Flossfahrt (Raft) and Bike Trip
28 to 30 June, 2019
It’s a Floss-what? Well it is a raft trip, but probably not like any one you’ve ever been on. It is NOT white water rafting…the only “white caps” are beer foam.
PSC takes us to our hotel right in downtown Munich where we spend two nights. That is reason enough to go on this trip but on Sunday after breakfast, we head south out of Munich to the Isar River where our Bavarian hosts have pegged a large raft together and hand us our souvenir Flossfahrt beer mug as we board. Within minutes they’ll tap the first of the three 50 liter kegs on board, launch the boat and strike up the band—yes there is really a band on board– and we float and fest our way back into Munich. Truly a day you’ll never forget—well if you can remember all of it 😉
1/2 double: 295€*
Single room: 365€*
*Includes 15€ for a 24hr Bike rental
INCLUDED IN PRICE:
- PSC Transportation to/from Stuttgart
- 2 Night lodging
- 2 light breakfasts
- The Flossfarth with a band
- All you can drink in the raft
- Lunch at the Mühltahl
- Souvenir Beer Mug
- PSC Bus Transportation to Flossfarth
- 24 hours bike rental
About the Raft (Flossfahrt)
River rafting in Bavaria has a long history dating back to the 12th century. It was the main mode of transportation for goods and people. In those times a trip on the river Isar could take you as far as Vienna or Budapest. Starting from the 19th century these rafts became a tourist attraction. Nowadays it is a great summer activity. The ride starts in Wolfratshausen, on the outskirts of Munich, and ends in München-Thalkirchen.
This trip is not only about a nice way to spend a day on water, but also entertainment. As you travel down the Isar river accompanied by musicians, beer, and snacks you also discover the Bavarian lifestyle in the completely new way. You can sing, dance, or just enjoy the landscapes on your way. The raft itself looks just the same as it did hundreds of years ago—a huge 18-ton wooden platform made of logs held together with cables. The raft is controlled by two paddlers in the front and in back. The knowledge of making and operating such vessels was passed from generation to generation, thus only a few families nowadays continue this tradition. The whole journey takes about 6 hours and is 30 km and includes 3 raft slides with an elevation difference from 9 to 18 metres. One of the slides is the longest in Europe. But generally, it is more about fun and enjoying the day with a stop for lunch among nature, good music, and beer.
About exploring Munich by bike
One of the best ways to explore Munich is by bike. Diversity is what makes the city so special; there are sprawling parks, elegant plazas, meandering riverbanks, beer gardens and winding medieval alleyways. There’s even a surfing spot. And what binds everything together? Bike paths! These are the secret passageways to Munich’s heartlands.
- Explore Munich’s magnificent English Garden
- Cycle along the lovely banks of the Isar River
- Learn some local history at Königsplatz and Odeonsplatz
- Soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the Royal Garden
- Discover the city’s beautiful Old Town on two wheels
- Stop for a refreshment at the famous Chinese Tower beer garden
Trip Schedule (Subject to Change)
Day 1 – Friday
Travel Stuttgart to Munchen by train. Departs at: 14:14 hrs from Stuttgart Bahnhof. Arrives at Munich Hbf 16:27 hrs.
Visit Beer Garden.
Day 2 – Saturday – Biking Day – English Gardens
Enjoy a morning bike tour of Munich and learn about the city’s history and attractions. Cycle around top Munich attractions such as Königsplatz, Marienplatz and the Old Town.
The non-riders will have the opportunity to spend the day wondering around Munchen or take a Munich walking City Tour. The most popular walking tour is the Free Tour or Munich – Right in the center of town center there are group of students who will take you on a 2 hour walking tour showing all the highlights that you would miss if you didn’t have a guide. They’re fun, not to large, and you acclimate to the area really quick. No reservations needed just show up at the center, and find a group; however, you can also make a reservation ahead of time to save some time. Don’t forget to tip the guide – the tour is free but a tip is expected.
Day 3- Sunday – Flossfahrt Day
The PSC bus will pick us up from the hotel at 8:00hrs or earlier to drive us to the Meeting point at 8:30 hrs in Wolfratshausen – the raft will depart on time at 9:00 clock.
Soon after the start, it’s time to say “O zapft is” and a band immediately creates a great atmosphere. After about an hour we turn into the raft channel and admire one of the last landscape conservation areas in Bavaria, the Pupplinger Au on the Loisach before we move into the beautiful Isar.
Around midday, we arrive after a leisurely drive in the Mühltahl. There is a breather and we watch the other rafts as they rurple down the raft slide with Hurray. Before we move on, we stop at the Beer Garden for a typical Bavarian midday meal, ‘Schweinebraten mit Knödel’ (roast pork with potato dumplings).
After a break of 1 to 1,5 hours we continue our trip, and the absolute highlight of our trip is waiting – the raft soon meets the first out of three Raft Slides. The first raft lane near Mühltal is the biggest in Europe. It is 365 m long, and the difference in altitude is 18 m. A real highlight, with lots of fun and splashing and spraying! The bypass requires extreme skill and experience from the raftsmen. Soon afterward, we pass the second slide in Baierbrunn, with a difference in altitude of 9 m. But there is more to come: another 11 m near Pullach! After Mühltal we encounter the Georgenstein, a 9 m rock right in the middle of the riverbed. Depending on the water level, steering past this rock can be really hard work for the rafter and his crew. We are now approaching Munich, passing by Burg Schwaneck (Schwaneck Castle), now a youth hostel, and the privately owned Burg Grünwald where we may be served a portion of a popular alpine cheese.
After a few smaller raft slides, we continue to the central area in Munich-Thalkirchen. Here ends the unique and exciting adventure that you will remember for a long time. At about 16.00/16.30 hrs, we will arrive at the landing area in Thalkirchen. The PSC bus will be waiting to take you back to Stuttgart. We will depart at 17.00 hrs.
“Beer is the proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin
Payment in Full is Ue at time of Application. Please include a copy of your proof of payment.
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Details: Munich & Last Name, First Name
Munich Biking and Walking Tours suggestions:
Location: The Historic Center
Time: 2 1/2 hours, not counting shopping or any visits inside places mentioned here.
Best Times: Daylight hours during clement weather.
Worst Times: Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 9am and 4:30 to 6pm, because of heavy traffic.
With a history spanning centuries of building and rebuilding, Munich is one of Europe’s most architecturally interesting cities. Postwar developments have marred Munich’s once-homogeneous look, but in rebuilding their city after the war, Münchners tried to respect tradition as much as possible. If you, like the ordinary visitor, have time for only one walking tour, make it the historic center, the point where the city began before it branched out in all directions.
First take either the U-Bahn or the S-Bahn to Marienplatz. After leaving the subway stop, the tour of the historic center begins to the immediate west, where you’ll see a dignified cathedral with impressive brickwork.
This cathedral was begun in 1468 on the site of a much older church and was completed after 20 years. The majestically somber building is capped with twin towers. In spite of massive bombings, these towers escaped Allied bombardments during World War II. They now serve as landmarks on Munich’s skyline and have also become a symbol of the city.
Walk southeast along any of the pedestrian alleyways radiating away from the rear of the church. In a couple of minutes, you’re in the most famous medieval square of Munich.
In the center of this square, a golden statue of the Virgin Mary (the Mariensäule) rises above pavement that was first laid in the 1300s when the rest of the city’s streets were a morass of mud and sewage. On the square’s northern boundary sits the richly ornamented, neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), built between 1867 and 1908 as a symbol of Munich’s power. On its facade is the famous Glockenspiel, the mechanical clock that performs a miniature tournament several times a day. At the square’s eastern border, beyond a stream of traffic, is the simpler and smaller Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall), which was rebuilt in its present form in 1470 after fire destroyed an even earlier version.
From the square, walk south along Rindermarkt, encircling the masonry bulk of:
This church’s interior is a sun-flooded fantasy of baroque stucco and gilt. Completed in 1180, the church was built on the foundations of a Romanesque basilica erected around 1000. St. Peter’s is the oldest parish church in Munich, and for many years, it was the only one. Explore the richly decorated interior, if you have time. If not, settle for a view of the impressive Gothic facade, which was constructed between 1379 and 1386 after a fire destroyed the church in 1327.
Walk around the outside of the church to the back, where you’ll find the sprawling premises of one of the best-stocked food emporiums in Europe, the:
Known as “Munich’s stomach,” this is where you can snack, have a beer, pick up makings for a picnic, or just observe the ritual of European grocery shopping.
