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Munich  (München)
Coat of arms of Munich Location of Munich in Germany
Federal state Bavaria
Administrative region Upper Bavaria
District none
Population 1,280,982 (2005)
Area 310.46 km²
Population density 4,126/km²
Elevation 519 m
Coordinates 48°08′ N 11°34′ E
Postal code 80000–81929
Area code 089
Licence plate code M
Mayor Christian Ude (SPD)
For the 2005 Steven Spielberg film, see Munich (film).

Munich (German: München (pronounced [ˈmʏnçən] listen) is the state capital of the German state of Bavaria. After Berlin and Hamburg, Munich is Germany's third largest city with a population of about 1.4 million (as of 2004). The Munich metropolitan area is home to around 3 million people. The city is located on the river Isar, at 48°08′ N 11°34′ E. The city's motto is "Die Weltstadt mit Herz" (The world city with a heart).



The city was founded next to a settlement of monks Munichen (Latin Monacum, Monachium) by the Welf Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria. The village grew around a bridge, that Henry initially built over the river 'Isar'. To force traders to use his bridge (and, of course charge them for doing so) he destroyed a nearby bridge owned by bishop Otto von Freising (Freising). Therefore the bishop and Henry quarreled about the city before the emperor at a Reichstag held in Augsburg in 1158. Half a century later it was granted city status and fortified.

In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto of Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria. His heirs, the Wittelsbach dynasty would rule Bavaria until 1918. In 1255, the dukedom of Bavaria was split in two, and Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria.

In 1327, most of the city was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt some years later by the Wittelsbach Louis IV, the ruling Holy Roman Emperor of the time. When the country was reunited in 1506 Munich became capital of the whole of Bavaria. During the 16th century Munich was a center of German counter reformation. In 1623 during the Thirty Years' War Munich became electoral residence when Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria was invested with the electoral dignity but in 1632 the city was occupied by Gustav II Adolph of Sweden.

In 1705 during the War of the Spanish Succession it was under the control of the Habsburg family for some years since Maximilian II Emanuel, elector of Bavaria made a pact with France. The coronation of his son elector Charles Albert as Emperor Karl VII in 1742 led to another Habsburg occupation. The city's first academic institution, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, was founded in 1759 by Maximilian III Joseph.

By that time, the city was growing very quickly and was one of the largest cities in continental Europe. In 1806, it became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament (the Landtag) and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city. Twenty years later Landshut University was moved to Munich.

Munich: Frauenkirche and Town Hall steeple
Munich: Frauenkirche and Town Hall steeple

Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period and were built under the reign of the king Ludwig I. These neoclassical buildings include the Ruhmeshalle with the "Bavaria" statue by Ludwig Michael von Schwanthaler and those on the magnificent Ludwigstraße and the Königsplatz, built by the architects Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner. Under king Maximilian II the Maximilianstraße was constructed in English Perpendicular Style.

In 1882 electric lighting was introduced to Munich, and the city hosted Germany's first exhibition of electricity,and in 1930 the first ever electrical television was showcased at the Deutsches Museum (founded in 1903) in Munich on Isar River. In 1901 the Hellabrunn Zoo opened in the city.

After World War I, the city was at the center of much unrest. In November 1918 on the eve of revolution, Ludwig III and his family fled Munich. After the murder of the first republican premier of Bavaria Kurt Eisner in February 1919 Communists took power establishing the Bavarian Soviet Republic (Münchner Räterepublik) which was put down already on May 3, 1919 by the militarist Freikorps, many of whom were later drawn to Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. In 1923 Hitler and his supporters, who then were concentrated in Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and seize power. But the revolt failed, resulting in Hitler's arrest and the temporary crippling of the Nazi Party, which was virtually unknown outside Munich. However, the city would once again become a Nazi stronghold when they took power in Germany in 1933. Because of its importance to the rise of Nazism, the Nazis called it Hauptstadt der Bewegung ("capital of the movement"). The NSDAP headquarters were in Munich and many Führerbauten ("Führer-buildings") were built around the Königsplatz, some of which have survived to this day.

