Munich Travel Guide


"You do not even go somewhere else, I tell you there's nothing like Munich. Everything else is a waste of time in Germany" —Ernest Hemingway

The year 1158 is the earliest date the city is mentioned in a document signed in Augsburg. By that time, Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a bridge over the river Isar next to a settlement of Benedictine monks. Almost two decades later in 1175 Munich was officially granted city status and received fortification. In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria and Munich was handed over to the Bishop of Freising. The Wittelsbach dynasty would rule Bavaria until 1918. In 1255, when the Duchy of Bavaria was split in two, Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria. In the late 15th century Munich underwent a revival of gothic arts: the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) was enlarged, and Munich's largest Gothic church, the Frauenkirche cathedral, was constructed in only 20 years, starting in 1468.

When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich became its capital. The arts and politics became increasingly influenced by the court, and Munich became a centre of the German counter reformation as well as of renaissance arts. The Catholic League was founded in Munich in 1609. During the Thirty Years' War, Munich became an electoral residence. In 1632 the city was occupied by Swedish King Gustav II Adolph. When the bubonic plague broke out in 1634 and 1635 about a third of the population died.

Under the regency of the Bavarian electors, Munich was an important centre of baroque life. In 1806 the city became the capital of the newly established Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament and the new Archdiocese of Munich and Freising located in the city. Twenty years later, Landshut University was relocated to Munich. Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period and were built under the first three Bavarian kings during the first half of the 19th century. These years were marked by tremendous artistic and cultural activity in Munich.

After World War I the city was at the centre of political unrest. In November 1918 on the eve of revolution, the royal family fled the city. After the murder of the first republican premier of Bavaria in February 1919, the Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed, but it was put down on 3 May 1919 by conservative troops. While the republican government had been restored, Munich subsequently became a hotbed of extremist politics, among which Adolf Hitler and National Socialism rose to prominence. In 1923 Hitler and his supporters, who were then concentrated in Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and seize power. The revolt failed, resulting in Hitler's arrest and the temporary crippling of the Nazi Party, which was virtually unknown inside and outside Munich by then.

The city once again became a Nazi stronghold when the National Socialists took power in Germany in 1933. The National Socialist Workers Party created the first concentration camp at Dachau, 15km (10 mi) north-west of the city. Because of its importance to the rise of National Socialism, Munich was referred to as the "Capital of the Movement" ("Hauptstadt der Bewegung"). Munich was also the base of the White Rose (Weiße Rose), a student resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943. However, the core members—including Hans and Sophie Scholl—were arrested and executed following a distribution of leaflets at the University of Munich. The city was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II, with 90% of the historic city centre and 50% overall destroyed.

After the US occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous plan that preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957 Munich's population passed the one million mark. Munich was the site of the 1972 Olympic Summer Games, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian terrorists in the Munich massacre.


Munich has the strongest economy of any German city, with the lowest unemployment rate. Six out of the 30 companies listed in the German blue-chip stock-market index DAX are headquartered in Munich. This includes luxury car maker BMW, electrical engineering giant Siemens, chip producer Infineon, industrial gas specialist Linde, the world's largest insurance company Allianz, and the world's largest re-insurer Munich Re.

The Munich region is a centre for aerospace, biotechnology, software and service industries. It is home to the aircraft engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines, the aerospace and defence giant EADS, the injection molding machine manufacturer Krauss-Maffei, the truck manufacturer MAN, the camera and lighting manufacturer Arri, lighting giant Osram, and the German and/or European headquarters of many foreign companies like Intel, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and Philip Morris.

As the largest publishing city in Europe, Munich is home to Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's largest and most influential daily newspapers. Germany's largest public broadcasting network, ARD, its largest commercial network, Pro7-Sat1 Media AG, and the Burda publishing group are located in and around Munich.

Munich is a leading centre for science and research, with a long list of Nobel laureates from Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1901 to Theodor Hänsch in 2005. It hosts two world-class research universities (Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität (LMU) and Technische Universität München (TUM)), several colleges and the headquarters, and research facilities for both the Max-Planck and the Fraunhofer Societies. The European Space Agency's Columbus Control Centre, which is used to control the Columbus research laboratory of the International Space Station—as well as one of the two ground control centres for the Galileo satellite navigation system—is located at a large research facility of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) 20km (12 mi) outside Munich in Oberpfaffenhofen.


