Munich is the capital city of Bavaria. Within the city limits, Munich has a population of more than 1.3 million, making it the third most populous city in Germany. The urban area, which sprawls on the foothills of the Alps, has a population of about 2.7 million.
Munich is noted for its architecture and culture, and the annual Oktoberfest beer celebration is world famous. Munich's cultural scene is second to none in Germany, with the museums even considered by some to outrank Berlin in quality. Many travelers to Munich are absolutely stunned by the quality of the architecture. Although it was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II, many of its historic buildings have been rebuilt and the city center appears mostly as it did in the late 1800s including the famous Rathaus.
Munich was founded (1158) by Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and of Bavaria near a settlement (Munichen) that was established in Carolingian times. In 1255 it was chosen as the residence of the Wittelsbach family, the dukes of Bavaria and later became (1506) the capital of the dukedom.
During the Thirty Years War, Munich was occupied (1632) by Gustavus II of Sweden. In 1806 the city was made capital of the kingdom of Bavaria. Under the kings Louis I (1825–48), Maximilian II (1848–64), and Louis II (1864–86), Munich became a cultural and artistic center, and it played a leading role in the development of 19th- and 20th-century German painting.
After World War I the city was the scene of considerable political unrest. National Socialism (Nazism) was founded there, and on Nov. 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler failed in his attempted Munich “beer-hall putsch”—a coup aimed at the Bavarian government. Despite this fiasco, Hitler made Munich the headquarters of the Nazi party, which in 1933 took control of the German national government.
Michael Cardinal Faulhaber, the archbishop of Munich, was one of the few outspoken critics of the National Socialist regime. In Sept., 1938, the Munich Pact was signed in the city; in 1939 Hitler suppressed a Bavarian separatist plot there. Munich was badly damaged during World War II, but after 1945 it was extensively rebuilt and many modern buildings were constructed.
Generally the sky line of Munich is not very high for the reason that the height limit on buildings (logically) was limited to the height of the fire engines of the day. As you look across the Munich skyline, church spires dominate.
In 1973 it hosted the Olympic Games for which were built the Olympic stadium, and also the underground system. Munich remains the capital of Bavaria, and is where German chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber has his seat of power.
City Center - Marienplatz / Isartor / Karlsplatz / Odeonsplatz
The city center is made up largely of the Karlsplatz (Stachus) and the pedestrian shopping zone that leads down to Marienplatz square, which are the main tourist hangouts. However, for ease of use, the areas directly around these squares should be included in the city center. The city center is usually defined as the area within the old walled city, now most distinctly recognizable by the traffic loop known as the Altstadtring, although there are many portions of the historical walls still visible.
Schwabing / Maxvorstadt
Schwabing (as well as the neighboring Maxvorstadt) is the upscale academic district. Its trendy but charming neighborhood immediately beyond the Ludwig-Maximilian Universität (try blue/orange metro stops Universität or Münchener Freiheit) is filled with small coffee houses, expensive but impressive shoe stores, bookstores and specialty restaurants from around the world. Schwabing has always been an "in" place to live, and looking at the shady tree-lined streets, it's not difficult to imagine why. Leopoldstraße (get out at Universität or Münchner Freiheit) also offers extensive sidewalk cafes including some famous internationally known American coffee emporiums.
Olympic area / Olympia Einkaufzentrum
Built on Munich's former airport Oberwiesenfeld, this is the area of the 1972 Olympic Games. If you climb on the hills heaped up from the debris of the Second World War, you'll have a great overview of the site, especially worthwhile if there is a concert in the Olympic Stadium. The Olympic site itself is extremely beautiful and the ride to the top of the Olympic Tower is unmissable as it gives magnificent views of the city.
The district around the Ostbahnhof (Eastern Station) is well-known for its clubbing area, Kultfabrik (formerly known as Kunstpark Ost, most locals will be familiar with the old name), where you can party in more than 30 clubs and discos. Also check out the many bars and restaurants in the Optimolwerke right next door. There are also several quaint sidestreets in this quarter featuring small houses virtually unchanged in several hundreds of years.
Neuhausen & Nymphenburg
One of the more relaxing districts, where the atmosphere causes residents and visitors alike to forget they are in a city of over a million. Take any tram with the end stop Romanplatz, for example the 12, and get out there, or get out at Rotkreuzplatz and relax in a beer garden or enjoy some ice cream or a bite to eat at one of the many nearby restaurants. Both of these neighborhoods are virtually undiscovered by tourists even though Neuhausen is home to a popular night club and the world's largest beer garden. What's more astounding is that, while millions of tourists flock to Munich in the summer months and September and October for Oktoberfest, few find their way to the tranquil Schloss Nymphenburg gardens.
This district around the banks of the river Isar is a recreational area for many residents of Munich. The zoo Hellabrunn is located here and in warm summer nights many bonfires are lit on the Flaucher, sand banks of the Isar.
More from Munich (Muenchen)