In a tiny corner past the market, we found a traditional Bavarian restaurant and biergarten that dates back to 1633. We sat down underneath one of the larger green umbrellas just as the rain started. It was easy to overlook the weather’s temperamental mood swings when we were having so much fun on the trip, and even then, the rain only served to enhance the experience. It was the added spice to our meal.
New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus)
The skies over Munich’s central square would transition from sunny to cloudy to rainy for the rest of that afternoon, which had me wavering between mild annoyance and gloom because I no longer had my pretty little pink umbrella. (I wouldn’t find a replacement for it until we reached Frankfurt.) The city’s marketplace and public forum for the past thousand years, Marienplatz or “Mary’s Square” felt a little more fenced-in than Vienna’s Stephensplatz but just as busy.
The New Town Hall was built in the late 1800s and adorned with 40 statues of Bavarian kings and nobles. The clock tower’s glockenspiel tells the true story of a noble wedding that took place on Marienplatz in 1568. At the very top of New Town Hall sits the Münchner Kindl, the symbol of Munich. It’s the statue of a child dressed as a monk, holding a book in its left hand. Munich received its name from the monks or Mönchen who were the first to settle in the city. (Apparently, in recent years, the symbol has shifted from a young boy to a young girl to even a teenage girl, holding either a smartphone or a beer—especially during Oktoberfest.) The golden statue atop the column in the center of Marienplatz honors the square’s namesake, the Virgin Mary. At the column’s four corners, cherubs fight against the four great biblical enemies of civilization: the dragon of war, the lion of hunger, the monster of plague and disease, and the serpent of heresy (or Protestants, who weren’t allowed to worship openly in Catholic-Bavaria until ~1800).
New Town Hall’s glockenspiel
Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)
Munich’s Old Town Hall had been completely destroyed when the Allies bombed the square in WWII, and it had to be rebuilt once the war was over. The New Town Hall survived and served as the US military headquarters in 1945.
Marienhof is a square of green tucked behind the New Town Hall, where all the bikes in the entire city are parked. Probably. At least that’s what it looked like. It was a parking nightmare that made me think of SF.
That man waving in the middle of Max-Joseph-Platz is Maximilian I or Max Joseph. He was the duke of Munich in 1806 until he was deposed by Napoleon, who then agreed to reinstate him under one condition: Max was to give up his eldest daughter in marriage to Napoleon’s stepson. When Max agreed, he was crowned king of Bavaria. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The building that stands behind Max with its artfully papered colonnade is the National Theater (Nationaltheater München), where Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde premiered in 1865 thanks to beloved patron Ludwig II. It’s doubtful that any of Wagner’s operas would have made the stage at what was then the prestigious Munich Royal Court Theatre without his majesty’s generous financial backing. Seriously. Wagner was constantly in debt, and the opera was even delayed by bailiffs acting for his creditors. Ludwig, who would go so far as to dedicate an entire castle to the composer, was very much the savior of Wagner’s career.
Residenz Museum (Residenzmuzeum)
This structure that houses 90 rooms was the former Residenz of Bavaria’s royal Wittelsbach family (c. 1385). The longest continuously ruling family in European history survives to this day, but most of them are your average working-class citizens now.