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Munich - Around Town : Downtown & Old Town (part 1)

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Munich's historic Old Town is also the downtown area. This is where you will find many historic buildings as well as Marienplatz, (the historic central square), and the Residenz. In the past, further expansion was hindered by the Englischer Garten to the northeast and the Isar River to the east. Within the boundaries of the old town gates – Karlstor, Isartor, Odeonsplatz, and Sendlinger Tor – lie the principal shopping districts. Here you will find the pedestrian zone, Theatinerstraße, and Maximilianstraße. However, Marienplatz remains the true heart of Munich for visitors and locals alike.

Odeon

The former Odeon at Odeonsplatz 3 was a glamorous concert hall financed by Ludwig I with funds taken from the defence fund, despite resistance from his cabinet. Built by Klenze in 1828, the building was destroyed in World War II. After the war, only the walls surrounding the inner courtyard were rebuilt to full height. The complex now houses the Ministry of the Interior.



Attractions
  1. Marienplatz, Neues & Altes Rathaus

    The Mariensäule (Column of the Virgin), from 1590, and the 19th-century fish fountain on Marienplatz are popular meeting spots. Although the square is dominated by the ornate Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall (1867–1908), the eastern side is bounded by the Gothic simplicity of the Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall, built during the 15th century. The Glockenspiel, a chiming clock, is not to be missed .

    Altes Rathaus

    Chiming clock, Neues Rathaus

    Gilded statue of the Virgin, Mariensäule
  2. Frauenkirche

    Weinstraße, a lane off Marienplatz, leads to the Frauenkirche (1468–88), a basilica designed by Jörg von Halsbach. A lack of funds forced him to abandon his idea of Gothic towers. The “Swiss bonnets” that top the towers were added later and are perhaps the forerunners of all the onion domes in Bavaria. Highlights are the emperor’s tomb, Erasmus Grasser’s carving, and the statue of St Christopher .

  3. Alter Hof

    Built within the city walls between 1253 and 1255, the former residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty lies northeast of Marienplatz. Preserved in its original form, the west wing features a gatehouse embellished with the family’s coat of arms. A bay window, known as the Affenturm, or Monkey Tower, is another original element. According to legend, a court monkey abducted young Ludwig IV, the future emperor of Germany, and climbed to the top of the tower with the boy before returning him safely to ground level.

    • Burgstr. 4

    • 8am–4:30pm Mon–Thu (Fri to 2pm)

  4. Alte Münze

    Northeast of the Alter Hof lies the Münzhof (1567), the former royal stables of the Bavarian rulers. This stunning Renaissance courtyard with arcades rising across three stories held the stables and coach houses, as well as the library and treasure chamber of Albrecht V. In the 19th century, the complex was converted into the state mint, hence the name Alte Münze, or Old Mint. Coins were minted here as recently as 1983.

    • Hofgraben 4

    • Courtyard open year-round

    Renaissance triple-tier arcades in the Münzhof
  5. Maximilianstraße

    Maximilian II built this monumental boulevard between 1852 and 1855. The stretch between Max-Joseph-Platz and Alstadtring  is one of the world’s most exclusive shopping streets. In the arcades, luxury boutiques such as Armani, Jill Sander, and Chanel offer their exquisite wares; the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten and the Kammerspiele are also found here, as is the new Maximilianhöfe complex. At its far end, the boulevard is flanked with ornate public buildings.

    Main post office, Maximilianstraße
  6. Hofbräuhaus & Platzl

    Munich’s most famous pub dates from 1896 and was originally the royal court brewery, founded in 1598 by Wilhelm V. There is space for 1,000 patrons on the ground floor, where Hofbräu is, of course, the main beverage served – over 10,000 litres (2,600 gallons) per day. A barrel-vaulted banquet hall occupies the second floor and the complex also features a beautiful small beer garden. Walk through the winding lanes nearby, such as Burgstraße, to enjoy one of Munich’s most historic districts.

    Hofbräuhaus
  7. Sankt-Jakobs-Platz & Stadtmuseum

    Since 2006 Sankt-Jakobs-Platz has been home to the new Jewish Centre. This comprises the Ohel Jakob Synagogue, the Jüdisches Museum, and a community centre. Six buildings on the square, including the Marstall (royal stables) and the former Zeughaus (arsenal), are occupied by the Stadtmuseum. It contains several permanent collections and exhibitions. The film museum enjoys international renown , especially for reconstructions of silent films. Ignaz-Günther-Haus – a late Gothic building that was the home and studio of the famous Rococo sculptor – stands on the west side of the square.

  8. Sendlinger Straße & Sendlinger Tor

    For a long time this was one of the oldest retail strips in the city, with shops owned by the same families for generations. In recent years, Sendlinger Straße has become more elegant – and more expensive. If you prefer a more eclectic experience, wander into the adjacent side streets and lanes, where you can browse in the many stores to your heart’s content. Be sure to visit the two Rococo jewels of the district – the Asamkirche  and the Asamhaus at Sendlinger Straße No. 34. Egid Quirin Asam acquired the building (unfortunately closed to the public) and adapted it to his own needs. One of the windows affords a direct view of the high altar in the Asamkirche. A surviving element of the medieval town fortifications, the vine-covered Sendlinger Tor marks the end of the street.

    • Sendlinger Str. 34 & 62

    Egid Quirin Asam

  9. Residenz & Hofgarten

    Munich’s largest historic complex, the Residenz, lies adjacent to the Hofgarten, with its lovely plantings and arcades. To the north, the garden is bounded by the Bavarian Chancellery (1989–93), which incorporates the ruins of an army museum. Remnants of a 16th-century wall and garden are visible behind glass on one side.

    Chancellery overlooking the Hofgarten
  10. Odeonsplatz, Theatinerkirche & Feldherrnhalle

    Princely palaces once occupied the area between Residenz and Theatinerkirche. From 1800, old fortifications here were dismantled to make way for the Ludwigstraße, which ends or begins – depending upon your viewpoint – with Odeonsplatz and the Feldherrnhalle. Statues of the Bavarian field marshals Tilly and Wrede are displayed in the niches of the loggia.

    Feldherrnhalle with a view of the Residenz

An Old Town Stroll

Morning

From Marienplatz walk through the pedestrian zone to Mazaristr., which will lead you to the Frauenkirche. Continue north along Maffeistr. to the Fünf Höfe complex and stroll along Theatinerstr. to Odeonsplatz with Theatinerkirche and Feldherrnhalle. Enjoy an excellent cup of coffee with a view of the Hofgarten at Café Tambosi. You will need half a day to tour the Residenz, but you can explore the palace’s many inner courtyards on your own. Cross the Residenzstr. to Max-Joseph-Platz and the opera and exclusive shops along Maximilianstr. Return to Marienplatz via Dienerstr., Alter Hof, and Platzl, just in time for the clock’s chiming (at 11am or noon). Walk along Tal to the Weißes Bräuhaus at No.10 for a traditional Bavarian lunch.

Afternoon

After lunch, climb to the top of St Peter’s  and take in the glorious view of the Old Town. Then walk through the Rindermarkt with its medieval Löwenturm and right into Sendlinger Str. Although Asamhaus (No. 34) is closed to the public, the interior of the late Baroque Asamkirche (No. 62) will take your breath away. Keep left to reach St-Jakobs-Platz, the Stadtmuseum, and the impressive Ohel Jakob Synagogue. Drop into the Stadtcafé for an afternoon break. From Viktualienmarkt, just around the corner, go east to Isartor and the Valentin-Musäum (see Gärtnerplatz) or south to the Gärtnerplatz district with its many pubs and bars.

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