Hello my dear readers,
Ready for another trip?
Today let’ discover Munich, Germany.
Rich in gardens and royal palaces, Munich is a true architectural marvel. Surely you know it as the homeland of the Oktoberfest, but Munich is not only this, it is also culture with its art galleries of great importance, technology, sport and history, so much history, made of churches with bell towers that almost touch the sky, with commemorative works and much more.
Munich is a city that respects all the clichés that the collective imagination has attributed to it. Usually, when you think of this town protected by the Alps, cozy breweries and cordial faces comes to your mind, beautiful and ancient buildings that tell us of a glorious past.
Munich is exactly as one can imagine it: full of beer, history and friendliness. Can be defined without exaggeration as the “other” capital of Germany, a second Berlin in which modernity has not swept away tradition. The most famous beer festival in the world, the “Oktoberfest”, is a clear example of how past habits have become an active part of the present in Munich.
The historical center of the city is the concrete example of how the past and present of Monaco are part of a single, harmonious context. In fact, in the central square are the Alte and the Neue Rathaus, old and new town hall, one built around the 400, the other dating back to the beginning of the 900. The two municipalities draw an interesting path through the history of the city, through the Gothic architecture that give Munich a timeless beauty. The streets of the city have seen the passage of important historical figures such as the great composer Wolfgan Amadeus Mozart, who in Munich sought a job at the court of the Wittelsbach family, who ruled the Bavarian city for about 800 years, to Pope Benedict XVI who was the Archbishop of Munich.
The old (Altes) and the new (Neues) town hall of Monaco are two of the most beautiful and interesting buildings in the whole city. Are located in the center of Munich, on the sides of the Marienplatz, the square dedicated to the Madonna, whose statue is in the center of the square.
On the beautiful Gothic façade of the Neues Rathaus is the Glockenspiel, the carillon clock, embellished with animated statues. At 11 and 12 o’clock (in the summer also at 5 pm), the bells of the Glockenspiel ring and the characters on the façade begin to move to the delight of tourists who remain with their noses in the air. The movements of the statuettes recall the traditional dance staged by horse dealers to avert the plague.
The Altes Rathaus was almost entirely rebuilt after the war, but attempts were made to maintain the original style of the building. Inside the “old town hall” there is a beautiful collection of ancient toys and from the top of the building you can see entire Munich from above. The sight is suggestive, but the 306 steps to climb to reach the top may not be so pleasant but is well worth it. The square is dominated by the bell tower of Alter Peter, better known as the Peterskirche (Church of St. Peter), the oldest church in Munich.
The royal residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty is one of the most spectacular palaces in all Europe: inside the various members of the family have contributed to beautify and enlarge the structure, giving life to a real museum of works of art.
Construction works on the building began around 400, when the Wittelsbachs realized that they were no longer so well-liked and they could not live anymore in the “Alter Hof”, a house that was not excessively fortified. The Residenz, in fact, was built following the revolt of some peasants who targeted the royal house. So it was that the royals decided to build a more impressive and above all fortified palace. One of the entrances, the one overlooking Max-Joseph-Platz, was inspired by the famous Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The oldest facade of the building has two large portals, guarded by a statue of the Madonna. Inside the “Ahnengalerie”, the gallery of the ancestors, really leaves you breathless for the beauty of the frescoes that frame the representations of the Wittelsbachs. The entrance is kept at bay by four bronze lions that, according to legend, were caressed by the military before leaving for wars as a superstitious gesture. It is not known how many of them returned to caress them though.
The Cathedral of Our Lady (Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau) is the imposing building that dominates the city of Munich. Built between 1468 and 1488 in pure Gothic style, the Cathedral was built on the remains of an ancient Romanesque basilica.
The brick façade accompanied by two columns 99 meters high, give the Cathedral of Our Lady of Munich a grim and severe appearance. The brass domes mounted on the top of the two towers have a very particular shape: they are usually called the “onions”. The bombing of the Second World War seriously damaged the Frauenkirche which, with the restoration work completed in 1994, regained the ancient and severe aspect of the Cathedral of Our Lady.
