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.
One of the oldest English-style landscape gardens and one of the largest municipal parks in Europe, the Englischer Garten is Munich's most fascinating park. Sprawling across an area of 3.7 square kilometers (1.4 square miles), the park is one of the largest public parks in the world. The park features some of the best architecturally diverse landmarks along its vast verdant expanse and rolling lawns. From a Chinese pagoda with adjoining beer garden, the Monopteros Greek temple to a Japanese Tea House, the park is full of intriguing monuments and landmarks. Artificial streams gush through the park and several surfers can be seen gliding effortlessly through its foamy waters. Housing an artificial lake and an open-air theater, the urban park is one of the best socio-cultural hubs of Munich.
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.
Built for the 1972 Olympic Games, the Olympic complex is now used for a variety of leisure activities ranging from sports events to concerts. The 287-meter (942-foot) high Olympic Tower boasts a stunning view of the city. On a good day, visitors can go up and see as far as the Alps. There is also a rotating restaurant at the top. The famous canopy roof which spans the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Swimming Pool and the Olympiahalle were a topic of debate in their day. The complex is, however, timelessly beautiful and has become an integral part of the modern cityscape. The Olympiaberg (Olympic Hill) is a grassy mound made from Second World War rubble and also provides great views. The ice rink and swimming pool are also popular with sports fans, as is the Olympic Stadium, home to FC Bayern Munich- one of Europe's top football clubs.
One of Bavaria's most renowned pilgrimage sites and also among its oldest monasteries, Andechs Monastery benevolently overlooks the town from its hilltop position. This medieval architectural gem replete with precious religious relics, it offers a glimpse into Bavaria's culture and art. This Benedictine monastery is famous for its beers as well. The visiting times for the church and cellar are different. Guided tours are also available.
Longer than the Palace of Versailles, Schloss Nymphenburg was the impressive summer residence of the Wittelsbachs. One of the most popular attractions in Munich, the palace and its grounds are home to several landmarks showcasing diverse architectural styles. Designed by Italian Baroque architect Augustino Barelli, the palace still preserves its rococo and baroque rooms. The ornate, marble polished Stone Hall is particularly impressive and the famous 'Schönheitengalerie' (Gallery of the Beauties) containing the portraits of 36 local women, is a must see for visitors. A few interesting smaller palaces can be found in the park: the Amalienburg, Pagodenburg and Badenburg. The Marstallmuseum has a comprehensive display of carriages, sleds and crockery, while the Meditationskapelle (Meditation Chapel) with its Magdalenenklause is also worth a visit.
Bavaria's favorite, Munich has an appetite for the good life, effectively led by beer halls in its vibrant Old Town, Bavarian cuisine restaurants, the spirit of Oktoberfest, and a mix of architecture, history and thought-provoking culture. In a city such as this, Munich makes one enjoy the charms of its inherent Bavarian heritage – be it the lederhosen-bearing festivals, or the ever famous Weissbier. But, Munich doesn't rest on its Bavarian attractions, extending its scope to serious musical passions that transcend schuhplattler. Included within this scope are illustrious landmarks that deem it one of Europe's major cultural centers, from the importance of the Nationalteater, to the more urbane Gasteig, home to the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Munich's historic sprawl also explores its royal heritage that comprises of well-preserved baroque residences like the Nymphenburg Palace and Oberschleißheim. At its periphery exists its constantly developing modernity, from hip nightclubs and bars, to trendy cafes.
Referred to as one of the four royal avenues of the city, the street is the brain child of Maximilian II, King of Bavaria. Construction of the street began in 1850. On a trip to Munich, a walk down this avenue of glitter and glamour is a must. Along the Maximilianstraße, you will find stores of some of the biggest names in fashion as well as the city's upscale cafes and eateries. Some of the designer labels you can find here include Chanel, Gucci and Versace.
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.
Located in the heart of the city, the Max Joseph Platz takes its name from King Maximilian Joseph. The National Theatre falls on the east side of the square and Hauptpost occupies its south. The square stands atop an underground parking lot and features a lovely memorial of King Maximilian. The Royal Residence is also located in the same vicinity as the square and it boasts of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neo-Classical styles of architecture.
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.
At Munich's most popular up-scale shopping destination, a walk down the street from the National Theatre, the imposing statue of King Maxmillian II dominates the square. On a marble pedestal, the statue represents the Kings rule over the people of Bavaria represented as bronze figures around the main statues.