Uncover The Treasures of Munich

The Best Things to do in Munich in 5 Days

The capital of Bavaria, the third-largest city in Germany (1.45 million inhabitants), is situated on the banks of the Isar, on an extensive plateau, 519 meters. above the sea, and presents a very picturesque sight, especially from the charming walks that lead from the “Maximiliansanlagen” high above the Isar to the suburbs of Au-Haidhausen and Giesing, and also from the terrace by the Peace Monument (Angel of Peace) in Prinzregentenstrasse.

Of all the monuments in Munich’, few are as striking or dominating as Friedensengel or the Angel of Peace.

Starting from the Main Railway Station, an imposing building begun by Friedrich Bürklein in 1847 and very much enlarged over the decades, we see, behind the great Department Store of Karstadt, the Building of Justice (Justizpalast) between the Prielmayerstrassse and the Elisenstrasse.

The Justizpalast Munich are two courthouses and administrative buildings in Munich.

From here the Luisenstrasse to the left of the Bahnhofsplatz, and then the semicircular Sophienstrasse used to lead to The Glaspalast (Crystal Palace).  An enormous building, entirely of glass and iron occupying an area of about 3 acres.  It was completed in 8 months in 1854, after the plans of August von Voit.  Between 1889 and 1931, the Society of Artists held its Annual Exhibition here.  The Munich Glass Palace was burnt down on 6th July 1931.  The alarm was triggered at 3:30 am, and by the morning only fuming debris, molten glass and bent steel beams were left.

Today, a recreational area in the heart of Munich,  the Alter Botanischer Garten was originally planned as a botanical garden area at the beginning of the 19th century, and today functions as a public park, can certainly look back on a turbulent history.

Neptunbrunnen is a fountain located in the Alter Botanischer Garten
Neptunbrunnen is a fountain located in the Alter Botanischer Garten.

From here and northwards through the Katharina von Bora Strasse to the Karlstrasse, you arrive at the St. Boniface’s Abbey, one of the finest churches in Munich, begun for King Ludwig I. in 1835 (on the occasion of His Majesty’s silver-wedding) and completed in 1850 by Georg Friedrich Ziebland.

St. Boniface’s Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Maxvorstadt, Munich.

The architect had been sent by the king to Rome in order to design for St. Boniface, the apostle to the Germans, an edifice in the style of the oldest Christian churches, such as had been revived in the re-building of the church dedicated to Paul, the apostle of the world, and preserved till 1823. The exterior is of brick without stucco. The simple decorations are in the Romanesque style and the portico with its 8 columns is after the model of the ancient basilicas in Rome. The interior is striking and imposing.

Westwards the Karlstrasse leads into the Luisenstrasse and this street again into the Briennerstrasse where you will find the Propylaea. The Briennerstrasse leads eastwards through the Propylaea direct to the Konigsplatz, which is adorned with three magnificent edifices executed by order of King Ludwig I.

The Propylaea

A building of Untersberg marble in Graeco- Doric style, and of historical importance on account of the connection of the House of Wittelsbach with Greece, were erected after the designs of Leo von Klenze from 1846 to 1860.

Propylaea city gate on Koenigsplatz square.

The Glyptothek

Ludwig I. had visited Italy as Crown Prince in 1804 immediately after the declaration of his coming of age. There, when only 19, he determined to form a collection of original works of antique sculpture at his own expense. In those days of political excitement, he succeeded in a comparatively short time by his artistic taste and commercial talents, in winning (not without great difficulties) for his northern home one of the most important collections of antique sculptures. For the worthy reception of the numerous treasures thus won, the building of the Glyptothek after the plans of the German architect Leo von Klenze was already decided upon in 1816. The aim of these plans was to unite the beauty of Greek architectural form with the practical and efficient construction of Roman style.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen

This fine building was erected from 1838 to 1848 by Ziebland in the Corinthian style (as the third classic style after the Doric of the Propylaea and the Roman of the Glyptothek).  22 steps lead up to a Corinthian vestibule with 8 columns. In order to get the light from above, all side-windows were avoided, the walls being joined only by pilasters.

The pediment contains a marble group by Ludwig von Schwanthaler, a German sculptor who taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and it was fully reconstructed according to plans by Johannes Ludwig, 1963-67.

The Obelisk

The Briennerstrasse leads again eastwards to the Karolinenplatz. The Obelisk (29 meters high and constructed out of bronze plates over brick), in the centre, was erected by King Ludwig I. in 1833 to the memory of the 30 000 Bavarian soldiers who fell in Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.

Obelisk at the Karolinenplatz in Munich.