At the northern end, at the corner where streets Rosen Tal and Im Tal meet, rises the richly ornate baroque walls of the:
5. Heiliggeist (Holy Ghost) Church
This Gothic “Hall Church” originally belonged to the 14th-century Hospice of the Holy Ghost, a medieval order flourishing in the 1300s. It was built on foundations laid by another structure in the 12th century, and the church was completed in 1730. After other hospice buildings were demolished in 1885, three bays were added to the western facade of the church, giving it a neobaroque facade. World War II bombs brought much destruction, and only the original choir, buttresses, and north wall of the nave remain intact. The rest of the building is a reconstruction.
Cross the busy boulevard identified as Im Tal and walk north along Maderbraustrasse (within a block it changes to Orlandostrasse). Here, look for the entrance to the most famous beer hall in Europe, the state-owned:
For a description, For now, note its location for an eventual return.
Now, walk northwest along Pfisterstrasse. To your left are the walls of the:
7. Alter Hof
This palace was originally built in 1255, and once served as the palace of the Wittelsbachs, although it was later eclipsed by even grander palaces. Since 1816, it has housed the colorless offices of Munich’s financial bureaucracies.
On the opposite (northern) edge of Pfisterstrasse rise the walls of the:
Built between 1563 and 1567, this building has, during its lifetime, housed, in turn, the imperial stables, the first museum north of the Alps, and (1809-1986) a branch of the government mint. Today, it’s headquarters for Munich’s Landmark Preservation office (Landesamt für Denkmalschutz). If it’s open, the double tiers and massive stone columns of the building’s Bavarian Renaissance courtyard are worth a visit.
Pfisterstrasse funnels into a broader street, Hofgraben. Walk west for 1 block, and then turn right (north) along Residenzstrasse. The first building on your right is the main post office (Hauptpost), and a few paces on is:
Designed as a focal point for the monumental Maximilianstrasse that radiates east, the plaza was built in the 19th century on the site of a Franciscan convent in honor of Bavaria’s first king.
At the north edge of the plaza lie the vast exhibition space and labyrinthine corridors of one of Munich’s finest museums, the:
Constructed in different stages and styles from 1500 to 1850, the Residenz was the official home of Bavarian rulers until 1918. Restored and rebuilt in its original form after World War II, the complicated site has seven semiconcealed courtyards, lavish apartments that have housed foreign visitors like Elizabeth II and Charles de Gaulle, and museums that include the Residenz Museum, the Treasure House of the Residenz, the richly gilded rococo Cuvilliés Theater (1753), and the Herkulessaal, a concert hall noted for its baroque decorations.
Walk from Max-Joseph-Platz north along Residenzstrasse. Make the first left and walk west on Viscardigasse. Within another block, turn right (north) along Theatinerstrasse. On your right you’ll immediately notice an important Munich landmark, the:
This open-air loggia was designed by Friedrich von Gärtner and constructed between 1841 and 1844. Von Gärtner’s model was the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. King Ludwig I commissioned the construction of the loggia as a tribute to the Bavarian army. The bronze figures honoring Bavarian generals Tilly (1559-1632) and Wrede (1767-1838) are based on drawings by Ludwig Schwanthaler.
The two lions on the steps are the work of a sculptor, Ruemann, in 1906. Although Hitler’s attempted putsch in Munich failed, along with the subsequent march to the Feldherrnhalle, the loggia later became a Nazi rallying point. Today, the Brown Shirts are replaced by street singers and musicians.
On the western (opposite) side of the same street (Theatinerstrasse) is the:
12. Theatinerkirche (Church of St. Kajetan)
Completed in 1690, this church’s triple-domed, Italian-baroque facade was added about a century later by the Cuvilliés team of father and son. Its crypt contains the tombs of many of the Wittelsbachs.
Continue north, passing through Odeonsplatz, below which several subway lines converge. On the northeastern side of this square lie the flowers, fountains, and cafes of one of Munich’s most pleasant small parks, the:
Originally laid out for members of the royal court in 1613, this garden was opened to the public in 1780. Here, as well as along the avenues radiating away from it, lie many opportunities for you to:
14. Take a Break
Do as the Münchners do and enjoy the panorama of Odeonsplatz and the nearby Hofgarten. One attractive choice is Café Luitpold, Brienner Strasse 11 (tel. 089/24-28-750). Rebuilt in a streamlined design after World War II, it has, in the past, welcomed such cafe-loving habitués as Ibsen, Johann Strauss the Younger, and Kandinsky.
Walk west along Brienner Strasse, through a neighborhood lined with impressive buildings. On your right, notice the heroic statue of Maximilian I, the Great Elector (1597-1651), rising from the center of:
One of the most famous squares of Munich, Wittelsbacher-Platz evokes, for some, a grand hall. It’s enveloped by palaces, most of which were designed by Leo von Klenze, including the 1820 Palais Arco-Zinneberg on the square’s western side. The 1825 Wittelsbacher-Palais rises on the north side of the square. Today, it is the head office of Siemens. The impressive neoclassical equestrian statue in the center is much photographed. Bertel Thorvaldsen, one of Denmark’s leading sculptors, created this statue in 1830. Also in the center is Wittelsbacher-Brunnen, or Wittelsbach Fountain, the most celebrated in the city. It is another neoclassical work, created in the last decade of the late 1800s by Adolf von Hildebrand, the noted sculptor.
Continue on Brienner Strasse until you see Maximiliansplatz to your left. This leads into the verdant and stylish perimeter of:
This leafy square begins at Max-Joseph-Platz and runs to the east. Maximilian II wanted a platz and a street more loosely defined than the rigidly designed Ludwigstrasse. Maximiliansplatz and Maximilianstrasse were conceived and designed so that shops, hotels, gardens, restaurants, offices, and public buildings could coexist side by side. Thus, the “Maximilianic style” was created, which is a medley of various styles with many elements from past architectural movements, such as Gothic. Shop at your leisure or plan to return later.
For the moment, return to Brienner Strasse, turn left (west), and head toward the 26m (85-ft.) obelisk (erected in 1833) that soars above:
17. KarolinenplatzThis was the city’s first star-shaped open space. Based on his model for the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, Karl von Fisher mapped out this square from 1809 to 1812. Although it doesn’t match the radiance of its inspiration, it is nonetheless an impressive landmark. But don’t judge Von Fischer too harshly when you see the square today. His uniform neoclassical look has been regrettably altered in the postwar era by buildings no longer in harmony with his original design. In the center of the square, Leo von Klenze placed an obelisk commemorating the 30,000 (or more) Bavarian soldiers who were lost in the ill-fated Russian campaign of 1812.
To the northwest, Karolinenplatz is linked by Brienner Strasse to:
In the early 19th century, Crown Prince Ludwig (later Ludwig I) selected this formal neoclassical design from an architectural competition. Its perimeter is ringed with some of Germany’s most impressive museum buildings, the Doric-inspired Propyläen monument (west side), the Antikensammlungen (south side), and the Ionic-fronted Glyptothek (north side).
About Sendlinger Tor: Munich’s first city wall expanded here in the late-1200s marked with a tall multistory central gate tower. Although the original city gate 4 blocks to the Northeast was already called Sendlinger Tor, this new tower retained the same name because it was on the important Sendlinger Road. This road was a main trade route in Medieval times and led from Munich to Italy.
Sendlinger Tor’s two brick towers you see today were built in 1318 and remain the oldest part of the 3 city gates still standing in Munich. The towers were added in front of the central tower as part of a double wall surrounded by a moat complete with a large drawbridge. The gateway was further fortified in the 1600s including the drawbridge being replaced by a hefty stone bridge.
Today the mighty brick gate is beautifully covered in vines and leads visitors into a series trendy shops. Just outside the gate is the famous Sendlinger Tor Film Theater. Opened in 1913, this vintage theater shows new release movies, however, the movie posters are still painted on just like the early days of film. Photos: (Gate in the 1600s | Gate in the 1600s close up | Back of Tower in 1805).
9. Munich City & Jewish Museums:
About The Museums: Sitting inside a former 15th Century city arsenal, the Munich City Museum (Münchner Stadtmuseum) is one of only a few museums worth a stop in Munich. The museum highlights all periods of Munich’s history, from its monk origins, the numerous fires, its time as the seat of Bavaria, the growth of the Nazi Party, and the effects of WW2. One of the coolest exhibits at the City Museum is one that traces the past 200 years of Oktoberfest. While a lot of exhibits are seasonal only, the Museum still makes for a great look into Munich’s culture, especially on a rainy day.
Sitting right next door to the City Museum is one of Munich’s hidden gems, the Jewish Museum. The first Jewish museum in Munich opened back int 1928 and it was housed in a very cramped house. This was around the same time that Hitler started forming his Nazi party and through the horrors of the Holocaust it is amazing that items still remain to display today.
