The capital of Bavaria, Munich lies on the River Isar on the outskirts of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is also known for its seasonal festivals like Oktoberfest, its Museums, Churches and nearby Palaces. The central point of Munich's historic centre is the Marienplatz, where you will find markets and jousting tournaments, however it is best known for the annual Christmas Markets. The Marienplatz is dominated by the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) with its elaborate Glockenspiel Cuckoo Clock and carousel of figures that dance at 11:00am, noon and 17:00pm (March-October).
For all you car enthusiasts, The BMW Museum at Olympic Park is where you will find the headquarters and factories of this famous car brand. Car fanatics will find examples of nearly all the models the company has made including sports cars, racing models and motorcycles. Olympic Park was home to the 1972 Summer Olympics and now a major recreational centre. It is home to the summer Tollwood Festival and also home to the Oktoberfest.
The famous 16th Century Hofbräuhaus offers the quintessential German Beer Hall experience complete with a live brass band. However, Oktoberfest rules apply with no service without a seat. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Munich and can take over 45 minutes to find a table and get a beer.
The Viktualienmarkt is a 22,000 sq. metre farmers market that includes a butchers' hall, bakery, fish hall and flower market in addition to its fruit and vegetable vendors. Anything you want you can find here.
One of the most impressive 1862 Neoclassical buildings of Königsplatz is the Glyptothek. This beautiful building claims to be the only Museum in the world dedicated solely to ancient sculpture. Visitors can wander around the exhibits and get up close with the art, which is openly laid out rather than hidden away behind glass. Others to visit are the Pinakothek Art Galleries, the Old (Alte) Picture Gallery and the New (Neue) Picture Gallery as well as the State Gallery of Modern Art (Pinakothek der Moderne) including works by Picasso and Warhol. The Deutsches Museum is the world's largest museum of technology and has over 17,000 artifacts. There are extensive collections relating to transport including trains, aircraft, ships and cars. You can see a replica of the Red Baron's biplane from the First World War, a Venetian Gondola and a 19th Century wooden fishing boat.
There are many Churches worth visiting including the 1386 Gothic Peterskirche (St. Peters Church), the oldest parish Church, which stands on Petersburg, a small hill originally settled by monks. The Frauenkirche or Cathedral Church of Our Lady, completed in 1488, this late Gothic Church owes its impact to its great size and two iconic onion domes. The Cathedral includes the 1622 Tomb of the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in black marble with bronze figures, a 1620 altarpiece of the Assumption by Peter Candid and the Baroque red marble font in the Baptistery with its early 14th Century Sorrowing Christ. The Michaelskirche (St. Michael's Church) is the largest Renaissance Church north of the Alps. Completed in 1597 with a high barrel vaulted roof in the nave and a three story high altar and an altarpiece, St. Michael Fighting the Devil, from 1587.
For centuries the seat of the Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria, has been the Munich Residenz, one of Europe's most spectacular Palaces. Set out around seven large courts, the vast Residenz complex comprises of three main sections; the Königsbau, fronting onto Max Joseph Platz; the Alte Residenz, facing Residenzstrasse and the Festsaalbau (Banqueting Hall), that overlooks the Hofgarten. The Residenz houses a number of monuments and museums, including the Residenz Museum, the Treasury and the Cuvilliés-Theater.
Sitting just on the outskirts of the city is the Baroque style Nymphenburg Palace with its beautiful gardens and grand rooms. The Palace extends more than 600 metres from wing to wing and is surrounded by the Nymphenburg Canal, which splits as it passes around the main buildings before reuniting again in a fountain adorned pool in front of the main façade.
Also, not far from Munich are two of King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s most famous and recognised castles. The most famous would be the Neo-Romanesque Neuschwanstein, built in the late 19th Century. It was inspired by Walt Disney’s famous theme park castles and the inside is extravagantly decorated in themes from opera and romantic literature. Linderhof Palace is another of King Ludwig II’s favourite castles. Set amongst wooded hills it was originally built as a hunting lodge in 1878. The Palace halls and rooms are elegantly furnished and a focal point of any visit would be the Hall of Mirrors, the Eastern and Western Tapestry Chambers with their rich wall hangings and the Audience Chamber. The park has elaborate fountains including the wonderful Venus Grotto, Ludwig's manmade version of Capri's famous Blue Grotto.
Other places to visit are the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site just 17 kms northwest of Munich. The town of Dachau is famous for its 18th Century Schloss and infamous as the location of the notorious Dachau concentration camp, where some 41,000 people died during Nazi rule. It now stands as a memorial site, housing a museum with artifacts and documents from this dark period in Germany's history. Another popular attraction is Berchtesgaden and Eagle's Nest. The attractive town of Berchtesgaden is surrounded by mountains that rise steeply from the shores of the nearby Königssee. In the town itself, the main attraction is the Palace of the Wittelsbach Dynasty, formerly a property of the Augustinians and dating from the 1100’s. However, the main reason tourists visit is the Eagle’s Nest, the mountain refuge built by Hitler on Mt. Kehlstein. Along with Hitler's lodge, where original features, such as a mantelpiece presented to Hitler by Mussolini can be seen, the summit provides spectacular views of the Bavarian Alps.
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