The Old Pinakothek

A  collection of paintings of celebrated old masters from the 14th to the 18th centuries, When in 1821 the Bavarian collection of paintings numbered 7500 in consequence of the addition of the pictures from the galleries at Zweibriicken, Mannheim and Düsseldorf, and from the suppressed monasteries, King Maximilian I. decided to have a special building erected by the architect Klenze for a collection to be carefully chosen from this motley.  As the amount necessary for this elaborate plan was not granted by the Chambers, and as King Maximilian I. had died in 1825, the new King Ludwig I. advanced 500,000  florins out of his own pocket, in order to complete the building in a manner worthy of the object.  This building was then put up from 1826-36 after Klenze’s plans in the “Late Renaissance Palace Style”.

The Alte Pinakothek is an art museum located in the Kunstareal area in Munich.

The Siegstor

The Siegestor (Gate of Victory) which according to the inscription was dedicated by Ludwig I. to the “Bavarian Army”.  Designed in 1844 by Friedrich von Gartner after the model of the Arch of Constantine at Rome, it was finished after his death (1847) by Eduard Metzger.  It is surmounted by “Bavaria” in a quadriga drawn by four lions, cast by Ferdinand von  Miller.

Above the side-arches are rectangular reliefs with warriors in antique costumes; above again in medallions are the Bavarian districts. All the sculptures were made by Johann Martin von Wagner in smaller models according to the king’s suggestions. They were executed by Schopf, Schaller and Halbig.

The Siegestor in Munich is a three-arched triumphal arch crowned with a statue of Bavaria with a lion-quadriga.

The Siegestor terminates the Ludwigstrasse, the magnificent street in which all the public buildings were once erected by King Ludwig I.  Northwards from the Siegestor the Leopoldstrasse leads to Schwabing.

The University

The University, built in the Romanesque style from Italian models by Friedrich von  Gartner in 1835-41. The main storey has finely clustered round-headed windows.  The university square, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, with its fountains, is mirrored on the other side of the street by Professor-Huber-Platz.

On the left is the Ludwigskirche, erected in 1829-44, in the Italian Romanesque style by Gartner according to King Ludwig’s orders “to leave room enough for the monumental painting of religious subjects after the manner of Upper and Middle Italy, and also to close the choir straight with a plain wall as in the Capella Sistina in Rome”.

The Catholic Parish and University Church of St. Ludwig.

The facade (in white limestone) contains in the middle division,  the colossal statues of Christ and the 4 Evangelists by Schwanthaler, and above them a large rosette with the statues of St. Peter (left) and St. Paul (right) by Ludwig von Schwanthaler.  At the ends of the facade rise the two towers (63 meters high) which after the Italian manner are wide apart, slant off at the top from squares into octagons, and have pyramidal steeples made of slabs of stone and ornamented with deep reliefs. The roof is covered with variegated tiles in mosaics.

The State Library

The Library is a very large building, erected in 1832-43, for Ludwig I.  in the Romanesque Florentine style from the designs of Gartner, and has many divided semicircular arched windows which are surrounded by a strong moulding of coloured bricks. With its collections currently comprising around 10.36 million books, it ranks among the best research libraries worldwide.

Bavarian State Library.

Statue of Ludwig I

South of the Sate Library building is The Odeonsplatz with the Bronze Equestrian Statue of Ludwig I., modelled by the sculptor Max von Widnmann, cast by Miller, and dedicated “by the grateful city of Munich” in 1862. On each side of the royal rider is a page holding a tablet with Ludwig’s motto of “Gerecht” and “Beharrlich” (“Just” and “Persevering”). On the pedestal: Poetry and Religion in front; Art and Industry behind, in bronze.

Monument to King Ludwig I.

Equestrian statue of Elector Maximilian I.

Behind the Odeonsplatz is the Wittelsbacher Platz with the Palais Ludwig Ferdinand, an early 19th-century palace designed by Leo von Klenze. In the centre of the square is The Equestrian Statue of the Elector Maximilian I., modelled for Ludwig I. by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor, at Rome in 1833-36, and cast by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier. From an artistic point of view it is perhaps the most perfect monument in Munich.

Equestrian statue of Elector Maximilian Churfuerst Von Bayern.

The Feldherrnhalle

The Feldherrnhalle, or Hall of the Generals, erected by Gartner at the expense of Ludwig I. in 1841-44. In 1906 two grand stone lions were added by Wilhelm von Rümann.

The Feldherrnhalle was a symbol of the honours of the Bavarian Army, represented by statues of two military leaders Tilly and Wrede.

