theatre of Bavaria and the Residenz – once the Winter Palace of Bavarian Royalty and now a museum of some repute. We stopped just long enough at Max Joseph Platz to grab some photos before hopping back on the bus and heading out of the altstadt.
Our tour then took us over the Isar River, Munich’s central waterway, and over to the posh residential areas of Haidhausen and Bogenhausen on the Eastern side of Munich. Here we saw the Friedens Engel (translation = Freedom Angel), erected after the 1870-1871 Franco-German war.
Back across the river we drove past the Englischer Garten (translation = English Garden), a 900 acre public park built in 1789 and landscaped “in the English style” (i.e. lots of grass, ponds, man-made streams and flowers). We stopped at the English Garden for some lunch and a stroll – very pleasant indeed. We even stopped to watch the surfers for a while (at the mouth of the artificial stream that runs through the Englischer Garten, there is a standing wave produced by the water pumping mechanism; surfers attempt to surf on this standing wave). Other highlights of the English Garden, were:
- The Chinese Tower and its huge beer garden, which seats 7,000 people!
- The Japanese Teahouse, where you can apparently take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony on the weekend.
- Monopteros, a Greek style temple.
- Schönfeldwiese, the lawn where nude sunbathing is allowed since the 1960’s (not sure if seeing lots of fat ugly naked Germans sunbathing nude is really a highlight, but anyway).
After lunch we hopped back on our bus and went past the Bavarian National Museum, the Alte Pinakotheken (translation = Old Art Museum), and the Neue Pinakotheken (translation = New Art Museum). We also visited Konigsplatz (translation = King’s Place); built under orders of King Ludwig I in 1816 the square the heart of Munich’s arts and museum district.
From the Konigsplatz we went out to Schloss Nymphenburg (translation = The Nymph’s Palace). Just a little way out of the city, this used to be the main Summer palace of the Bavarian royal family. The palace is still owned by the Wittelsbach family today, though the Duke and his family only occupy one small pavilion now (the Wittelsbach’s ruled Bavaria from 1108 to 1918, when the sovereignty of the royal family was no longer recognised). The rest of the palace is open to the public as a museum. We’re a little palaced out after yesterday so gave this one a miss, though we did enjoy the palace gardens.