We’re visiting beautiful Munich, Germany for today’s world culture post! Post author Lori is a mother to one brilliant five-year-old girl and a piano teacher. She loves exploring the world, reading and writing novels, cooking, and playing music of all kinds. She is from the United States, but lived in Munich, Germany, for two years, and has since moved on to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Do you love giant pretzels? Sausage?
What about fresh radishes? With salt on them?
If you like any of the above, Munich, Germany, is the city for you. (You can skip the radishes, if you like. I certainly did.)
Munich lies on a very flat plain, sixty miles north of the Alps. It’s Germany’s most expensive and third largest city, and the capital of Bavaria, Germany’s largest state. It’s also home to one of the world’s most famous festivals, Oktoberfest, which celebrates one of the biggest local products (beer) with food, roller coasters, parades, fancy clothes, and music.
Marienplatz is the center of town, named after the small gold statue of Mary on the column in the middle of the square. The tall clock tower holds the famous glockenspiel, where life-size dolls twirl and joust several times a day to the tinkling bells. Most of Munich is not as old as it looks because it was destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt, but this building miraculously survived and later served as American military headquarters.
Maypoles are a Bavarian tradition. For centuries, all the strapping young men of each town have gathered on May first to laboriously raise a new maypole. Nowadays, most towns use construction equipment, but a few neighborhoods still raise it by hand. This one stands in Munich’s open-air food market called the Viktualienmarkt. Blue and white are the colors of the Bavarian flag, and the signs on each side represent the local craftsmen, such as carpenters or bakers.
Imagine attending a party in this fancy ballroom! Nymphenburg Palace used to be where Bavarian royalty went to get away from the city. Nowadays, the city has grown out to surround it in every direction. Bavaria was a kingdom before Germany was unified. Afterward, the Kings of Bavaria became Dukes of Bavaria. The current duke still lives in one wing of Nymphenburg.
The Allianz Arena is Europe’s most modern football stadium (that’s soccer, if you’re in the United States). When any of Munich’s teams are playing here, the white membrane covering this amazing building actually lights up in the colors of the team: red for F.C. Bayern or blue for TSV. On a clear night it can be seen all the way from Austria.
In 1976 Munich hosted the Olympics here. Nowadays it’s a beautiful park and leisure center with a restaurant at the top of the tower. The skyscraper in the background is the headquarters of BMW, a local company that sends its cars all over the world.
A short drive from Munich in the foothills of the Alps stands the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Every year well over a million people come to visit it. One of them was Walt Disney. He later used it as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.
Munich holds a lot more to discover. The two years we lived there was not enough to see it all!
Thank you, Lori, for this post! I know Munich for their famous science and technology themed Deutsches Museum; there is clearly much more to this town that I would love to discover some day!