Arriving in Munich, we were greeted by a heavy “homelike” snowfall. Munich is an interesting remodelling of a city, Munich is 60-80% concrete, rebuilt after the war. When Hitler started to understand the damage the war would eventually cause, (again thinking he was going to win), he thought it would be a shame to come out of such a war losing a place like Munich. He ordered incredibly detailed photographs of everything in the city. Down to a cannon ball in the roof of a church. (More detail on that later)
Marienplatz is one of the central squares of Munich, enclosed by the new town hall and the old town hall, the old town hall being newer than the new town hall one of the oldest buildings in the area at 100 years. The new town hall is the gothic style building from the first few pictures above and the new town hall is the white concrete building. These buildings formed a cross with some of the churches in the area which the allied armies used as a target. They were some of the few to survive the war in the area other than the old town hall which was accidentally blasted. In the centre of Marienplatz square is a statue of Mary, the patron saint of Bavaria. The statue itself is from 1590. One of the ancient kings of Bavaria had statue built to put on his grave, he thought he had saved the Bavarians from destruction by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War and that his prayer to Mary was to thank for it. The pillar was later installed in 1638 after the people of Munich stole the statue off the kings grave to pay for a debt he had created. The son of the king had the pillar built as a symbol of the cities gratitude to Mary and nobody has been able to steal the statue again. (But people have tried)
Part of the new town hall is a reenactment of some of the most important parts of bavarian history.
The Glockenspiel is the second highest overrated sight in Europe, the first is the Prague Astronomical Clock. Part of the show is a wedding, there is a joust and of course there is a bird cawing to end it all! The best part is you can see it! (Just click the links)
The church of St Peters was restored after World War II, even the cannonball in the corner of the window was put back. When Hitler had his men take pictures of Munich they kept such good detail that when a doctor with a cannonball came to authority years after the end of the war claiming it was shaken loose during the war they were able to reinstall it where it had originally been after an Austrian attack 200 years earlier. This building, recording back as far as the year 800 was originally occupied by monks. This original record is the tax keepers visiting the church and finding out they made excellent beer! The monks originally said there were only six of them, however later they were found out to have many more people. Time is very important to the Germans, it is very important that people always arrive when scheduled. this probably explains why one of the churches in the square has 8 clocks on it. Thats right 8! Just in case one stops working there are still 7 backups.
One of the most important parts of our trip in Munich was beer, and that was not just in time spent in pubs! The stories here all seem to link back to some type of beer.
Augustiner and Hofbrau are two of the six famous Munich beers. The Hofbrauhaus being the most famous beerhall in the world and Augustiner beer being the most popular beer among the people of Munich being chosen by a incredible 90% of its hometown. Augustiner does not export its beer anywhere outside of Munich, they use nothing but the three main ingredients in beer, and on top of all that, 1/3 of all profits form this beer are given to charities in Munich.
The Hofbrohaus is a huge place, a pub on the bottom level, multiple pubs, restaurant and a members only club on the second level and the beerhall on the third level, this place has a lot of history. Originating in 1586, the most famous beerhall in the world has had its ups and downs, burning and being rebuilt, having visitors like Mozart and JFK and being the starting grounds for Hitler and the Nazi party. The American President Kennedy was banned from this pub for life as he attempted to walk out with two litre glasses of beer in each hand after a party one night. Most of it today is remade and painted in the style it had been in its glory however at one time all the detail from the roof and walls were carved in to wood. There is also a horse step left behind from old times when people would have to stumble out of the bar and use the step to get on to their horse for the more sober bar attendant to hit the horse and send it running home.
The Munich theatre has had many troubles in its times. This has been a favourite building of many kings of Bavaria, its a good thing too, because that is the only reason it is still around today. After already having had two fires, the next architect of the building had an ingenious idea! He had a sort of pool built on top of the building as some sort of sprinkler system. This was all fine and good for the king so they had the building built but it took many years to complete, before the building even saw its grand opening, the sprinkler system was tested! It did not succeed. As you can see from many of these pictures, Munich is the type of city that does get snow during winter, a pool on top of a building in that case… ice does not turn fires out very quickly. Eventually, the king did get his theatre and this one now has been up for a few years without seeing a fire.
The other building in these pictures was originally a two story stable. The strange part, is that there is no way to get from the first floor to the second (for human or horse). It was being built for one of the kings of the time, and the contractor was payed with beer in advanced. The contractor then drank all the beer, and passed away. The workers continued the work without notifying the king of the changes, however seem to have left out an important part to a two levelled building. This building was also the place of one of the last battles of World War two held in Munich. The nazis were keeping precious documents in this building and so were trying to destroy them as the americans pushed them back in to the building. It is still possible to see some of the bullet marks in the pillars of the building. In a remarkable decision by the city walking by this building from left to right, the pillars are completely done over, however, from right to left the pillars are completely covered in bullet holes. This is said to be because the city wanted to leave a reminder of the past but also wanted to show a new side to their story.
Some people may recognize this place, as some of hitlers famous speeches were set here. The building itself is a recreation of something in Italy. There are four green lions to rub on your way in to this square, they each represent good luck with a part of your life, weather, love, length of life, and money. However it is important to only pick three, rubbing all four would be bad luck in all categories!
New Years Eve
Munich is a very strange place to be on New years eve. Being one of the few days during the year that people can purchase fireworks, people get very excited and walk around with bags filled with fireworks all day. Come nightfall, everyone is off! There are no set shows, everyone just sets off their fireworks anytime and anywhere they want. Imagining a much different scenario, we made our way back to Marienplatz for this evening and were very surprised to find that even in a small square surrounded by all of these well known buildings people are just alowed to do whatever they want. There are fireworks coming out of bottles left on the ground, shooting this side and that, even going in to the U-Bahn, everywhere!