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Munich city overview :

Welcome to the Bavarian Wonderland - countless beercellars, Gothic and stucco architecture. The famous traditional costume and of course the Bavarian Gemutlichkeit (hospitality) adds to the city's charm. Chic and cosmopolitan, carefree and kitschy Bavaria's capital and one of Germany's biggest cities has more than its share of great museums, architectural treasures, historic sites, and world-class shops, restaurants, and hotels. Tourists flock to Munich year-round, but festival dates - especially Fasching, or Carnival, in the winter, and Oktoberfest in the fall - draw the most.

Located to the north of the Bavarian Alps, on the River Isar, Munich (Munchen) is a city that combines proud provincialism with international glamour. The city acquired the name Munchen (‘home of the monks’) from its first monastery, founded in the eighth century. Monasteries have since played an important role in the history of the city, not least by starting the beer brewing traditions for which the city has received worldwide renown. Munich Top Picks are street performers and the moving figures of the glockenspiel at Marienplatz; the opulent Residenz and Nymphenburg Palace; the Frauenkirche and other churches in the Old Town.

Despite its cosmopolitanism, Munich is small enough to be digestible in one visit, and has the added bonus of a great setting, the snow-dusted mountains and Alpine lakes just an hour's drive away. The best time of year to come is from June to early October, when all the beer gardens, street cafes and bars are in full swing.

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Munich city map
Munich. German Museum of Science and Technology

Deutsches Museum
(German Museum of Science and Technology)

You could get lost here for weeks and still only see a fraction of the exhibits. Museum’s huge collection of priceless artifacts and historic originals includes the first electric dynamo (Siemens, 1866), the first automobile (Benz, 1886), the first diesel engine (1897), and the laboratory bench at which the atom was first split (Hahn, Strassmann, 1938). There are hundreds of buttons to push, levers to crank, and gears to turn, as well as a knowledgeable, English-speaking staff to answer questions and demonstrate how steam engines, pumps, or historical musical instruments work.

Among the most popular displays are those on mining, with a series of model coal, salt, and iron mines, as well as the electric power hall, with high-voltage displays that actually produce lightning. There are also exhibits on transportation, printing, photography, textiles, and many activities, including glass-blowing and paper-making demonstrations. The air-and-space hall is the largest in the museum. A hall for high-tech exhibits, computer science, automation, microelectronics, and telecommunications is also very intriguing. The museum's planetarium displays how this science developed from its earliest beginnings to its current status and is the largest permanent astronomy exhibition in Europe. An IMAX theater shows nature and adventure films.

Munich. Englischer Garten (English Garden)

Englischer Garten
(English Garden)

The largest urban park in Germany is a quiet oasis in the heart of busy Munich. Munich?s famous 900-acre park has shaded paths, brooks, ponds and swans and is best known for its four beer gardens and nude sunbathers. Attractions also include the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower), the Japanisches Teehaus (Japanese Teahouse) and the Monopteros, a Greek-style temple. The Kleinhesselhoher See – a lake in the centre of the park – and the Amphitheater offer lots of activities in the summer months. The Haus der Kunst, home of the State Gallery of Modern Art, which hosts excellent temporary art exhibitions, and the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, the Bavarian National Museum are located on Prinzregentenstrasse, on the southern edge of the park.

Munich. Residenz (Royal Palace)

(Royal Palace)

The Munich Residence embodies over 600 years of Bavarian history. Successive members of the Wittelsbach dynasty expanded the original 14th-century castle to create a complex of palaces around seven courtyards. The elaborate rooms contain antiques, sculptures, paintings and tapestries amassed by the Wittelsbachs between the 16th and 19th centuries – some rooms can only be visited during the morning or afternoon. This complex houses the Residenz Museum, a concert hall, the Cuvillies Theater, and the Residenz Treasury. When one of the Bavarian royals said that he was going to the castle, he could have meant any number of places, especially if he was Ludwig II. But if he said that he was going home, he could only be referring to the Residenz.