In the pavement of the Church there is a tile on which is imprinted a foot, called “The imprint of the Devil”. It is said that the builders of the Church challenged Satan, stating that they would build a Cathedral without windows. Looking at the altar from where the footprint is, the windows are covered by the columns: apparently, thanks to this trick, the builders managed to win the bet with the Devil, who realized he had been fooled only after the consecration of the Cathedral.
Kunstareal, is “the art area”, the neighborhood built in the first half of the nineteenth century with the aim of concentrating the real institutions that hosted works of art from all over the world in a single area of the city. Inside the Kunstareal are the three most important and spectacular art galleries in Munich: Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne. From the Italian Renaissance to the works of the French, Spanish and Flemish masters, up to the modern art of Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, in these three art galleries all tastes are really satisfied.
But the Kunstareal district also houses the Lenbachhaus, the museum dedicated to impressionism, expressionism and art nouveau. The Munich museum complex also offers an important insight into the history of ancient art, with collections of works from Greek and Roman cultures, housed in the Glyptothek and Staatliche Antikensammlungen. You will be surprised and enthralled by the richness of the museums at the Kunstareal.
The Deutsches Museum in Munich is the largest museum dedicated to science and technology ever made in the world. There are about 28,000 objects on display for the enchanted eyes of the many visitors who, in every period of the year, crowd the halls of the Museum.
In addition to the grandeur, beauty and vastness of the exhibition, another peculiarity of the Deutsches Museum in Munich is that it is built on the small island of Kohleinsel, island of coal, later renamed Museumsinsel, museum island. The headquarters of the museum, in fact, stands in the middle of the Isar river that runs through the entire city of Munich.
The Deutsches Museum in Munich is a special attraction for both adults and children, for which special attractions, surprises and games have been set up within the museum. Walking through the rooms you will see the first models of inventions, which today are an integral part of everyday life: from the first Benz motor car, to the first diesel engine, to the first equipment used to discover nuclear fission.
The English garden of Munich is the beautiful green lung of the Bavarian city, which extends for about four kilometers. It is one of the largest parks in the world and is highly appreciated by both Munich citizens and tourists.
It was built in 1789 as a garden for the military, but in the early nineteenth century it was also allowed for civilians, transforming the “Englischer Garten” into the first public park in Germany. One of the peculiarities of the park is that inside, near the entrance, it houses an area reserved for nudists. In summer, in fact, the park is ideal for enjoying some sun, swimming or just spending a few hours in contact with nature. In some areas it is possible to see young enthusiasts who even surf, using the jumps of the streams.
To celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwing I of Bavaria a big party was organized that lasted from 12 to 17 October 1810. The main attractions of the celebration days were the horse race and the famous Bavarian beer.
The success of the party was such that it was decided to repeat it every year: the Munich Oktoberfest was born. The event gathers around six million visitors a year under the huge tents set up in the area of the Theresienwiese (gardens), where liters and liters of the most famous Bavarian beer brands are served.
In Munich, the climate is continental, with cold winters and mild summers. Being located close to the Alps, the city is exposed to waves of frost from the mountains, making it one of the coldest city in all of Germany, while in summer it is subject to heavy thunderstorms. During the autumn season, however, a warm dry wind coming down from the southern Bavarian Alps, the Fohn, can cause sudden increases in temperature and drops in relative humidity. Generally, however, temperatures fluctuate between 0° C in the cold months and 19° C in the summer months with abundant rainfall between May and August.
The best time to visit Monaco from the climatic point of view is between August and October, when the temperatures are still pleasantly warm and the fairly frequent sunny days will allow you to roam freely around the city, without having to run looking for shelter to escape the sudden storms.
Unfortunately, however, it is also the most requested and therefore most expensive period since the last two weeks of September is the Oktoberfest. If you are not particularly interested in this event, even if I strongly recommend it if you decide to visit Munich, you could opt for the summer months, and in particular in June and July.