The current Jewish Museum and was opened in 2007, 69 years after the Nazis tore down Munich’s synagogues. It is modern looking building is filled with great exhibitions centered on Jewish history in Munich. Instead of feeling like a Holocaust museum, the Jewish Museum is more like a cultural learning experience. This is a great stop especially if you plan on visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial while in Munich.
Visiting Hours: Both run Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission Cost: They are each 4 euros, but if you go to the City Museum you get the Jewish Museum half off. City Museum Website: (HERE). Jewish Museum Website: (HERE).
10. Old Cattle Market Square (Rindermarkt):
About Rindermarkt: Serving as City’s main cattle market in Medieval times, Rindermarket was built at the Southern entrance of Munich’s original city wall. Dominating the square was the initial Sendlinger Tower Gate (Sendlinger Tor) which was built in 1175 and served as an important trading crossroads because Sendlinger Straße was the main road out of Munich toward Italy.
By the early-1200s this section of the city wall already had to be slightly expanded and bubbled out along Rosenthal Street. This expansion included another small gate called Rose Tower (Rosenturm) and a seven-story-tall brick water tower called the Lion Tower (Löwenturm). The impressive Lion Tower still survives today because in the 1500s it was incorporated into a large stately home to provide water for its garden. It had almost been completely forgotten about until bombing in WW2 ruined the home and revealed the tower once again.
A citywide expansion of Munich’s original wall from 1285 to 1347 pushed this section outward 4 blocks and included the building of the New Sendlinger Tower Gate. Parts of the Old City Wall were removed to make way for a larger cattle market surrounded by new homes for some of the wealthiest tradesmen in Munich, but the Interior Sendlinger Tower was left standing.
One of the wealthiest traders to live near the Cattle Market Square was the salt merchant Johann Baptista Ruffini who Interior Sendlinger Tower from the City in 1708 and built his house right night to it. The tower later became known as Ruffini Gate (Ruffiniturm) in his honor until it was torn down 1808.
In the late-1800s the city bought back the property and had a design competition to rebuild Ruffini’s home. The winning design was completed in 1906 and was comprised of 3 different styles of family homes joined together around a triangle courtyard. The result was almost perfect and the facade of the Ruffinihaus is one of our favorite buildings in Munich. The tombstone of Johann Baptista Ruffini can be seen on the outside walls of Saint Peter’s Church which we will visit on our next stop of this free Munich walking tour.
Make sure to check out the large cascading Cattle Market Fountain (Rindermarkt Brunnen) before leaving the square. It built in 1964 in honor of the old cattle market and is completed by numerous cattle figures. Photos: (Ruffini Tower in the 1600s | Rose & Lion Towers in the 1600s).
11. Saint Peter’s Church (Alter Peterskirche):
About Saint Peter’s Church: Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest parish in town and pre-dates the city of Munich itself. In the 700s a group of Benedictine Monks were the first to settle here and built modest monastery and chapel on what they called Saint Peter’s Hill. Not only did this define the Munich’s location, but the name München is literally derived from Mönch, the German word for monk, basically meaning Monk Settlement. The city of Munich was officially founded in 1158 when the Monks are given permission by Henry the Lion to hold a market.
After the Wittelsbachs took over Bavaria in 1180, the first permanent Saint Peter’s Church was built in a Romanesque style. This new wooden church latest until 1327 when it burned down and was replaced with a larger Gothic style church complete with 2 large bell towers. Shortly after the Gothic reconstruction, the 1st public clock in Munich was installed on Church.
Saint Peter’s Church was greatly damaged once again in the 1400s and the twin bell towers could not be saved. Instead of rebuilding, they added a new Renaissance steeple between the former twin towers and slanted their tops to match the roof line which you can still see today. Even more clocks were added to this new steeple with 2 on each for a total of 8 to ensure you could see the time no matter where you were. The steeple bell tower even got a balcony in the 1600s which allowed it to become an important fire lookout until 1936.
Today you can climb up to get an amazing view of Munich from the fire balcony if you are willing to hike up 306 steps. You will even be able to see far away sights to the North such as Olympic Stadium on a clear day. The view will also help you get a lay of the land for the sights on this free Munich walking tour map.
Make sure to explore the richly decorated interior of St Peter’s Church, its gold-laced giant Alter, and even a skeleton? That’s right, not only is there a Reliquary with a ton of assorted bones/skulls, but also the almost comical, gem-covered skeleton of Saint Munditia. Housed in the 2nd enclave on the left side of the church, Mundita’s wide-eyed stare and rotten tooth smile will be something you will surely remember from your trip. Murdered in 310AD, she was decorated in 1675 before finally being put on display here. It’s only fitting to see this odd collection as Munich is said to have more relics than any other city outside of Rome.
These relics make it easy to miss the elements of St Peter, whom the church is named for, above the altar and on the ceiling. The painting on the ceiling represents Saint Peter being crucified upside-down on Vatican Hill in Rome which served as a springboard for the growth of Catholicism. Most of the paintings were damaged in WW2 and it took until the year 2000 to repair them all.
12. Victuals Market (Viktualienmarkt):
About Viktualienmarkt: Victuals is a Latin word for food, which is fitting for this daily market often called The Stomach of the City. The Viktualienmarkt (pronounced: vick-tool-lee-an market) started as a simple farmers market in the 1700s known as Green Market (Grünermarkt), but quickly grew to overtake Marienplatz as Munich’s main market. Most of the markets from Munich’s main square were ordered to move here in 1807 and in just 16 years it was packed to the brim with stalls. When the neighboring Holy Ghost Hospital was demolished in 1885 it gave the proper room for the Viktualienmarkt to expand with proper space.
The sprawling market now has over 100 produce stands organized into 6 sections and even has a welcoming shaded beer garden which opened in 1970. Sitting at a table with a tablecloth means you will have a server come to you and no tablecloth means it is a self-service area where you buy from the stands or bring your own food with you. Every 6 weeks the market features a different one of Munich main breweries on tap making it the most diverse of the City’s 180 beer gardens. This is also out favorite place to relax and people watch on this free Munich walking tour.
If you are hungry, make sure to stop by the legendary Münchner Suppenküche soup kitchen to eat like a local. The most popular items are goulash soup, Krustis sandwiches, and sausage with sauerkraut. There is even a wonderful umbrella lined terrace we love called Rischart Cafe (website) which sits above a row of former late-Medieval butcher shops.
The blue and white, candy-striped Maypole overlooking Viktualienmarkt is an extremely iconic imagine in Munich and definitely worth a photo or two. This one, decorated in an Oktoberfest theme, is one of 30 Maypoles scattered around town. Maypoles date back to per-Christian times and are symbols of fertility and luck. Each year on May Day (May 1st) spring celebrations are held around the Maypoles including the tapping of the new year’s batch of beer. In Medieval times during May Day, the top of the Maypole would have market items hanging from the halo wreath on the top. If you could climb up to the top barefoot you got to keep the prizes waiting there for you. During the holiday season Viktualienmarkt also hosts a Christmas Market which features the Maypole covered in lights.
If it is bad weather consider stopping at the nearby Schrannenhalle (website) covered shopping hall. The hall was originally built by King Maximilian I to store grain modeled after French storehouses. It burned down in 1932 but was rebuilt in 2005 to hold an indoor market, shops, and restaurants. On the North side of the hall is the Der Pschorr Beer Hall (website) which has very tasty beer. Like most produce stands in Munich, it is normal for the workers to grab the fruits and vegetables you like for you instead of pulling them from the shelves yourselves. We were a little confused by this on our first visit, but even if you don’t speak German it is easy to just point to what you want.
13. Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus):
About Old Town Hall: The Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus, pronounced Alt-as Rat-house) adds some much welcomed Medieval flair into the center of old town and is a favorite spot for photographers. The spired watchtower, which is called the Valley Fort Tower (Talburgtor), was built in 1175 as one of the five original city gates on the very 1st protective wall surrounding Old Town Munich. Outside of the gate, the wall was protected by the Baker’s Stream (Pfisterbach) which served as a flowing moat. From the late-1100s this was the Munich’s main Eastern gate until the city walls were expanded out toward Isar Gate (built in 1337).
The original city council offices were inside the Small Town Hall (Kleines Rathaus) built onto the South side of the watchtower in 1310. The grand hall you see today on the Northside of the watchtower is called the Dance House (Tanzhaus). It was built before 1395, housed the prison in the basement, a bakery and meeting rooms on the main floor, and had a large dancehall ballroom on the upper floor. Notice the small square fountain in front of the Old Town Hall? This was the central fountain the small Herb Market (Kräutlmarkt) which in Medieval times sold eggs, herbs, and grain as visitors entered the city.