When the Ludwigstrasse was filled with buildings, the inner half with Renaissance buildings by Klenze, and the outer half with Italo-Romanesque buildings by Gartner, the King wished to have at the south end near the boundary between the old and new towns an edifice, which, resembling the Loggia dei Lanzi on the Piazza dei Signori at Florence, should form a grand portico open on three sides towards the new town, as the representative of the Signoria, i.e. of the power of the state.

In the spacious loggia, on high pedestals of granite are three bronze statues namely the generals Karl Philipp von Wrede and Johann Tilly, cast by Ferdinand von Miller from models by Schwanthaler, and (since 1891) a monument, presented by the Prince Regent and dedicated to the Bavarian army of the war of 1870, modelled and cast by Miller.  A warrior, in a Roman helmet and with a banner, protects Peace in the person of a woman; below is a lion.

Palais Preysing

Adjoining the Feldherrnhalle is the former Palace of Count Preysing, built in 1720—40 in the most magnificent rococo style. The palace became the property of a bank in 1835 and was completely restored in 1899.  It served upscale social and gastronomic purposes until its destruction in the Second World War.  It has been used commercially since rebuilding by the architect Erwin Schleich in 1958-60.

The facade of the Preysing Palais.

The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan

The Church of the Theatines to St. Cajetan, founded in consequence of a vow of the Electress Adelheid (who remained childless during the eight years following her marriage) by her husband, Ferdinand Maria, after the birth of the heir-apparent in 1662, and executed in rich baroque style by the Italian Agostino Borella in 1662-75. The facade was finished by the Frenchman Cuvilles, architect to the court at Munich, in rococo style, but yet in harmony with the earlier architecture. At the sides of the front next to the aisles are two comparatively fine towers finished in 1696, and above the quadrature is a vaulted dome. On the facade below are the statues of St. Cajetan and St. Maximilian, and above, those of St. Adelheid and St. Ferdinand.

The Interior still shows the after effects of the Later Renaissance style, but the overcharging with stucco ornaments, the extravagance and colossal size of the figures, and the arbitrary interchange of the orders, detract from the grand total effect.

The church has a nave and two aisles with transepts and a mighty dome 63 meters high above the quadrature.

The Residenz

Opposite the Church of the Theatines is The Residenz Complex. The first palace on this site was built on the east side (Marstallplatz) in 1392 and was called the “Neue Veste” (New Fortress).  After a great fire, Duke Maximilian began the erection of the present “Alte Residenz” between the Kapellenhof and the present Konigsbauhof, along the Residenzstrasse, the Grottenhof forming the centre. The architect was Hans Reifenstuel of Munich. In 1612-18 the northern part of this now “Old” Palace was erected around the Kaiserhof by Heinrich Schon, also of Munich.

The Munich Residence.

The numerous inner courtyards are a characteristic feature of the Residence. Most of them were created when new buildings were connected to existing ones as the complex was continuously extended.

The Fountain Courtyard (Brunnenhof).
The Fountain Courtyard (Brunnenhof).

The last Bavarian King, Ludwig III, abdicated in 1918, and in 1920 his sumptuously decorated and furnished palace was opened to the public as a museum.  The palace suffered heavy damage by bombing during the Second World War, but all moveable furniture and furnishings had been removed to places of safety and survived.

The Munich Residence has been open to the public as a museum since 1920 and is today one of the most important palace museums in Europe.

The Maximilianstrasse

This is the finest and most frequented street in Munich. It is 1200 meters long with many stately buildings on both sides, and in its narrower part with rows of shops, which are among the finest in the city.

The street was laid out by King Maximilian II. with the assistance of the town after the plans of Bürklein and Zenetti in 1852. King Maximilian was desirous that the buildings in this street should receive a common character, and with his predilection for the Romanesque style, he cast about a new style adapted to the spirit of the times, taking the mediaeval style as a foundation.

The District Government Of Upper Bavaria is located at Maximilianstrasse 39.

The Maxmonument

A magnificent monument, modelled by Zumbusch, cast by Miller, architecturally arranged by Hugel, and according to the inscription “erected by his faithful people” in 1875.

The king, in his coronation robes, in his attitude, posture and expression, looks as royal as he does complaisant and amiable. He leans with his left hand on his sword and holds the role of the constitution in his right. On the socle are: Peace, at the front, Enlightenment, on the left, Justice, on the right, and Strength, towards the east (by their uniform grouping they symbolise the king’s character); above on the corners are four child-shaped figures with the coats-of-arms of the four tribes of the Bavarians.

Maxmonument in Maximilianstrasse.


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