The people of Munich do not like their city to be associated only as a city of beer and the Oktoberfest, and indeed the Bavarian Kings transformed Munich into a city of arts and science in the 19th century. Its outstanding position among other German cities may have faded a bit, due to Berlin becoming the German capital again in the 1990s; but Munich remains among Germany's top places for art, science and culture.

Munich is internationally known for its collection of ancient, classic and modern art, which can be found in numerous museums throughout the city. Munich's most renowned museums are located in the Kunstareal in Maxvorstadt including Alte Pinakothek (European paintings from the 13th to 18th century), Neue Pinakothek (European paintings from classicism to art nouveau), Pinakothek der Moderne (modern art), Museum Brandhorst (pop art) and Glyptothek (ancient Greek and Roman sculptures).

From the Gothic to the Baroque era, the fine arts were represented in Munich by artists like Cosmas Damian Asam, Egid Quirin Asam, François de Cuvilliés, Johann Michael Fischer, Erasmus Grasser, Ignaz Günther, Hans Krumpper, Jan Polack, Ludwig von Schwanthaler, Johann Baptist Straub, and Johann Baptist Zimmermann. Munich had already become an important place for painters like Lovis Corinth, Wilhelm von Kaulbach, Wilhelm Leibl, Franz von Lenbach, Carl Rottmann, Carl Spitzweg, and Franz von Stuck when Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group of expressionist artists, was established in Munich in 1911. The city was home to the Blue Rider's painters Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, August Macke, Franz Marc, and Gabriele Münter.

Munich was home or host to many famous composers and musicians, including Orlando di Lasso, Gustav Mahler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Orff, Max Reger, Richard Strauss, Carl Richard Wagner, and Maria von Weber. With the Munich Biennale founded by Hans Werner Henze, and the A*DEvantgarde festival, the city still contributes to modern music theatre. The Nationaltheater, where several of Richard Wagner's operas had their premières under the patronage of King Ludwig II, is the home of the world famous Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra. Next door the modern Residenz Theatre was erected in the building that had housed the Cuvilliés Theatre before World War II. Many operas were staged there, including the premiere of Mozart's "Idomeneo" in 1781. The Gärtnerplatz Theatre is a ballet and musical state theatre while another opera house, Prinzregententheater has become the home of the Bavarian Theatre Academy. The modern Gasteig center houses the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. The third orchestra in Munich with international importance is the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which was named the sixth-best orchestra in the world by The Gramophone magazine in 2008. Its primary concert venue is Herkulessaal in the former city royal residence, the Residenz.

Many prominent writers worked in Munich, such as Max Halbe, Paul Heyse, Rainer Maria Rilke and Frank Wedekind. The period immediately before World War I saw economic and cultural prominence for the city. Munich and especially its then suburbs of Schwabing and Maxvorstadt, became the domicile of many artists and writers. Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, who also lived there, wrote ironically in his novella "Gladius Dei" about this period, "Munich shone". It remained a center of cultural life during the Weimar period with figures such as Bertolt Brecht, Oskar Maria Graf and Lion Feuchtwanger.

The Bavaria Film Studios were founded in Geiselgasteig, just outside Munich's city limits, in 1919 by the film producer Peter Ostermayr. Alfred Hitchcock made his first film, "The Pleasure Garden", in Geiselgasteig in 1925. The studios have been used by numerous famous directors, such as Max Ophüls ("Lola Montez", 1954), Stanley Kubrick ("Paths of Glory", 1957), John Huston ("Freud: The Secret Passion", 1960), Robert Siodmak ("L'Affaire Nina B", 1960), Billy Wilder ("One, Two, Three", 1961), John Sturges ("The Great Escape", 1963), Robert Wise ("The Sound of Music", 1965), Mel Stuart ("Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", 1971), Bob Fosse ("Cabaret", 1972), Ingmar Bergman ("The Serpent's Egg", 1977), Robert Aldrich ("Twilight's Last Gleaming", 1977), Wolfgang Petersen ("Enemy Mine", 1985), Claude Chabrol and Wim Wenders. Other famous movies shot at the studios are "Das Boot" (1981), "The Neverending Story" (1984) and "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (2006).