Bavaria statue
Bavaria statue

In 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed in the city, ceding the mostly German speaking Sudetenland, previously a part of Czechoslovakia since the end of WWI, to Germany. It was signed by representatives of Germany, Italy, France and Britain. A year later, in 1939, Georg Elser failed with his attempt to assassinate Hitler while the latter was giving his annual speech to commemorate the Beer Hall Putsch in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich.

Munich was the city where the White Rose (German: Die Weiße Rose), a group of students that formed a resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943, was based. The core members were arrested following a distribution of leaflets in Munich University by Hans and Sophie Scholl.

The city was very heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II. After American occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous and, by comparison to other war-ravaged German cities, a rather conservative plan which preserved its pre-war street grid.

Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian terrorists (see Munich massacre), where terrorist gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team. A rescue attempt by the West German government was unsuccessful and resulted in the deaths of the Israeli hostages, five of the terrorists, and one German police officer.

Several games of the 1974 Soccer World Cup were also held in the city and in 2006 it will again be host to several games, including the opening match of the next FIFA Soccer World Cup.

Then Joseph Ratzinger at the formal farewell given by the people of Munich as he departed to become the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Then Joseph Ratzinger at the formal farewell given by the people of Munich as he departed to become the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The current Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on June 29, 1951. Benedict served as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.


The Theatinerkirche on Odeonsplatz in the historic city centre
The Theatinerkirche on Odeonsplatz in the historic city centre

Munich is a popular tourist destination and has been described as Germany's "secret capital".

The city has several important art museums, most of them can be found in the Kunstareal as the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. Before World War I, it was also the site of the Blaue Reiter group of artists, many of which can be seen at the Lenbachhaus. A profound collection of Greek and Roman art is provided by the Glyptothek and the Antike Staatsammlung. The State Museum of Ethnology is the second largest in Germany of artefacts and objects from outside Europe, the Bavarian National Museum is one of Europe's major art and cultural history museums.

Other famous tourist attractions include the English Garden (Englischer Garten - a garden park roughly in the center of the city that contains a nudist area, jogging tracks and bridle-paths), the Deutsches Museum (Germany's largest science museum), and the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, an ornate clock atop the town hall with almost life-sized moving figures that show scenes from a medieval jousting tournament as well as a performance of the famous "Schäfflertanz" (rougly translated "Barrel-makers' dance"). Perhaps Munich's most famous attraction is the Oktoberfest, a 2-week-long fair with many rides and several very large tents. The Oktoberfest was first held October 12, 1810 in honor of the marriage of crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities were closed with a horse race and in the following years the horse races were continued and later developed into what is now known as the Oktoberfest. Despite its name, Oktoberfest actually begins in September. It lasts two weeks and always finishes on the first Sunday in October unless the German national holiday on the 3rd of October ("Tag der deutschen Einheit" - Day of German Unity) is a monday or tuesday - then the Oktoberfest still opens for these days.

The diamond-check version of the Munich flag (left) and the Bavarian flag (right). The Frauenkirche is behind.
The diamond-check version of the Munich flag (left) and the Bavarian flag (right). The Frauenkirche is behind.

The Peterskirche is the oldest church of the inner city. The Frauenkirche ("Dom zu unserer Lieben Frau" - Cathedral of Our Lady) is the most famous building in the city center. This is Munich's central cathedral and is famous for the brass onion domes that top the twin towers. The domes were added in the 16th century not matching the gothic style of the building and thus giving it a somewhat peculiar style-mix. The original design asked for pointed towers like the dome of Cologne but those where never built for lack of money. At first glance the two towers appear to be the same height but in actual fact one is slightly taller than the other. Unlike most buildings in Munich's old town, the towers of the Frauenkirche (but not the church itself) survived the war intact, making them more than 500 years old. The Frauenkirche's towers (99 meters or 325 feet) are also the measurement for a new rule which limits the height of new buildings to the same height in the city. This rule was passed in November 2004 by the people of Munich in a referendum organized by Georg Kronawitter, a former SPD mayor, against the will of the political parties in the city's parliament ("Stadtrat") who feared that it would harm the city's attractiveness to investors.