The Old Town Hall watchtower, offices, and Dance House were given a mutual castle-like makeover after a fire in 1460 to show Munich’s power as a major trading hub. While the buildings were almost completely leveled by WW2 bombings, they have been faithfully restored. The only real changes were the Small Town Hall was eliminated to make room for the road and the first floor of the Dance House was turned into open arcades for pedestrian passage.
Two original Medieval statues were preserved on the watchtower including Henry the Lion who officially founded Munich in 1158 before the Wittelsbachs took over in 1180. On the Westside of the tower is a statue of Ludwig IV, called the Bavarian, who ruled during the early 1300s in the height of the salt trade. Ludwig (Louis the 4th) became the Holy Roman Emperor and declared Munich’s main square to officially be public for the people.
Since 1983, the tower has served as a 4-story Toy Museum filled with dolls, doll houses, trains, teddy bears, and vintage Barbies. While the museum is more for toy lovers it offers great views of the square below. Near the base of the tower is the popular bare-chested Juliet Statue given to Munich by its sister city of Verona, Italy in 1974. The right breast of the bronze statue from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has been polished to a golden shine by visitors rubbing it for good luck.
Tower Toy Museum Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm. Museum Cost: Adults 4€, Kids 1€.
14. Fish Fountain (Fischbrunnen):
About Fischbrunnen: While we will visit the rest of Munich’s main square (Marienplatz) and the gigantic New Town Hall next on this free walking tour, it’s important to see the town’s medieval roots at the Fish Fountain (Fischbrunnen). There was at one point three separate fountains and well in the vast square, but this was the most important one.
Initially called the Market Fountain and Citizen Fountain, there has been a fountain on this spot continuously since 1318 when the square was declared the property of the people by Lugwig IV. Through the Middle Ages, the Market Fountain was used for drinking water, as a meeting point, and also by local fishmongers to store live fish to keep them fresh. The first version of the Fish Fountain had a simple column which was later topped with a citizen/tradesmen statue.
Since the 1400s, Purse Washing has been a significant tradition at the Fish Fountain. Every Ash Wednesday locals would wash out their money bags in the fountain in hopes they will be filled again in the coming year. To this day, the Mayor of Munich still washes out the City’s coffers in the fountain’s turquoise water with the town treasurer.
In the 1860s the Fish Fountain got a substantial 3-level makeover with bronze statues of four butcher apprentices tossing out buckets of water, under a row of four musical children, and capped with a tradesman (journeymen butcher) raising a cup. This new design paid homage to the Metzgersprung (Butcher’s Leap) which was held here every year on Rose Monday (two days before Ash Wednesday). The event was considered a rite of initiation as young butchers were issued journeyman letters for the official conclusion of their apprenticeship training. The butcher apprentices would then jump into the Fish Fountain as a baptism to wash themselves of youthful sins wearing costumes draped in sheep’s eyes hung with calf’s tails. The newly anointed journeymen then toss coins, apples, and nuts onto the square for the children and toss buckets of water at them as they attempted to grab the prizes.
At the start of the tradition, the joyous Butcher’s Leap also helped people to get back out on the streets and stop being afraid of the water following the Plague of 1634-35. It took place every year from the mid-1600s until the controversial Elector Karl Theodor ended it in 1793, but was revived in 1849 by Maximilian II. After a post-war hiatus from 1954 until 1995, the Butcher’s Leap was brought back again and moved to early September where it now happens every 3 years.
Bombings in WW2 leveled the Fish Fountain, but luckily some of the original statues from the 1860s were recovered. Three of the musician boys were moved to the New House Gate in Karlsplatz (which we saw earlier in this free Munich walking tour), and three of the butcher boys were reused for today’s Fish Fountain built in 1954. The boys still pour their buckets into the fountain’s base, one holds a fish in the air, and the whole thing is topped with a chubby fish to pay homage to the fishy roots.
15. Mary’s Square (Marienplatz):
About Marienplatz: Mary’s Square (Marienplatz) has always been the center of Munich back to when the area was first settled by Benedictine Monks in the 700s. When the Monks got a royal charter from Henry the Lion to start an official marketplace here in 1158, it formerly founded the city of Munich and started the general layout of today’s Old Town. Just two years earlier, Henry built a new toll bridge nearby over the Isar River to reroute the Salt Road from the mines in Bad Reichenhall and Hallein (near Salzburg) through Munich on its way to Augsburg which helped the marketplace surge.
While called both Market Square (Marktplatz) and Stall Square (Schrannenplatz) over the centuries, the lively space has been home a wide range of markets. Since Medieval times they’ve had every type of market from salt (boomed in the 1300s), to produce, fish, meat, and a Christmas market (which is still active). In addition to the markets, at one point there were three separate fountains, a well, the gallows, and the stocks all in the Market Square.
While in Mary’s Square (Marienplatz), it is hard to miss the backdrop of the huge New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) which we will visit next on this free Munich walking tour. Before moving on, make sure to investigate the Virgin Mary Column (Mariensäule) in front of New Town Hall which tells an interesting story of Munich’s history.
The column was added by Maximilian the 1st in 1638 declaring Mary the new patron of the city for protecting Munich during times of trouble. Just 6 years earlier (1632) Munich had survived a 3-week Swedish occupation as part of The 30 Years War which was followed by an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague of 1634-35 that wiped out 1/3 of the population. While Mary was given the credit for protecting the city in both cases, it also helped that the Swedes were paid off with 600,000 barrels of beer to spare the Munich.
The beautiful column is capped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary which was originally crafted in 1590 for the nearby Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) which we will visit later on this free Munich walking tour. Below the beautiful golden icon, four playful child-like warrior statues surround the sturdy base of the column on each of its corners. These four child statues are all depicted fighting different creatures to symbolize adversities that Munich has overcome: war represented by the lion, pestilence by the rooster-headed creature, famine by the dragon, and heresy by the serpent.
This Virgin May Column is considered the 1st Marian Column built North of the Alps which inspired a wave of them around Europe after traumatic events like war and plagues. While the fountain survived WW2, the Mary statue was knocked off the top and needed significant repair. Seeing how pretty the dramatic column is, it is no wonder that Market Square was re-named Mary’s Square (Marienplatz) in 1858 as the last of the markets moved to other squares.
16. New Town Hall & Glockenspiel:
About New Town Hall: From 1801 to 1861 the population of Munich boomed from 40,000 to 120,000 and the City’s needs quickly outgrew the Old Town Hall. Built over 40 years starting in 1867, the sure size of Gothic-style New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus, pronounced Noy-as Rat-house) is stunning. It sits over a football field long, has 6 courtyards, and over 400 rooms. The first phase of the New Town Hall complex was the right side built over the old Landstände Mansion (1740) which represented outside rule by the former Holy Roman Empire (dissolved in 1806). The second phase was the left side of the New Town Hall (1898-1905) complete with the iconic Glockenspiel Tower. While the 600-year-old Gevierten neighborhood behind New Town Hall (now Marienhof Park) was leveled in WW2, luckily the complex was largely spared of damage. Most of the roof burnt off, but only some decorative details and five statues on the facade were ruined.
Dominating New Town Hall’s Gothic facade is the 280-foot-tall central clock tower which is capped by the symbol of Munich, a statue of the Child Monk (Münchner Kindl). The main attraction of the clock tower is the 2-story, 28-foot-tall Glockenspiel (Carillon), complete with 43 bells, which is the largest in Germany. Everyday mechanical figures in the Glockenspiel perform a 15 minute long miniature Medieval tournament, re-enacting numerous events in Munich’s history. These full performances take place at 11am and Noon with an extra 5pm show in the Summer.
The Glockenspiel shows are manually operated and while the figures look small from the ground, they are actually almost life-sized. You can get a closer look at the Glockenspiel figures and some commanding city views by taking either the stairs or elevator to the top of the tower. For the best vantage point of the show itself, head to the third floor of the Hugendubel Bookstore (open 10am-8pm) across the square from New Town Hall.
The upper level of the Glockenspiel show depicts the Crown Jousting Tournament (Kröndlstechen) held on Marienplatz in February 1568 as part of a festival for the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine. A carnival-like parade of royal court members lead the jousters to battle and on the second rotation, the red rider (French) is flung from his horse by a strike from the triumphant blue rider (Bavarian). The powerhouse wedding between cousins made Bavaria’s Wittelsbach rulers related to the Kings of France, Denmark, Scotland, and Spain. The wedding was attended by royal delegations from all across Europe and was a celebration on a scale not often seen in the Middle Ags. The day of the wedding at Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), the bride was led to Munich from nearby Dachau by a procession of over 3,500 horses and during the two-week-long party over 600 oxen were roasted. Duke Wilhelm V went on to become well-known for his religious witch hunts, but is most famous for founding the Royal Beer House (Hofbrauhaus) in 1589 which we will visit later on this free Munich walking tour.
