What to see
King of Bavaria Ludwig I commissioned the architect Leo von Klenze to design and build Alte Pinakothek, whose doors opened to the public in 1836. The building was severely damaged during World War II, but was restored by German architect Hans Döllgast in 1957. However, rather than totally rebuilding the façade, Döllgast used bricks to repair it, leaving the “scars” of the war still visible. This earned the building a place in post-war architectural history. As you explore the museum, you’ll see over 800 masterpieces by European artists from the Middle Ages to the Rococo era. Tiziano represents Venetian art in the museum’s collection while Frans Hals’ Flemish Baroque style is on display too. The pieces of Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens are among the museum’s most popular works, as well as pieces by German painters Albrecht Altdorfer and Albrecht Dürer. You can also see Dürer’s ground breaking self-portrait and his Four Apostles painted in 1500 in Alte Pinakothek.
Pinakothek der Moderne
Pinakothek der Moderne is a museum of art, architecture and design, and is right next to the Alte and Neu Pinakothek galleries. The museum displays a collection of 20th and 21st-century pieces of art and design, and also provides digital access to these pieces. You’ll find some of the finest examples of design and art works here, alongside architectural drawings, photographs, models, printed graphics and other illustrations in the Pinakothek der Moderne’s collection. The museum makes a huge contribution to the city’s art scene, as it holds events and educational programs throughout the year. It’s one of the most important artistic venues in Munich.
Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg) is a Baroque architectural masterpiece which hosted the King of Bavaria during the summer months. The design of both the building and its garden are incredibly impressive, and they’re the work of legendary Baroque architect, the Itallian Agostino Barelli. Construction began in in 1664 upon the birth of the crown prince Max Emanuel. The rooms of the palace exhibit works of art from the Baroque era to the era of Classicism, and you can see the “Little Beauty Gallery” commissioned by King Ludwig I, which was also the birthplace of King Ludwig II. The gallery contains the portraits of 36 aristocratic women of the time, and is one of the palaces most famous rooms. The palace was used in the filming of French director Alain Resnais’ 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad, and in Italian director Luchino Visconti’s 1972 film Ludwig, which documented the life of King Ludwig II. Be sure to see the Stone Hall, Little Beauty Gallery and the Carriage Museum while Nymphenburg Palace, and certainly don’t miss the chance to explore its beautiful garden.
The world-famous Neue Pinakothek houses a collection made up of some of the finest works of sculpture and painting in Europe dating from the end of the 18th century right up to the beginning of the 20th. It has a particularly large collection of 19th-century German pieces, which is considered one of the best of that particular era. At the heart of the museum is the private collection of King Ludwig I. The best examples of the Early Romantic works by the 19th-century German artist Caspar David Friedrich are on display in the museum, as are pieces by Wilhelm von Kaulbach and Karl von Piloty. Apart from exhibiting works by other important German artists like Hans von Marées, pieces by the British artist Thomas Gainsborough, Spanish artist Francisco Goya and French artist Jacques Louis David are also on display. You should also be sure to make the time to see the fantastic collection of French Impressionism paintings at the Neue Pinakothek, which includes pieces by Monet, Manet, Degas, Pissaro and Renoir. As if that weren’t enough, modern artists like Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh also have work exhibited at this wonderful museum.
Munich Residenz is an incredible building of 130 rooms and 10 courtyards. Between 1508 and 1918 the palace was home to Bavarian royalty. Originally a castle built in 1385, additions made over the centuries have turned it into the magnificent palace we see today. On your visit you’ll see fantastic architecture and opulent decorations alongside the royal collections on display. The most important parts of the palace are the Königsbau, Alte Residenz and Festsaalbau sections. Within Festsaalbau you’ll find Hercules Hall (Herkulessaal), a concert hall where both the Cuvillies Theater and the Bavaria Radio Symphony Orchestra have performed. As you walk through the halls of Munich Residenz, you can’t help but be in awe of the incredible decorations and priceless works of art on the walls in this quite breath-taking building.