The Michaelskirche is the largest renaissance church north of the Alps, the Theatinerkirche is a basilica in Italianate high baroque which had a major influence on Southern German baroque architecture. The Asamkirche was endowed and built by the Brothers Asam, pioneering artists of the rococo period.

With the Residenz Munich owns one of Europe's most significant interior decoration museums. The palace was built in 1385 and gradually expanded and contains also the treasury and the splendid rococo Cuvilliés Theatre.

Munich citizens also enjoy a world reknown neo-classical opera house, the National Theatre where several operas of Richard Wagner had premiere under the the patronage of Ludwig II of Bavaria.

The Olympic Park with its stadium was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics which were held in Munich. The Olympic buildings are famous for their design, which was inspired by dew-covered cobwebs. Visitors can be elevated on top of the Olympic Tower (Olympiaturm), which is also an important radio and TV broadcasting tower.

The 2006 World Cup, however, will not take place in the traditional Olympic Stadium, but in Munich's new soccer stadium, the Allianz Arena. Nearby the oldest church within the city borders Hl Kreuz with a romanesque fresco.

BMW Headquarters building (one of the few buildings that have been built from the top to the bottom) and the bowl shaped BMW museum
BMW Headquarters building (one of the few buildings that have been built from the top to the bottom) and the bowl shaped BMW museum


Around Munich

Lying on the plain of the Voralpenland, the Munich agglomeration sprawls unhindered by geography. Several smaller traditional Bavarian cities are today part of the Munich suburbia and are worth a visit when the main Munich sights are exhausted.


Munich is one of the centers of the "new" German economy as a center for biotechnology, software and other service industries. The city is home to the global headquarters of German insurance companies Allianz and Munich Re, the car manufacturer BMW, the technology firms Siemens and Infineon Technologies, as well as the German headquarters of McDonald’s and Microsoft. Lufthansa has opened a second hub at Munich's Franz Josef Strauss International Airport. In addition to this, Munich is home to many publishing houses, second only to New York City. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the largest German language daily newspapers, is published in Munich.


Residents of Munich enjoy a high quality of life. Mercer HR Consulting consistently rates the city among the top 10 cities with highest quality of life worldwide. The 2005 survey ranked Munich as 5th. Munich enjoys a thriving economy - principally information technology, biotechnology, and publishing. Environmental pollution is low, although currently the city is concerned about levels of fine dust in the air. The public transport is extremely efficient, although delays on the S-Bahn (commuter train) often cause frustration during extreme winter weather. The crime rate is very low. This high quality of life and safety has caused the city to be nicknamed "Toytown" amongst some of the English-speaking residents.

Nightlife is thriving. There are over 6,000 licensed establishments in the city. Cafe culture is strong in Munich, especially during the summer. There are many restaurants accommodating all preferences of cuisine. And possibly the most important free time activity during the summer: the beer gardens. There are around 20 major beer gardens with four of the most famous and popular being located in the Englischer Garten - one of the largest city parks in the world.


Munich's current mayor is Christian Ude of the SPD (Social-democratic Party of Germany). Munich has a nearly unbroken history of SPD governments since World War II. This is extraordinary because the rest of Bavaria is a conservative stronghold, with the CSU (Christian Social Union) winning absolute majorities among the Bavarian electorate in nearly all elections communal, state and federal level.

The figure on Munich's coat-of-arms is the Münchner Kindl, the child of Munich (a monk).


Public transport network
Public transport network

Franz Josef Strauss International Airport (IATA: MUC, ICAO: EDDM) is the main airport in Munich. The airport can be reached by suburban train lines S1 and S8.

Munich has a large public transport system including Subways, Suburban trains, trams and buses. For its population, Munich has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world. The local transportation is supervised by the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund).

Sports clubs

Colleges and universities

Twin cities

External links

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