The lower level of the Glockenspiel shows the Dance of the Coopers, called Schäfflertanz in German. The Coopers are dancing to celebrate the end of the Plague of 1517 which folklore says was spread to the people of Munich by the Wurmeck Dragon. With the people in chaos, a city guardsman hit the dragon with a direct cannon shot, killing it, and ending the plague. On the Southwestern corner of the New Town Hall, this same story of the Wurmeck Dragon is shown in dramatic sculpture.
Every night 9pm a mini-show called Bedtime for the Münchner Kindl is performed on the sides of the Glockenspiel. During the show the Münchner Kindl (Child Monk), who is the symbol of the city who is led to bed by the Friedensengel (Angel of Peace) as the Night Watchman sounds out the City’s Medieval curfew on his horn.
The New Town Hall’s interior is also really cool. As you enter City Hall’s large central courtyard, which serves as an open-air restaurant, stay to your left to see some great vertical sculptures. We’re always fascinated by these Gothic sculptures and how they show different stages of men turning into various creatures as you follow up each tier. Some of the men are turning into horses, another a large bird, and a couple of them even have quite creepy middle stages.
If you are looking for a taste of Medieval drinking, work your way down to the basement tavern called Ratskeller Restaurant (website) which is Munich’s oldest wine cellar. Prior to the New Town Hall being built, the Ratskeller had been housed in the neighboring mansion called the Landscape House (now Ludwig Beck) since Medieval Times and was limited to the upper-class and City Council. Even if you don’t go down into the Ratskeller (Council Resturant) take a minute to look at the decorated details on the entrances, especially the drinking monks on the entrance from the courtyard and the masquerade dancer door knobs on the Eastern doors outside New Town Hall.
Tower Elevator Hours: May-October Daily 10am-7pm; November-April Monday-Friday only 10am-5pm. Elevator Cost: 2 Euros. Glockenspiel Show Times: Full 15-minute show at 11am and Noon, plus 5pm in Summer; 5-minute long night show daily at 9pm. Photos: (Exterior | At Night | View From St Peter’s |Glockenspiel | Pope at Mary’s Column | Mary’s Column Warrior). 360 Degree Panoramas: (Day Time | At Night). Video: (Glockenspiel In Action).
17. Pedestrian Only Shopping:
About The Shopping: Munich’s main shopping lane called New House Street (Neuhauser Strasse) was turned into a pedestrian-only zone leading up to the 1972 Olympics and is a highlight of any visit. Since Munich was established as a market town in 1158 the lane was important as the Salt Road trade route passed right through the city from Salzburg in the East to Germany in the West. The original shopping lane went from the Lower Gate (Talburgtor) near Old Town Hall, through Market Square and to the Upper Gate (Hohentor) which stood on the West side of Old Town.
As the city wall was expanded in the 1300-1400s, the merchant family Kaufinger moved into the Upper Gate (Hohentor) which then became known as Kaufinger Tower (Kaufingertor). Rebuilt in a Gothic style, the tower was later demolished in 1810, but the family’s name lives on along Munich’s shopping lane. Known as Kaufingertor Passage (website), one of the more modern elements is the covered alleyway that branches off of New house Street. In 1994 a glass roof was added to the shopping gallery with an illuminated design which is pretty cool. The lighting in the Kaufingertor Passage even copies the feel of a natural sunset as the colors change every evening gradually over a 90 minute period. Our favorite element of the Passage is the statue of a man balancing on a beam high above the entrance. The statue, called Man With Outspread Arms, was created by the artist Stephan Balkenhol and is meant to be inviting everyone into the world of shopping at Kaufingetor.
One block further up the main pedestrian lane from the Passage is the famous Hirmer Department Store (website) which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Munich. The mega-sized clothing store carries a huge collection of high-end Men’s clothing that is almost as impressive as the building itself. Even if you don’t go inside, your camera will love the flower-laden exterior, especially after dark when it is lit up. Right in the middle of the intersection in front of the large Hirmer Haus was once the location Munich’s original Western city wall gate called Kaufingertor mentioned above. A large dark square in the pavement marks the watch tower’s original location and a sculpture relief of what it looked like is on the corner of the Hirmer Haus.
Just past Hirmer is a wonderful collection of great souvenir shops housed in the former Augustiner Monastery from the 1200s. The building was rebuilt in the 1600s and the best shop is the Max Krug Gift Shop (website) which is famous for its beer steins, cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers and Christmas ornaments. If you are looking for a little more high-end shopping, check out the Funf Hofe Shopping Center which we will pass by shortly on this free Munich walking tour map.
18. Cathedral of Our Lady (Frauenkirche):
About Frauenkirche: You will be able to see the massive 325-foot tall twin towers of the Cathedral of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) hovering above Old Town Munich from almost anywhere in town. It is by far the tallest church in Munich. This mega-sized cathedral has become a symbol of Munich not only because its dominance in the skyline, but also because the brick towers survived heavy WW2 bombings even when the most of the church was leveled. The ambitious construction of Frauenkirche started in 1468 to replace the much older Mary’s Church that already stood here.
With most of Germany being Protestant and Bavaria being Catholic, Munich wanted to make a statement with the size of their new Gothic-style City Parish. The new church was so big that it even covered the graveyard of the previous church and today you can headstones that were incorporated right into the outside walls of Frauenkirche. Although the builders switched from stone to brick to save money, the new Church quickly ran out of money before the Pope stepped in and saved the project. With a Papal decree that official Catholic Church indulgences could be bought in Munich, over 120,000 pilgrims showed up over a 3 year period which provided enough money to complete the Frauenkirche.
When the church was completed in 1488, its facade was quite bare and the structure of the towers was exposed. One famous illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493 shows the bare towers over the city from an Eastern vantage point, Click For Photo. The towers were meant to be finished with elaborate Gothic spires to look like the style seen at Saint Stephens Church in Vienna, Cologne Cathedral, and Saint Vitus in Prague, but it never happened because of money. In 1525, the twin towers were faced off with brick and the tops were covered in a large copper plated onion domes. An Old Town building height restriction ensured the towers would be seen which was extended throughout the entire city in 2004 as skyscrapers started to pop up.
The interior of Frauenkirche is also gigantic. The size seems even crazier when you learn that Munich, which was decent sized for Medieval times, only had 13,000 residents when the 20,000-person Cathedral opened. As you enter all of your attention is funneled to the high altar as tall columns make Frauenkirche appear almost windowless from the entrance. This is quite a feat as the detailed stained glass windows are actually huge and open up to you the further you walk into the church.
Legend has it that the architect made a deal with the Devil when the project ran out of money that he would help fund the project as long as it had no windows. After the Church was finished and paid for the Devil realized he was tricked and stomped his foot hard in the entrance making an imprint on the marble floor. The Devil’s footprint can still be seen today and is one of the biggest attractions at Frauenkirche. Other highlights include the royals buried here like the huge bronze tomb of Ludwig IV, who ruled during the early 1300s during the height of the salt trade, and was elected Holy Roman Emperor. During the Summer you can even ascent the massive 325-foot tall towers with a climb of about 90 steps plus an easy elevator ride to get some great views of the city.
Sitting in the courtyard in front of Frauenkirche is a peaceful square calls Frauenplatz. Every time we visit the church we end up spending a couple minutes sitting by the outdoor art pieces and small pond to relax. The pond is still feed from what was Munich’s original city moat from 1175 which flowed right around the church grounds.
Cathedral Hours: Daily 7am-7pm; Friday closes at 6pm. Bell Tower Hours: April-October Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm; Closed November-March. Cost: Church Free, Towers 3 euros. Guided Tours: May-September on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursday at 2pm. Meeting place under the organ loft. 360 Degree Panoramas: (As Seen From St Peter’s Tower). Church Website: (HERE).
19. Field Marshall’s Hall (Feldherrnhalle):
About Field Marshall’s Hall: Built by Ludwig I in 1841, the large 4 column, open-air gallery capping the square is called the Field Marshall’s Hall (Feldherrnhalle). Modeled after the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, this Italian gallery was meant to honor the commanders of the Bavarian Army.
While the gallery was supposed to get many more statues over time, it only has three main works. The two statues flanking both ends were in honor of revered Bavarian military heroes, Johann Tilly and Karl Von Wrede. The largest statue in the middle was added in 1870 in honor of the soldiers who died in the Franco Prussian War in 1870. The two large lions guarding the steps were not added until 1900. Notice how the lion facing the Palace is growling but the one facing the church is calm with a closed mouth.
