Friday, December 30, 2011

Munich, Germany

Our flight to Malta included a five hour layover in Munich. Since the city center is small and walkable we decided to ditch the airport, catch the S-Bahn, and spend a few hours in old town. With only a few hours to kill we stayed in the center and soaked up the local atmosphere. However, a return visit is definitely in order to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, Lake Starnberg and Dachau Concentration Camp. Of course, a visit to the Hofbräuhaus during Oktoberfest is almost mandatory.

München has been the capital of Bavaria since 1506 and is Germany's 3rd largest city after Berlin and Hamburg. Not far from the Bavarian Alps, the city is home to roughly 1.35 million people. During the war the city was heavily damaged by 71 air raids over a six year period. Today it's a big, modern city but it still has a bit of a small town feel to it.

Munich was originally surrounded by a wall with four gates, of which three remain. Isartor is the most eastern gate and dates back to the 14th century.

Marianplatz has been the main city square since 1158. There's a Virgin Mary column in the center that was erected in 1638 to commemorate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years' War.

The Rathaus is the new town hall. It was built from 1867 to 1909.

The Altes Rathaus was the old town hall until 1874.

Frauenkirche is the Church of Our Lady Cathedral and it dominates the city skyline. It dates back to the 15th century and apparently inside there is artwork that spans 500 years.

Peterskirche is the Church of St. Peter. It's the city's oldest parish church and is referred to as Alter Peter (Old Peter). It takes a bit of time to climb up the 306 steps to get to the top but you get a great view of the city.

For 500 years the Residenz used to be the royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs. Today it is the largest city palace in Germany and has 10 courtyards. A visit to the 130 rooms filled with furniture, oil paintings and tapestries, kind of an interior decor museum, will have to take place next time.

Olympiaturm is the Olympic tower that was built for the 1972 games. At 291 meters (951 feet) it is Germany's tallest television tower.

The Hofbräuhaus has been around since 1644. It's probably the most famous beer hall in the world.

A return visit is definitely in order. You just have to love a city where the police cars are BMWs and the taxi cabs are made by Mercedes.

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