Quality of life

Munich can be consistently found in the top tier of quality-of-life rankings of world cities. Monocle magazine even named it the world's most liveable city in 2010. When Germans are polled about where they would like to live most, Munich finds its way consistently at the top of the list. Within proximity of the Alps, and some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe, it's not surprising that everyone wants to live here. Add to its benefit the beautiful architecture, especially Baroque and Rococo, green countryside which starts a mere half hour away on the S-Bahn, a beautiful urban park called Englischer Garten, two of the best universities in Germany, a booming economy with global headquarters of many world-class companies, modern infrastructure and the greatest beer culture on the planet - could there be anything wrong with Munich? Well, there's a price to pay for living in a city where everyone else wants to be: Munich is the most expensive city in Germany. But all in all, its advantages make a visit more than worthwhile.

People and language

Bavaria has been the long-time antipode of Berlin: While the Protestant Prussian kings focused their energy and resources on building military strength, Bavaria's Catholic Wittelsbach kings were more interested in creating a centre of arts and science following the examples of cities in northern Italy. And even today, Bavaria takes a unique position among the German states with a strong emphasis on its independence, e.g. Bavaria calls itself Freistaat (free state) and has its own conservative party, the CSU, which strongly advocates Bavarian interests in Berlin. Bavaria's transition from an agricultural society to Germany's most successful hi-tech state as well as the dominance of FC Bayern München in German football has further increased the pride of its residents in their state, its traditions and dialect (to a degree considered arrogance by some non-Bavarians).

The residents of Munich, the capital of Bavaria, share a lot of characteristics with the rest of Bavaria and indeed it became popular again among older and younger people to wear traditional Bavarian clothing at least during the Oktoberfest and similar traditional beer festivals. However, the influx of people from the rest of Germany and abroad has also led to some differences. While the rest of Bavaria is a stronghold of conservative Catholicism, Munich has been governed by a liberal coalition of Social-Democrats, Greens and the Rosa Liste (a gay rights party) and only 36.2% of residents are members of the Catholic church while 13.3% are Protestant, 0.3% Jewish and 50.3% are members of other religions including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, or atheists or agnostics.

A stereotypical group strongly associated by many Germans with Munich is the Schwabing Schickeria, characterized by their obsession for social status, luxury brands, expensive restaurants, fast cars, and champagne. The Schickeria has been the subject of 1980s TV Shows Kir Royal and Monaco Franze as well as the movie Rossini – oder die mörderische Frage, wer mit wem schlief. Of course, not all people living in Munich belong to the Schickeria. In fact, most of the people are perfectly normal.

The official language in Munich is, of course, German. With many Munich residents coming from other German regions or from abroad, "Standard German" dominates as spoken language in Munich. Nevertheless, some residents will speak with a more or less strong Bavarian dialect, which can deviate substantially from the German taught at schools. Munich attracts many international tourists and has a large community of non-German speaking professionals working in international companies, universities, research institutions or at the European Patent Office (EPO). Hence, it is not surprising that English is widely spoken and understood throughout the city in restaurants, cafés, tourist attractions, shops as well as most citizens. The exception are Munich's city administration offices where non-English speaking Germans seem to have found a last refuge from globalization.


Munich has a continental climate, strongly modified by the city's altitude and proximity to the northern edge of the Alps; this means that precipitation is high, and rainstorms can come violently and unexpectedly.

Winters last from December to March. Munich experiences cold winters, but heavy rainfall or snowfall is rarely seen in the winter. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of −2.2°C (28.0°F). Snow cover is seen for at least a couple of weeks during winter. Summers in Munich are warm and pleasant, with an average maximum of 23.8°C (73.8°F) in the hottest months. Summers last from May until September.

An oddity of Munich is the föhn wind, a warm and dry down-slope wind from the Alps, which can raise temperatures sharply within a few hours, even in winter, and increases the range of sight to more than 100km (60 mi). These winds are sometimes associated with illnesses ranging from migraines to psychosis. The first clinical review of these effects was published by the Austrian physician Anton Czermak in the 19th century. Residents of Munich sometimes use the Föhn as an excuse for having a bad mood, which should not be taken too seriously.

source: Wikivoyage

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