On August 1st, 1914 the German declaration of war was announced from the Field Marshall’s Hall in front of a large crowd. Among the audience was a young Adolf Hitler who joined the military two days later where he was awarded the Iron Cross both First and Second Class. Hitler returned to the hall in 1923 when his failed revolution called the Beer Hall Putsch was foiled here.
The Beer Hall Putsch began when Hitler and troop of Brown Shirts stormed the Bürgerbräukeller Beer Hall at 8:30pmon November 8th, 1923. Hitler himself fired shots into the ceiling, took hostages and declared that a revolution was at hand to overthrow the government. His revolution stalled and by the next morning, he decided to march with 3,000 of his men in the direction of Berlin. As the march approached the Field Marshall’s Hall, they were met by the Bavarian Police and Army a clash broke out with an exchange of fire. During the exchange, 16 Nazis and 4 police were killed, and even Hitler wounded his shoulder before being arrested two days later and jailed for 9 months.
During the first year of Nazi rule in 1933, Hitler made the gallery a guarded memorial for the Nazis that died that day. All citizen who passed the memorial were forced to give the Nazi salute. Every year on the November 9th anniversary of the Putsch they would have a parade following the original route of the failed march through town. Everything Nazi-related was quickly removed from the Hall after WW2 and a plaque honoring the 4 policemen that died during the Beer Hall Putsch was added in 1994. Today the Hall and square in front of it often hold concerts and art installations.
20. Theatine Church (Theatinerkirche):
About Theatinerkirche: In 1650 Elector Ferdinand married an Italian princess in a powerhouse arranged marriage. Ferdinand didn’t even get to meet his bride until a year after they wed as a representative of the Royal Court was sent in his place for the wedding which took place in Italy. A decade later the couple still hadn’t produced an heir, putting the dynasty in danger. Things looked bleak as Ferdinand’s wife was sick on her deathbed multiple times. As a call for help, the couple prayed for a child and made a deal that when it finally happened they built a church in honor of Saint Cajetan of Theatine. In 1662, the couple finally got their long-awaited heir, Prince Max Emanuel, and work on the Church started the next year.
Only the shell of the Theatinerkirche and adjoining monastery were finished when it opened in 1674. It took another 16 years to complete the stunning Baroque interior and the current exterior wasn’t done until 1765. There wasn’t much of a rush on the exterior design as the huge Schwabinger City Gate from the 1300s dominated the Odenplatz Square and many of the outside vantage points at the time the Church was built. After the gate was torn down in 1817 it opened up the square and views of the golden-yellow Theatinerkirche. Our favorite elements of the exterior are the Rococo tops on the bell towers and the 2 statues to sides of the main window. The statue on the left is the church’s patron Saint Cajetan of Thiene (1480-1547) and on the right is royal heir Prince Max Emanuel who’s birth sparked the project.
The spacious, white-washed interior is one of our favorites in Europe and quite unique. Elaborate vine and shell decorations fill every inch of the Theatinerkirche along with 100s of child-like winged angle figures. Details on the columns and inside the 230-foot tall dome are especially beautiful. The Theatinerkirche feels light, airy, heavenly, and has exceptional beams of light pouring in throughout the day. As the 1st Italian inspired Baroque churches in Bavaria, you can easily see how this beautiful style became popular throughout Europe. After the Asam Brother’s Church, we saw earlier on this free Munich walking tour, the Theatine Church is our second favorite in all of Old Town. Photos: (Schwabinger Gate in 1600s |Schwabinger Gate in 1765 | Inner side of Gate in 1805). 360 Degree Panoramas: (From The Square | Interior Close Up). Church Website: (HERE).
21. Royal Court Garden (Hofgarten):
About Hofgarten: Originally laid out between 1613-17 on the North side of the Residenz Palace, the Hofgarten was a private garden for members of the Wittelsbach Royal Court. At the time the Royal Court Garden was outside of Munich’s moat and the outer wall, but was quickly protected by a double wall and moat built in 1618 to protect the city during the 30 Years War. It is said that the new fortifications around the city took a workforce of over 40,000 people 13 years to complete.
To get an idea of what we are talking about, these new fortifications with starred ramparts can be seen around the Hofgarten HERE in a drawing from 1740. The Hofgarten was opened to the general public in 1780 as the 1st public park in Munich. With Hofgarten open to the public, the Royal Family then used a private park on East side of the Residenz Palace near their horse stables called Lustgarten which had been laid out in 1550, but later ruined in WW2.
While the open spaces and beer garden are nice, the main draw of the flower-lined Hofgarten park is the 8 portal pavilion in the center. Built in 1615 to honor Diana, the Greek Goddess of Hunting, the green-domed pavilion is a little plain, but a great place to people watch. The large building on the East side of the Hofgarten that looks like a greenhouse is actually Bayerische Staatskanzlei which is home to the office of Bavaria’s Governor and is still the state’s government seat. Also located adjacent to the Hofgarten is the Munich War Memorial. The most striking inscription is the one covering the 22000 dead, 11000 missing Munich soldiers and 6600 citizens from WWII.
The Hofgarten has turned into an ideal place to get a quick break from the bustling city. This is also a perfect time to fit in our English Garden Walking Tour if you are looking to visit the best park in Munich. The huge English Garden has river surfing, sunbathing, the amazing outdoor Chinese Tower Beer Garden, and lots of open space. It was laid out of the Schönfeld Meadow and Royal deer hunting grounds shortly after the Hofgarten was made public. 360 Degree Panorama: Click Here. Photos: (Garden in 1740).
22. Dodgers’ Alley (Drueckebergergasse):
About Dodger’s Alley: Viscard Alley in Munich is known locally as Dodgers’ Alley (Drueckebergergasse) because of its role during Nazi occupation. Hitler had established a Nazi memorial on the East side of the Field Marshall’s Hall in honor of his 16 comrades who died here in the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The memorial was guarded 24 hours a day and anyone who passed was required to give the Nazi salute. Citizens who didn’t agree with the Nazi movement would dodge the guards as they walked North from Max Joseph Square by taking a quick left at Viscard Alley passing the Field Marshall’s Hall on the West. Today a path of bronze bricks in the pavement has been bronzed to mark the route the dodgers would take to avoid the Nazi memorial.
At the mouth of the alley are two large lion statues marking the Western entrance into the Royal Residence. The lions, who were the symbol of the ruling Wittlesbach family stand guard while holding shield like coat of arms. Notice how the muzzle of the face on the shields are brightly polished? It is said that if you touch the face while you walk by it will bring you good luck. While the ticket office for the Residenz is on the Southeast corner of the complex, remember the corridor by the lions as it leads to the Palace’s Cuvilliés Theater.
23. Munich Royal Residence (Residenz):
As the new home for the rulers of Bavaria, expansions to Neuveste were quick to follow. Duke Albrecht V did the first major additions starting in the 1550s with a ballroom, a treasury, and our favorite room to visit today, the Antiquarium Hall. The Hall was built to house the Wittelsbach family’s huge collection of antiques, books and classic sculptures. Finished in 1568, the space quickly became known as the largest and most lavish Renaissance interior north of the Alps. The Antiquarim was later remodeled as a large festival and has been masterfully resorted from WW2 bombings.
The oddest set of rooms in the Rezidenz are the lavish Stone Rooms which were built in 1612 and filled with tapestries solely to house the Holy Roman Emperor when he would visit. These unbelievable marble rooms were almost never used which is strange for how cool they are. They didn’t even put furniture or tapestries in the rooms unless the Emperor was there. At about the same time the rooms were built, parts of Neueveste Castle and Silver Tower started to be torn down to make way for the expanding Palace, which by 1701 surrounded 4 courtyards.
Like many of the rulers before him, Albrecht VII also had big ambitions for putting his own stamp on the Residenz in 1726. The first project was the building of new Ornate Rooms to keep up with the other Palaces in Europe. This new wing was filled with apartments stocked with over the top in rich furniture, artwork and designer wallpaper. It seems like almost every inch of these rooms is filled with paintings. Over the years a number the Ornate Rooms have housed many important guests such as Elizabeth II. Albrecht VII also got working on the Ancestral Gallery with portraits tracing back his famous bloodlines. Historians widely view the gallery as propaganda, but it worked as Albrecht VII persuaded the people he was related to Charlemagne and was elected Holy Roman Emperor. Hidden in many of the paintings today are huge square slash marks from where they were quickly cut from their frames to preserve them right before World War 2 bombings.
