You get an A if you get the musical inspiration for my title today! :)
Those who know me well, know that I sing when I am happy… there are then lots of songs in my head… swirling and dashing and tinkling for my attention. And I am often most happy when I get to pound the pavement of a new city.
The old, central part of Munich is perfect to explore by foot – whether it’s exploring the little side streets, the alleyways turned into shops, the gardens with their shady spots, or to go from historical site to site,… it’s a great place to wander and wonder.
Especially if you add in some sunshine and warm weather and ice cream shops! :)
Despite appearances, I did more in Munich than eat! The city has lovely boutiques, beautiful architecture, and innovative blending of old and new. Of course, badly damaged during the Second World War, much of Munich HAD to be rebuilt. And it says a lot about German focus and get-it-done attitude to see the new flank the old, and sometimes even become one.
A few of my favorite things:
– The Staatskanzlei – The Bavarian State government building. Here old and new very clearly blend into one. The building is located on the edges of Munich’s infamous and lovely English Garden – a massive man-made garden, larger than Central Park, and home in the summer to Munich’s nude sun-bathers. Right between the English Garden and the Hofgarten – the former garden of the Residenz palalce, the State government building was once a military
barrack along the lines of Hotêl Des Invalides in Paris. Heavily bombed in the war, it lost both of it’s former ‘wings.’ Bomb markings still are visible on the columsn of what remains. Rebuilt in glass and steel – the new wings are part of a silent promise that government will be clear and transparent. A good promise regardless!
– The Residenz Palace – My goal was actually to get out of Munich and spend time in some of the palaces around the city… but my curiosity was wetted when I was near the palace one evening for the opera :) And what an experience! If you’ve been to Versailles… then this will leave you in awe! Especially
when you see how MUCH there has already been repaired and restored! You can choose the long or the short tour… note that the long tour is not for sissies. You can walk through at your own pace (definitely a good place to make use of the free audio guide) but even then the long tour is several hours. But man! It is WORTH IT! An incredible testament to the power, wealth and former glory of the Bavarian Wittelsbach royal family, who began building this palace as a fortress in 1508. Dukes of the wealthy state of Bavaria until Napoleon raised them to the position of kings in 1806, there is a lot of pomp and circumstance even in the still and cold marble.
– Alte Pinakothek – Munich has a museum quarter that has a stunningly modern Egyptian art museum (I’ve been to London… so until I go to Egypt, it seems odd to look at Egyptian art in Munich!), cool concrete blocks with tons
of modern art, and of course edgy and nude photo galleries.
Not my love.
I spent a day full of wonder in the Alte Pinakothek – the art museum housing painting from ~1300 to ~1800… WOW! What a collection! Da Vinci! Raphael! Jordaens! Durer! Rubens! Van Dyck! Tintoretto! Murillo! And for sentimental personal reasons… Van Wittel! and… Boucher!
The museum is one of the best Early Modern – Renaissance art museums I’d been in. Unlike the Louvre – which is too big, and the Vatican, which is too far from gelatto… this was just perfect! Open and flowing spaces mixing modern and ancient, cool parquet interior flooded with lots of natural light, and small crowds – all for the amazing fee of only ONE euro!
I wouldn’t mind getting lost in there and never being able to get out!
– Munich’s Churches – Munich for me is a city of churches and bells. Bells that wake, bells that ring for 15 minutes at lunch, bells that serenade you on your way to dinner, bells that tell me that I am not really traveling alone.
I spent an entire day going from church to church. I started at the Bürgersaal, one of the oldest churches in Munich and an incredible colorful space. Make sure to visit the upper church which is open from 11am until 5pm daily.
Then Michaelskirche – the largest late-Renaisssance religious structre north of the Alps. Modeled on Il Gesu in Rome, also a Jesuit church, it’s barrel vaulting over the nave, is, according to the guide, the second largest space after St. Peter’s in Rome. Sitting in Michaelskirche, you escape from the noise and chaos of Neuhauser Strasse (which leads out of Marienplatz… which you want to get the heck out of RIGHT AWAY! Take the pic of the pretty buildings and then go!) Neuhauser Strasse is dotted with H&Ms and Pinkies and McDonalds and crowds and holding your bag tight. You sit here in Michaelskirche, and it’s quiet and calm and light. Amazingly light and quiet. And then the organ plays.
I have great luck with churches and organs. Maybe it’s because that’s my place… my way… to communicate with God. To sit in a quiet church, on a hard wooden pew, with nothing in me or swirling through me other than awe at beauty and appreciation for the chance… and then.. in that sound… in the beauty and the trill beneath your feet and the reverberation in your teeth.. you have a moment.
The Frauenkirche – Munich’s official Cathedral and the twin-domed spires that feature so prevalently in all the tourist pictures and such. Worth the visit to see if you can find the spot, where, according to myth, the builder of the church told the devil he should stand and from there he’d be unable to see any windows. Make sure to appreciate the windows – old and new :)
– When you leave the Frauenkirche, heading towards the Residenz, there is the Fünfhöfe – A series of ‘five’ networked old passsages and new buildings that has been smartly connected into a ‘covered’ mall of cafes and shops and restaurants. A great place to browse the Munich stores! NO tourists in sight, and a combo of comfort and quality and price. You’ll find anything from MUJI to Stephanel, MaxMara and Furla to the Emporio Armani Cafe and local brands worth the browse :)