On the request of Carl Theodor, a park was created on the banks of the Isar River in 1789, though it’s changed over the centuries as buildings and green spaces have been added to it. Englischer Garten literally means “English Garden”, and it takes its name from the fact its design was inspired by traditional English gardens. You’ll see many runners and cyclists following the 78 km of track in the park, as well as amateur footballers at play. The park is always lively and full of people, and there’s even a Japanese tea house to be enjoyed there, though the northern part of the park is ideal if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet. The river and expansive green spaces of the park will help you escape the hectic bustle of the city and give you a chance for a little respite.
Located in the north of Munich, the tent-like roof of the Olympiapark will catch your attention right away, and along with the Olympic Tower, it’s one of the symbols of the city. After the Olympic Games of 1972, this 300-hectare park was transformed into an entertainment venue for the whole city. You’ll see plenty of joggers and cyclists using the park, and even swimmers in the Olympic Pool. However, it’s the 291-meter-tall Olympic Tower that’s the star attraction in the park. From the observation deck at 190 meters, you can capture some amazing photographs or just enjoy the panoramic views of Munich. The rotating restaurant at 182 meters takes 53 minutes to make one revolution and promises an unforgettable dining experience.
Lenbachhaus in Munich
This building, which was home to the German painter Franz von Lenbach between 1887 and 1891, was designed by the architect Gabriel von Seidl, and in 1929 it was converted into the Lenbachhaus in Munich (Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus). The museum was expanded during the following years, and is located in the Kunstareal district of the city, known as the “art area” in English. First of all, you’ll see works by Franz von Lenbach, as well as landscapes, portraits and Art Nouveau paintings from the 19th century, and pieces by artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. The museum also features a collection of contemporary pieces created after 1945.
The Museum Brandhorst was established in 2009 out of the collection belonging to Udo and Anett Brandhorst, and is set in a truly impressive building. With a façade created from 36,000 ceramic louvres in 23 different colored glazes, the building really does look like it should indeed be a museum of modern art. Here you’ll be able to appreciate the world’s largest collection of Andy Warhol pieces, where you can see how his artistic vision evolved over the years. There’s also a collection of over 60 works by American artist Cy Twombly, showing off his extraordinary talent. Alongside these two, Museum Brandhorst also houses pieces by the likes of Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The Mariensäule, or Marian Column, was erected in 1638 to celebrate victory against the Swedes in a war that lasted 30 years, and it’s from this that the square takes its name. The architecture of the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) dominates the square, which was built between 1867 and 1908 when the Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) standing next to it was deemed insufficient. The 85-meter-tall bell tower of the building really catches the eye, and you can get to the top of it using the elevator inside. Once in the tower you’ll see the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, an apparatus of figures which puts on a performance at 11:00 and 17:00 every day. Accompanied by 43 bells, the 32 figures act out two stories from the 16th century. The upper part depicts the jousting tournament organized to celebrate the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V and Lothringen von Renata in 1567, while the lower part displays a dance known as the Schäfflertanz. This dance came about in an effort to abate the misery of the plague epidemic in 1517. The show lasts about 15 minutes and ends with three crows from a golden rooster. In front of the New Town Hall stands the Fischbrunnen Fountain, which was damaged in the Second World War but is now a popular meeting point for locals.
What to eat
Spätzle is a kind of dumpling that features heavily in the cuisine of Germany, Switzerland, Austrian and Hungary. A dough made using eggs, flour and water is used to make spätzle, and is cooked in boiling water, as you’d expect. You’ll find Käsespätzle in restaurants all over Munich, and it resembles something like macaroni cheese. However, caramelized onions are added to the ramekin, and red meat, sausage and vegetables can also be included in the dish. You’ll even find varieties with pesto sauce, cream or lentils added to it. It’s one of the favorite dishes in Munich, so be sure to try it before leaving the city.