The most beautiful space in the entire Palace maybe the Residence Theater (Cuvilliés-Theater), constructed by Elector Maximilian Joseph III (1745-77) in 1753. Originally this theater was located between the Residenz and the State Opera House, but it was leveled in World War 2. Luckily just before the bombings most of the Theater’s impressive interior was removed and stored for safekeeping until after the war. When the dust had settled from the war the Theater was rebuilt with the original woodwork where a ballroom from the 1500s once stood. Below the Theater are a series of Gothic cellars from the ballroom that once connected to Nueveste Castle until the last parts of the Castle burned down in 1750. While these cellars are all that remain from the castle, an outline of its original footprint shape has been created on the pavement in the Northern courtyard.
The last rounds of expansion happened in the after Bavaria officially became a Kingdom in 1806 under the rule of King Maximilian I Joseph. His son King Ludwig I (1825-1848) added a large Festival Hall Wing, the Kings Wing, and the unreal Court Church of All Saints. The Church was modeled after the Cappella Palatina in Palermo Sicily in a Byzantine-style and was filled with detailed golden mosaics. Unfortunately, the Church was heavily damaged in WW2 and none of the mosaics survived by the time it reopened as a concert venue in 2003. When King Ludwig II took over in 1864 he showed his flair for the dramatic by adding a huge greenhouse Winter Garden on the roof of the Northside of the Residenz. The Garden was meant to feel like a fairytale and had lighting for rainbow and moonlight effects. While it didn’t survive WW2, Ludwig’s masterpiece Neuschwanstein Castle two hours South of Munich is the most visited fairytale castle in Europe. After the revolution of 1918, the Wittlesbachs ended their 738-year rule and the Residenz immediately became a public museum.
Residence Hours: April-October 15th Daily 9am-6pm; October 16th-March Daily 10am-5pm (the Theater opens late Monday-Saturday at 2pm). Last entrance 1 hour before close. Entrance Cost: 7€ each for the Museum & Treasury or 11€ for both together, Theater is 3.5€, All 3 for 13€. All are covered by the Castle Pass. Orchestra Concerts: Every Thursday at 7pm and Saturday at both 6 and 7:30pm the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra has concerts in the same small wedding chapel Mozart played in for 21€. Hot Tips: If you plan on seeing other palaces and castles during your trip to Bavaria, we suggest getting the Bavarian Castles Pass which gets you into almost all Castles and Palaces for 14 days from your first use. This pass is 24€ for one person or 40€ for 2 adults plus your kids under 18 years old. Photos: (Residenz Layout Map | Antiquarium After WW2 | Neuveste in 1540 | Neuveste Cellars Today). 360 Degree Photos: (Antiquarium | Lion Statues | Portrait Gallery | Stone Rooms). Palace & Museum Website: (HERE).
24. Max Joseph Square:
About Max Joseph Platz: Even if you don’t have time for a show, the exterior of the Opera House looking down at the statue of ruler Max Joseph is still very impressive. Also consider grabbing a drink on the West side of the square at the outdoor tables to the Spatenhaus Beer Hall which has our favorite beer in Munich, Spaten.
Opera and the theater performances have both been big in Munich for 100s of years with opera companies operating here since the early 1600s. Maximilian I built the current Greek columned Opera House during his last year as King in 1825 after the original opera house burned down. The project was inspired by Pantheon in Rome and it covered with two impressive reliefs. The lower gable has a carved relief of Greeks gods flanking Apollo in the center. The upper gable is a beautiful golden mosaic with goddesses surrounding a bucking Pegasus. By the time it opened, the 2100 guest State Opera House was the largest in Europe. When Mad King Ludwig II took over in the 1860s he greatly expanded the Opera House’s offerings as he was obsessed with the work of Richard Wagner.
The Opera House was unfortunately turned to rubble during WW2 bombings, but it has since fully restored and today the building is grand as it ever was. Make sure to check out their website if you want to catch an opera or ballet. Opera House Guided Tours: 1 hour guided tours almost every day of the week at 2pm for 7€. The meeting point is on the Northern entrance toward Marstallplatz, and not Max Joseph Platz. Opera Website: (HERE).
25. Old Court Palace (Alter Hof):
About Alter Hof: The Old Royal Court (Alter Hof), was first built in the 1180s as a small royal estate for the Wittelsbach family who had just taken over the rule of Bavaria from Henry the Lion after he refused to fight for the Holy Roman Emperor. The family’s royal dynasty (1180-1918) over Bavaria would go on to last more than 700 years.
Between 1253-55, as Bavaria split into Upper & Lower states, Duke Ludwig II re-built and expanded Alter Hof turning it into the family’s formal Royal Court. This is also considered the point when the capital of Bavaria officially moved from Regensburg, Germany to Munich. In 1328 Ludwig IV, who was the 1st prince born in the new Alter Hof, became the King of Germany, the Romans, Italy and the Holy Roman Emperor. Ludwig IV’s rise power was also at the height of the regional salt trade and cemented the Wittelsbach’s as a major player in Europe.
As the Alter Hof grew, it was laid out with 5 wings around a central courtyard which housed farm-like gardens and Royal craftsmen. The palace grounds were home to many animals including pigs, chickens, horses, lions, and monkeys. One of the exhibits on display today has an interesting story about when a young prince Ludwig IV (mentioned above) was taken out of his crib as a baby and dangled high above a window by a pet monkey who eventually put him back unharmed. Today you will see monkeys painted on the outside of the turret windows inside Alter Hof’s central square called the Monkey Tower.
After a failed citizen’s uprising, the royal family built a small moated retreat called Neuveste Castle (now the Munich Residenz) for protection just North of Alter Hof in 1385. By 1474, the Wittelsbachs started to formerly split time between the two residences before official moving the Royal Court to Neuveste Castle in 1506 following the reunification of Upper & Lower Bavaria. After the move, Alter Hof was used to house government departments, a horse stable, and the royal mint while Neuveste was slowly expanded into today’s Munich Residenz Palace. You may remember the Munich Residenz from earlier in this free Munich walking tour.
While Alter Hof was heavily damaged in WW2, parts have been reconstructed to house exhibits where you can learn about its history and how day-to-day life was in a Medieval royal court. We find the Gothic Hall to be the most interesting of the exhibits today. Exhibit Cost: Free. Exhibit Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. Museum Website: (HERE).
26. Baker’s Mill Restaurant (Pfistermühle):
About Pfistermühle: What an amazing vine-covered building with an interesting history! Before becoming a restaurant in 1988, the Pfistermühle was part of the Royal baker’s mill (Hofpfisterei) for the Bavarian dukes going back to the Middle Ages. There was once a stream powering the mill running right down the middle Sparkassenstraße Street (covered since the early 1990s) which also served as the original moat for Munich. The current building was added as a baking and a storage house for the mill and built in 1573.
The Baker’s Mill Restaurant has great food and you are served in one of the mill’s four original storage vaults. These happen to be the only original Medieval storage vaults still maintained in Munich. It’s even more astonishing that this part of the building survives today as the mill was heavily bombed in WW2 and half of the complex had to be completely rebuilt which now is home to the neighboring Platz Hotel. The hotel is one of our favorite hotels in Munich as you can’t get closer to the Medieval city center. With the combination of beauty, history, and great food it is easy to have fond memories of Pfistermühle Restaurant.
Hours: Open Monday-Saturday Noon-Midnight; Closed Sundays. Reservations: Reservations are suggested and can be made on their website. Photos: (Bakery In 1897 | Back of Bakery 1907 | Stream 1907) Restaurant Website: (HERE).
27. Royal Beer Hall (Hofbräuhaus):
About The Hofbräuhaus: The Hofbrauhaus, or Royal Court Brew House, is by far the most popular beer hall in Munich and maybe the most magical in the World! While beer has been brewed in Munich since 1328, Duke Wilhelm V established this official Royal Court Brewery in 1589 as an alternative to expensively shipping in his favorite beers in from Hanover, Germany (Saxony). The current 3-story beer hall complex opened in 1607 as an expansion to brew Hofbrau’s wheat beer and visiting it was reserved for the Royal family and their guests only. Mozart and Austrian Empress Sisi were some of the esteemed royal guests who would often visit.
In 1828, King Ludwig I opened the Hofbrauhaus beer hall to the public allowing both rich and poor to experience the World-famous atmosphere. Ludwig’s involvement was fitting as the King’s 5-day wedding celebration in 1810 was the start of the modern Oktoberfest and also helped to unite commoners and the social elite. The brewery has sponsored a 10,000 person beer tent during Oktoberfest since 1955, but the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall has an excellent party atmosphere no matter what time of year you come.
