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Alter Hof castle, the residence of the Bavarian royal family since 1253, was built to the northeast of the city so as to protect the Emperor against possible uprisings by the citizens of Munich. The remains of the castle, with its late-Gothic bay window (known as the Affenturm), the gatehouse to the north and the enclosure to the west, form the oldest group of medieval buildings in the city. The buildings have been reconstructed several times, most notably in the 19th Century and after the Second World War.
In 1385 the ruling Wittelsbach family decided to build a new palace since the Alter Hof had become too small for their needs. Today, the former Royal Palace of Wittelsbach is one of the most extensive and recognizable landmarks of Munich. The main building was the first part of the royal residence to be erected. The palace grounds are a treasure chest of historic landmarks including numerous grottoes, courtyards, fountains, a medicine room, chapel and the delightful Wittelsbach fountain built by Duke Otto between 1611 and 1623. The Residenz houses the Crown Jewels, the State Collection of Egyptian Art, the late-baroque Residenz Theatre and the classicist Herkulessaal, a concert hall with amazing acoustics. A magnificent reminder of Germany's past, the Residenz is a spectacular peek into the royal family's lifestyle and cultural influence on the city.
Built according to plans drawn up by Friedrich von Gärtner during 1841-44, the Feldherrenhalle (Field Marshall's Hall) was commissioned by King Ludwig I, who demanded that it be modeled on Florence's Loggia dei Lanzi. The building reflects the transition between the medieval town and the new city of Munich (the present-day Maxvorstadt). The Feldherrenhalle stands above Odeonsplatz and its ground (the piece of land between Theatiner and Residenzstraße), was once occupied by Schwabinger Tor, until it was demolished in 1817. In the 1930s and 1940s, the hall was an important memorial for the Nazis, as it was here that Hitler's attempted putsch came to an end on 9th November 1923. People were compelled to salute and say Sieg Heil whenever they passed by. The tiny alley behind the Feldherrenhalle came to be known as Drückebergergässchen or Shirker's Alley, because those who did not want to salute, would use it as a detour.
Facing Residenz Palace, the Hofgarten (Court Garden) was commissioned by Duke Maximilian I and built between 1613-17. Stroll through this beautiful garden and notice that all of the paths converge on the dodecahedral pavilion in the center, which is crowned by a statue of Diana, one of Bavaria's most recognizable symbols. The Hofgarten is enclosed on two sides by a series of arcades which were originally decorated with murals. The only surviving painting is Peter von Cornelius' fascinating depiction of the story of the Bavarian royal family.
Located in Marienplatz, the heart of Munich, Glockenspiel is a very famous tourist attraction. It is a clockwork structure built in the 19th century and is exactly opposite Café Glockenspiel, which provides a perfect view of the structure. A dance performance is shown which reenacts the tale of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V. The duration of the act relies on the tune played, which is approximately between 10 to 15 minutes. A tiny gilt bird chirps three times to signal the end of the performance. A must see spectacle, when in Munich.
One of Munich's best-known landmarks, the neo-gothic Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) was built during the period of architectural revival in Germany from 1867-1909. Although it is now an unmistakable part of the cityscape, its architectural style is extremely popular and highly discussed even today. The carillon is built into the tower and performs at 11a and 5p every day, with 32 figures portraying a knightly joust and dance. There are additional performances between May and October. The viewing point on the ninth floor can be reached by lift.
Marienplatz has been at the center of the city ever since it was founded by Henry the Lion in 1158. Named after the Marian Column of Mariensaule which was built in 1638 to mark the end of Swedish rule in Germany, the square is one of the most historically rich cultural hubs of the city. Serving as a bustling marketplace in its early days, the square retained its position as the city's social core even after the market was moved. Replete with monuments, Marienplatz is thronged by tourists admiring the intricate 100 meter (300 feet) high Gothic facade of the New Town Hall and the waters of the Fish Fountain. The Marian column forms the centerpiece of the square, with a golden statue of Mother Mary perched on its top.
St Peter's Church, also known fondly as Alter Peter (Old Peter) is the oldest parish church in Munich. The visitor who climbs the 306 steps to the top will have an incomparable view of the city and on a clear day, the Alps look close enough to touch. St. Peter's was named after the old hill on which it stands, the Petersberg. There was a chapel on the site earlier which was then replaced with a Romanesque structure in the 11th Century and later a Gothic building. In the 14th Century, the double-tower was redeveloped to form the single tower facade of the church which remains today. Over the centuries, St. Peter's underwent even more changes, mainly in the Baroque and Rococo periods.
Architecture-lovers can thank Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, wife of Elector Ferdinand Maria, for the construction of Theatinerkirche Sankt Kajetan church, which she was promised in return for the birth of a male successor. Construction of the church was supervised by architect Zucalli and Spinelli, who devised the magnificent baroque dome. The building is dominated by conical towers with bulging spiral roofs. In 1768, the facade was remodeled in the Rococo style by François Cuvilliés the Elder. Faisenberg's carved wooden pulpit is the most striking feature in the pale stone interior.
A beautiful symbol of perseverance, this quiet Baroque church which was built by the Cosmas brothers in the 18th Century has an entrance that is framed by raw rock. Once you enter you may be surprised, for the interior is exquisite. The walls are red stucco and marble which is one reason that this church is regarded as a pioneering example of German late-Baroque architecture. The fresco "Life of Saint Nepomuk" is believed to be one of Cosmas Damian Asam's masterpieces. Unlike other churches, Asam church's altar is in the west. The choir was damaged in 1944 and has since been restored.
Completed in 1901, Müllersches Volksbad is the first public indoor swimming pool in Munich. Architect Karl Hocheder used different styles of Moorish architecture and Roman themes to create this beautiful place. It is the grandest and most expensive pool in the world. This place is open for public use and has a gentleman's pool, a ladies pool, showers, individual baths, a Finnish sauna and steam baths in the renovated structure. One of the best places to enjoy luxurious swimming in Munich.
Munich's showcase boulevard was planned by Leo von Klenze on the orders of Ludwig I, after whom the street was named. Construction began in 1817 and continued until the mid-19th Century under the oversight of master architect Friedrich von Gärtner. The boulevard appears to have been inspired by the Via del Corso in Rome which had made a great impression on Ludwig and Klenze during their travels in Italy. Ludwigstraße begins at the Renaissance-style Feldherrnhalle and continues northwards to the Romanesque Siegestor. Ludwig Maximilian University and St Ludwig's Church are two other highlights; they too display a heavy Italian influence.