Munich is a modern, cosmopolitan city with a big heart and a long tradition. BMW and beer gardens, culture and the arts and sleepy nooks, baroque and modern architecture. Munich is a city with its own style – all contrast, but no contradictions. The Bavarian capital has so many fantastic attractions that it’s hard to know where to start. So the most important thing to take on a trip to Munich is plenty of time.
Marienplatz square and the Frauenkirche: grandeur and greatness
Marienplatz square is the beating heart of Munich, with its cosmopolitan vibe, hustle and bustle and buildings of historic importance on all sides. The square is dominated by the new and old town halls, and is overlooked by St. Peter’s Church, the oldest church in the old quarter, with the Frauenkirche’s green, onion-shaped domes no more than a stone’s throw away.
The Frauenkirche, or the Church of Our Lady, is the city’s main landmark, not only visually but also acoustically, with its distinctively jubilant bells pealing out their enthusiastic message. This imposing Gothic building has a surprising ‘less is more’ architectural take, with sublime simplicity trumping flamboyant decoration. When believers congregate here, the Devil doesn’t have a chance – even if he did once leave the famous Devil’s footprint in the entrance to the church.
Where gardens are for beer. And the king pronounced most wisely.
Munich may well be blessed with a host of wonderful churches, but its true cathedrals are in the open air. These are the beer gardens, of course, where an eclectic crowd lives life to the full in the shade of ancient chestnut trees. The beer gardens came to be called cellars orkeller – such as in Salvatorkeller, Löwenbräukeller and Hofbräukeller – because the brewers kept their beer underground to keep it cool and soon hit upon the idea of selling it on the spot. This didn’t suit the traditional publicans, who complained to King Ludwig. The king then made a judgement worthy of Solomon: he granted the brewers the right to sell their beer in the gardens, but decreed that no food could be sold. This meant that anybody wanting a hearty snack with their drink would have to bring it along themselves. This was the start of a tradition that still thrives among locals to this day.