Today, the Hofbrauhaus still brings people together with community seating, traditional barmaids, delicious German food, 1-liter glasses of golden Bavarian beer, smooth wine, and even live brass band oompah music. The food is not to be overlooked and is a highlight as much as the beer. Yes there are a lot of tourists at the Hofbrauhaus, but it’s still our favorite stop on this free Munich walking tour!
You will need to find a seat to get served at the Hofbrauhaus, but the community seating and friendly atmosphere make it easy to join other groups and make new friends. The only place you cannot sit is anywhere with a sign saying “Stammtisch”, which means it is reserved. Most of the 3,500 seats in spread throughout the beer hall’s rooms are open seating so don’t be afraid to join a table of strangers if there are spots available. The main floor is the most festive area and even has a lovely open-air beer garden with seating for 400 under the shade of chestnut trees near the beer pouring station. While on the way to the gift shop, check out the stein storage lockers called Masskrugtresor. There are a total of 424 mug lockers where local patrons store their custom steins between visits. The lockers, which cost 200 euros a year, are very prestigious and can now only be acquired through inheritance.
The upper floor of the Hofbrauhaus complex is often overlooked by tourists and holds a giant Festival Hall with a barrel ceiling. We LOVE the traditional Bavarian dance show held most evenings in the Festival Hall. Guests are enchanted by a musical program comprised of traditional Bavarian Schuhplattler dancers, alphorn players, yodelers, whip performers and cowbell players. It is in the 900 seat Festival Room that Hitler had some of his private meetings during the Nazi rise and occupation of Munich which were held at numerous beer halls. The most famous meeting in the Festival Hall was in 1920 where a speech Hitler gave which got him kicked out of the Bavarian army after unveiling his “25 Thesis”.
If you are feeling extra festive, wear your traditional lederhosen or dirndls to make friends even faster, just don’t wear tacky costume outfits from American Halloween shops, go in authentic gear. Also please don’t try to steal the beer steins. If you want a glass or stein to bring home, they do have a great gift shop where you can buy them.
Beer Hall Hours: Daily 9am-Midnight. Folk Buffet: On a lot of nights they have an all-you-can-eat Folk buffet upstairs for 20€ from 630-10pm. This buffet is heavy on music and folk dancing, but check out their website for a current event schedule. Drinking Tips: The 1-liter beer steins are called a ‘Mass,’ light beer is ‘helles,’ dark beer is ‘dunkel,’ and they also have a half beer/half lemon soda drink called ‘Radler’. Brewery Tours: You can also tour the official Hofbrau Brewery on the edge of town which is accessible in 40 minutes by the S2 Metro plus a short walk. (Address Hofbräuallee 1, More Info). Restaurant Website: (HERE).
Other Sights Near Old Town:
About The Munich Residenz: After a failed citizens uprising against the Wittelsbachs, the royal family started to build a small protected retreat along the city wall in 1385 called Neuveste. This was the perfect location for a retreat as it provided access to the countryside without going through town and was right next to the very strong Silver Tower (Silberturm). A defensive moat and separate wall were built around the small 4 winged castle which supplied ample defense. Starting in 1474 the royal family began to split time between Alterhof Palace and Neueste Castle. The full-time move to the castle became official when William IV set up the first Royal Court at Neuveste in 1508 following the reunification of Upper & Lower Bavaria and the castle remained the main home of the Wittelsbachs until the end of their reign in 1918.
28. English Garden Walking Tour:
About The English Garden: Sitting as one of the world’s largest urban parks, the English Garden is the biggest in Europe and is even larger than New York’s Central Park. There can be over 100,000 people a day here in the summer, but because the park is so vast you would never notice. While you may be tempted to skip the park if cramped for time, it is too unique to skip, and serves and a great stop to rest and recharge your batteries. The highlights include World-Class river surfing, nude sunbathers, the Chinese Tower Beer Garden, and the Monopteros hilltop acropolis. Beer Garden Hours: Daily 9am-Late. 360 Degree Panorama: Click Here.
Read More: English Garden Walking Tour.
29. Beer & Oktoberfest Museum:
About The Beer & Oktoberfest Museum: Housed in Munich’s oldest home from 1340, this museum highlights the history of Munich’s Beer as well as the Oktoberfest celebration. Our favorite element of the amazing home is the 3 story tall the Stairway to Heaven. In medieval times it was common of stairs in a house to go up all the floors in a continuous unbroken line. As you check out the Beer Museum you follow how the making of beer was perfected in Munich including original recipes from the 1400s. The Oktoberfest Museum is a awesome step back into time showing how the marriage reception for King Ludwig I in 1810 has turned into the modern Oktoberfest. Today 600,000 people a day visit the 10 day long celebration with is a mix of state fair and beer halls. You wont find a better party in the World than you do in Oktoberfest’s mega tents which hold 4,000-10,000 people each.
Make your trip to the Beer & Oktoberfest Museum special is grabbing a bite to eat at in the basement Museumsstueberl Cellar Restaurant (website). The food can be a little strong on the sauerkraut, but it is about as traditional as you’ll find in Munich. The setting can also be a very romantic place to grab a drink as the tables and chairs in the cave-like, stone walled room are actually mad out of old, wooden beer and wine kegs. Museum Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 1-6pm. Museum Cost: 4€. Underground Restaurant Hours: Monday-Saturday 6pm-Midnight. Museum Website: (HERE).
30. Isartor City Wall Gate:
About The Isartor Gate: In 1175, the first fortified wall around Munich was completed, but the city quickly outgrew that footprint. The city of Munich was greatly expanded when a second wall was built further out from 1285 to 1337 which increased the footprint by 700%. The wall was a masterpiece, complete with a moat and eight gates, up from the original four. If you look on the map above you can see this expansion that turned the formerly oval shaped Old Town area into more of a kidney bean shape. This footprint is very important to see to help you feel more connect to the city as you follow our free Munich walking tour map.
Maybe the most important gate on the newly expanded wall was the mighty Isartor River Gate. It was nearby that in 1156 Henry the Lion built his Ludwigsbrücke tool bridge to reroute the Salt Road from Bad Reichenhall and Hallein on its way to Augsburg through Munich and established it as a town. The new Isartor Gate helped provide a curtain to protect the town as is one of only three gates still standing. In 1835, the central tower was rebuilt and frescoes depicting the victorious return of Louis IV in 1322 after the Battle of Mühldorf. Louis’ victory over the Austrian Habsburgs helped earn him the title of Holy Roman Emperor and strengthen Munich as a powerhouse in the Salt Trade through the 1300s. Today the gate is a popular spot for photographers and the attached cafe is a favorite of locals. Photos: (Isartor Gate in 1600s).
31. St. Luke’s Church (St. Lukaskirche): The large St. Luke’s Church is pretty bland inside, but is one of the few churches in Munich that actually has an prominent and powerful exterior. Because the large church sits right on the route for Tram Line 17, it is easy to admire it as you pass by if you don’t have time to explore it.
*Tram 19 takes you over the river and Prater Island directly to the…
32. Bavarian Parliament (Maximilianeum): Home of the Bavarian Parliament, Maximilianeum is a great example of renaissance architecture. While there isn’t a ton to see inside Maximilianeum, the atmosphere at neighboring Wienerplatz and it’s beer garden HofbrauKeller make it worth the trip. Wienerpatz is a cute square located just southeast of Maximilianeum which has a quaint old-world feel, complete with it’s own Maypole . A favorite backdrop for photos on the square fits the square, the May Pole, and the towering St Johns church all in one picture. If you’re starting to run short on time, feel free to bypass this stop all together by riding on Tram #17 all the way 17 to 19. 360 Degree Panorama: Click Here. Photos: (Wienerplatz).
*Tram 18 is the easiest way to get to the…
33. Deutsches Museum: Huge museum of arts and science spread out in a campus of buildings. It is Germany’s equivalent to the American Smithsonian in Washington DC. Great for kids and families. Restaurant Website: (HERE).
*Also sitting on the route for Tram 18 is one of Munich’s hidden gems, the…
34. Munich Puppet Theater (Münchner Marionettentheater): If you have never witnessed a classic Marionette production this is your chance. Skilled puppeteers carefully maneuver wooden characters, making them truly come to life with every string movement. The range of shows that are preformed in Munich is pretty big, but even if you aren’t familiar with the work the show will be amazing. Theater Website: (HERE).
35. Awesome Museums: A cluster of great museums often overlooked by tourists. Glyptohek Museum Built from 1813-1860. Is Munich’s oldest public museum; the only museum in the world that is solely dedicated to ancient sculpture. Pinakothek Art Museum is made up of a building for modern art and another for the classic