Munich. Asamkirche (Asam Church)

(Asam Church)

Munich's most unusual church has a suitably extraordinary entrance, framed by raw rock foundations. Inside you'll discover a prime example of true southern German, late-baroque architecture. Frescoes and rosy marble cover the walls, from which statuary and gilding explode - there's even a gilt skeleton at the sanctuary's portal.

Munich. Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace)

Schloss Nymphenburg
(Nymphenburg Palace)

Munich's most unusual church has a suitably extraordinary entrance, framed by raw rock foundations. Inside you'll discover a prime example of true southern German, late-baroque architecture. Frescoes and rosy marble cover the walls, from which statuary and gilding explode - there's even a gilt skeleton at the sanctuary's portal.

Munich. Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)

(Church of Our Lady)

Munich's Dom (cathedral) is a distinctive late-Gothic brick structure with two enormous towers, that are Munich's chief landmark. Each is more than 300 ft high, and both are capped by very un-Gothic onion-shape domes. The towers have become the symbol of Munich's skyline - some say because they look like overflowing beer mugs. A splendid view of the city is yours from an observation platform high up in one of the towers. Twenty-two simple octagonal pillars support the Gothic vaulting over the nave and chancel inside the church. Local legend has it that the church's builder Jorg von Halspach struck a deal with a Devil to provide the money to complete the church, so long as the church is built without any visible windows. Von Halspach cleverly designed the church so that there is a point in the foyer from which not a single window could be seen. The furious Satan stamped his foot, leaving an imprint in the pavement, and stormed off. You can still see the strange footlike mark called ‘the devil's step’ in the entrance hall.

Munich. Viktualienmarkt (Food Market)

(Food Market)

The city's open-air food market has a wide range of produce, German and international foodstuffs, and tables and counters for eating and drinking, which make the area a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. It's also the realm of the garrulous, sturdy market women who run the stalls with dictatorial authority. Whether here, or at a bakery, do not try to select your pickings by hand; ask for help.

Munich. Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery)

Alte Pinakothek
(Old Picture Gallery)

The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest and most important galleries in the world. More than 800 masterpieces by European artists bring to life the development of art from the Middle Ages to the end of the Rococo period. Venetian art is represented by its master painter Titian, as is Dutch baroque art by Frans Hals. Rubens occupies (with one of the largest collections of his works in the world) the center of the museum.

Munich. Olympia Park

Olympia Park

The Olympia Park complex was laid out in 1972, for the 20th Olympic Games. It covers an area of 667 acres and contains sport facilities, lakes, bicycle paths, concert venues, restaurants. At its heart is the giant tent-like structure of the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium), which hosts national and international sporting events and concerts. A number of tours are available upon reservation. The Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower) soars 290m above the park, offering magnificent views from its revolving restaurant and observation terrace. Don’t miss the fascinating BMW Museum across the street, right next to the companies headquaters - which was constructed in the shape of a four-cylinder engine.

Munich. Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

(Railway Station)

Munich has one main station, the Hauptbahnhof, where all the trains coming into and out of the city stop. The Hauptbahnhof is right in the city-centre and also at the heart of a very well thought out undergound system. The railway system is a real pleasure and there are rapid train connections every two hours or so to all major German cities, and frequent services to European cities like Vienna, Prague, Zurich, Rome and Paris.

Munich. Flughafen Muenchen (Munich Airport)

Flughafen Muenchen
(Munich Airport)

Munich's multi-level Franz-Josef-Strauss airport is only slightly less busy than Frankfurt's mega Flughafen, but it's way less intimidating. Flights bound for Europe, New York and Sydney jet in and out, either direct or via Frankfurt, and a host of German cities are served by at least six flights daily. Departure tax costs around US$3-4 and is included in the ticket price, as are airport security fees. Franz-Josef-Strauss Flughafen is connected by trains S1 and S8 to the Hauptbahnhof; the trip takes 40 minutes and operates every 20 minutes from 4am to 1am. An airport bus runs every 20 minutes to and from Arnulfstrasse, on the north side of the Hauptbahnhof, between 6:50am and 7:50pm, taking around 45 minutes. A taxi to the city centre will cost around US$55.

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