Inside Germany: Ich Liebe Munchen
We left Murren, Switzerland early Friday morning. As the cable car went down to Lauterbrunnen Valley to meet the bus that would take us to Munich, I took a long last look at the snow-capped mountains slowly emerging from the fog.
It was a long 280-mile drive to Munich, Germany, but the scenery made up for it. It was postcard perfect wherever I looked. It was green with lots of open spaces.
It took seven hours to reach Munich as bus drivers in the European Union are required to take 45 minutes break after driving for 4.5 hours. This gave us an opportunity to stop for lunch in Landau, a beautiful island town near the Switzerland and Austrian borders.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, which used to be an independent kingdom, before becoming part of Germany. It’s no suprising that many locals consider themselves Bavarians first and Germans second.
Our hotel was located in the old town section of Munich which made roaming around the city very convenient.
We went on a guided city tour starting in Marienplatz (St. Mary, Our Lady’s Square), which is the city’s main square. The gothic looking New Town Hall building (Neues Rathaus) can be found there.
During World War II, Munich was heavily damaged by allied bombings. When it was time to rebuild, the city planners decided to recreate the past. As a result, many buildings had been reconstructed using old photographs and paintings.
In Munich, there are no skyscrapers. You won’t find any building or structure higher than the church spire as it’s against the law. Well, it’s not for the benefit of tourists who are lost and can use the church spire to get their bearings back. It’s in adherance to the city’s religious roots that no building or structure can be higher than the church since nothing can be higher than God.
I chanced upon this aluminum statue in front of Hotel Bayerischer Hof. It was supposed to be that of Maximilian Von Montgelas (1759-1838), a Bavarian statesman and politician in the early 19th century. It seems to have been inspired by the famous proverb, “No man is a hero to his valet.” It’s best viewed from the distance.
One’s stay in Munich wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of its beer halls where tourists and locals can hangout in complete harmony. Just be aware that tables with a sign that says “Stammish” are reserved for regulars who often keep their mugs locked up in little cages.
We also visited the Alte Pinakothek, an art museum located in Kunstareal, that exhibits works from the 14th to 17th century masters.
Most of the paintings were inspired by religious themes, such as those shown above. In the top row, you’d find Gabriel Angler’s Kalvarienberg (c. 1440). In the second row (left to right), you’d find Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Adam and Eve (c. 1510); Francesco Francia, Madonna in the Rose Garden (c. 1500-1505); and Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Carnation (c. 1478-1480). In the bottom row, you’d find Gabriel Angler’s Kalvarienberg (c. 1440). Lastly, in the bottom row, you’d find Martin Schaffner’s High Altar in Ulm Cathedral (c.1580).
Considered as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Munich combines big city amenities with a small town charm. It’s eco-friendly with plenty of green spaces. It has a low-crime rate. It has a great tradition of celebrating life and community. Last but not the least, it has the best beer. Hey, the Bavarian variety really tastes better. I’d love to go back someday and get that feeling of gemutlichkeit all over again.