Munich is a very rich city and finding cheap hotels is really difficult. I do not say that it is impossible but will be very tough even going out of the city center. At this point it is better to choose a hotel close to the main places of interest. Spending on sleeping in Munich will be one of the highest things from your travel budget, but you may console yourself with the fact that the service will be worth it.
Munich is the most important city in this part of Bavaria, and its proximity to the Pre-Alps and the Alps makes it a place of mixture between the more rigorous Teutonic characters and the “softer” ones of the part bordering Central-Southern Europe. All this is reflected in every single aspect of the Bavarian identity, including its cuisine which, in hindsight, as a dominant trait certainly has various meat dishes to which it is inevitable to accompany a good mug of beer!
You can’t go to Munich and not spend an evening in a brewery eating sausages and drinking lots of ale. It may be banal, taken for granted and even a bit old-fashioned, but it is something to absolutely do.
The bretzel, the softer version of the pretzel, is one of the symbols of the German-speaking countries, to which each area gives a different name. It is a bread made of soft wheat flour, malt, brewer’s yeast and water, to which lard is often added, or another type of flour is used, such as wholemeal flour, spelled or other cereals. The bretzel is prepared according to the so-called Laugenbach method, ie the procedure by which the bread, before cooking, is immersed for a few seconds in boiling water and caustic soda: it is this last one that gives that external shiny appearance, after which it is cooked then all traces of the chemical will be lost. At home, instead, simple baking soda is used. Its origin dates back to the French and northern Italy monasteries, as they were the small prize that the monks used to give to the children who memorized the verses of the Bible. They go with almost everything and have that unmistakable taste.
Knodel or Canéderli, the big dumplings made with simple stale bread, are real delights, essential if you want to know the true cuisine of Munich and its surroundings, although it is a popular dish both in northern Italy and in German-speaking countries. The knodel is the classic so-called “empty the fridge” food, as it is possible to use various ingredients along with leftover bread. They usually have the shape of balls of 4-6 cm which go very well with goulash, sauerkraut, cabbage, chicory.
Weisswurst is a specialty that cannot be missed in Bavarian cuisine: a sausage made from boiled white meat, recipe that some says date back to 1313. Another rather appreciated variation is the Bratwurst, a sausage generally based on red and grilled meats.
A real institution in Munich is the famous pork knuckle, which restaurants and clubs of all kinds successfully repeat throughout the world, with additions and modifications to the original recipe. However, if you want to understand and taste the true essence of this recipe, you must necessarily eat it in Bavaria. Here it is cooked with the skin on, in order to create a real tasty crust, which gives the dish that added value that makes it unique. The pork knuckle is the tradition, the present and the future of Bavarian cuisine, because it draws its origins from the peasant roots, which have always been based above all on substantial flavors and meat. Usually served with potatoes, especially roasted, and also with sauerkraut.
Prinzregentetorte or Prince Regent’s Cake, we could call it the Sacher Torte of Bavaria, for its importance and goodness: known at the level of the famous Viennese cake, its attribution is uncertain, even if in general they tend to give the authorship to Heinrich Georg Erbhäuser, appointed pastry chef of the court of Luitpold of Bavaria, after he created the recipe for the regent’s 65th birthday. The original recipe is a set of at least 6 discs, but usually 7 such as the Bavarian government districts, of cookie dough brushed with apricot jam, alternated with layers of chocolate butter cream, covered with chocolate icing. Today the most common variant is to use sponge discs.
I’m lucky enough that my sister lives in Munich and I had the chance to visit the city several times but is that kind of city that every time you go is a different experience.
If you have the chance go for it as is really worth it.
Thank you all for reading.
Join me next time as is time for another delicious recipe.
And if you enjoy traveling as much as I do, you may visit my other posts and discover our world one step at the time.
Photo credit: Google Images & Pixabay, edited by Popsicle Society