The City that Loves You


Probably best known for the Oktoberfest, Munich is the capital and the largest city of the German state of Bavaria. The city is situated in south-east Germany, about 80 kilometres north of the Bavarian Alps, and borders Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. It is the third largest German city, after Berlin and Hamburg, and today is a hub of finance and publishing.

The earliest record of the city was documented in 1158. The city was founded by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and of Bavaria, near a settlement established in Carolingian times.

In 1175, Munich was officially granted city status and a city wall was built for its protection. When Henry the Lion went on trial in 1180, the city was handed over to the bishop of Freising by Henry’s successor Otto I Wittelsbach. The Wittelbachs ruled Bavaria until 1918.

The Dukedom of Bavaria was split in two in 1255, and Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria. When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich became its capital.

Munich has suffered two major fires. The first occurred in 1327 – it destroyed most of the city, but was rebuilt, extended and protected with new fortifications some years later. The second fire, in 1429, was not quite as devastating, but still required the rebuilding of large areas.

When erecting new buildings, the reach of the fire engines was taken into account, which is why the skyline doesn’t reach very high. Church spires do stick out, however.

In 1806, the city became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state’s parliament and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city.

World War II
Hitler’s Nazi Party had its origins in Munich. In 1923, he and his supporters attempted a coup of the Bavarian government, in what came to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was arrested and the Nazi Party was temporarily out of action. However, when Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, he made Munich the party’s stronghold and set up the first concentration camp, Dachau, just outside the city.

In the 1938 Munich Agreement, Britain, Italy and France ceded Sudetenland, a mostly German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia, to Hitler, in the hopes of curtailing his insatiable greed for power. It was signed in the city by representatives of the four countries.

The city took quite a beating during the war – it was bombed 71 times in six years by allied forces. It was taken by four divisions of the US Army in April 1945, when they liberated the prisoners at Dachau, and was rebuilt according to a careful and somewhat conservative plan, which preserved its pre-war street grid.

Despite its name, Oktoberfest takes place mostly in September. It was originally a wedding feast in honour of the marriage, in 1810, of the crown prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

Today, it’s a 16-day long festival celebrating beer. Oktoberfest is held annually at the 42-hectreTheresienwiese, which gave it its colloquial name of ‘die Wiesn’.

Millions of litres of specially brewed beer are sold to the over six million visitors every year. While about 70% of festival goers are Bavarian, many attendees travel from Asia, Australia, America and Canada to be part of the festivities.

Getting there
Lufthansa offers daily return flights from Johannesburg directly to Munich. Starting in October, the airline will reinstate its Cape Town-Munich flights for the summer season (see below).

Summer, between June and August, offers comfortable temperatures between 13ºC and 24ºC, with rain and thunderstorms. Winter, November to March, is cold – the mercury averages out between -4ºC and 2ºC, with a fair sprinkling of snow between December and February.

Munich’s proximity to the Alps, and its higher elevation than the rest of Germany, mean it gets more precipitation than other parts of Germany. It also experiences föhn winds, a warm, downhill breeze off the mountain that raises the temperature quickly, even during winter.

Weather does fluctuate in Munich, largely because of the city location at the centre of the continent.

Germany falls into the Schengen area, meaning that anyone who doesn’t possess a passport from a Schengen country must have a Schengen visa before travelling to Munich. A Schengen visa requires a personal visit to the German consulate (or consulate of whichever country you will be visiting) in your home town, and usually takes between two and three weeks to be issued. So, make sure you apply well in advance of your travelling dates.

Getting around
Munich and its closest suburbs have one of the most comprehensive and punctual systems in the world, run by the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (Münchner Verkehrs-und Tarifverbund), which co-ordinates all the different operators of buses, trams, the S-Bahn (suburban trains) and the U-Bahn (underground railway).

Most trains run from early in the morning until just after midnight. There are night buses and trams that run at intervals of about 30 minutes all night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Buying the right ticket for your trip can be quite a challenge, but being caught without one will cost you a fine of €30, so it’s worth your while to try and figure out which ticket you need before starting your trip. If you want to use public transport all day, the easiest way is to buy a day pass, which allows you to take as many train, tram or bus trips as you need for a single day.

You can buy your ticket from the blue machines marked with a yellow ‘K’, from a kiosk, or from a tram or bus driver.

The MVV area is divided into several zones, one in the centre (Innenraum) and three on the outskirts (Aussenraum). Obviously, the further from the city centre you travel, the more you pay. Mostly, though, you’ll get by with an Innenraum ticket.

Tourist attractions
Munich has a plethora of interesting places to visit – museums, palaces, gardens etc. The Deutsches Museum has an impressive collection of sailing ships, models of atoms, windmills, space probes, diesel locomotives, industrial robots, organs, lifeboats, track and road vehicles on display. Covering an area of 50,000 square metres, the  Deutsches Museum is not only one of the first scientific-technological museums in the world, and one of the most frequently visited, but one of the largest too.

The BMW museum, housed inside the distinctive architecture in the shape of a futuristic silver bowl, takes you on a journey through technical feats of pioneering – from the historic BMW sports car through legendary prototypes, right up to a futuristic study of automobiles and motorcycles.

The Church of St Peter is the oldest parish church in the city, and is known affectionately by the locals as Alter Peter (Old Peter). The church stands on a hill called Petersbergl, which is the only noteworthy elevation within the Munich’s historic Old Town. A climb of 299 stairs up the St Peter tower will allow you to take in a panoramic view of the city centre. In good weather, you can even see the Alps from this vantage point.

The baroque Nymphenburg Palace, west of Munich, was the summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs. Five generations of Wittelsbach rulers were involved in its construction. Today, it houses the Museum of Man and Nature, the Porcelain Museum for the on-site porcelain manufacturer Nymphenburg, and the Marstallmuseum in it’s wings.

The Munich Hofbräuhaus was first established in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V, in order to satisfy the demands of his household. Much of the Hofbräuhaus was destroyed during a bomb strike in 1944, and by the end of the war only a small portion of the restaurant was operational. Amazingly, several hundred beer steins were rescued from the basement, unscathed despite the bombing. Rebuilt in its original style, the hall reopened in 1958 to honour Munich’s 800th birthday. Today it attracts locals and tourists alike for a casual light meal and a litre of beer.

Other tourist attractions worth taking in are the Englischer Garten, the Residenz, the Frauenkirche, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz, the old Olympic stadium which played host to the 1972 Games, and the Allianz Arena – the home of legendary German football club Bayern Munich.

Lufthansa Reinstates Cape Town-Munich Route

During the upcoming summer season, Lufthansa will begin flying non-stop between Cape Town and Munich, for travellers with an interest in the city or a desire to explore the Alps, Italy and Eastern Europe. The airline will operate five direct flights to the Bavarian capital a week, starting on 26 October – no transit in Johannesburg. Lufthansa’s A430 has a three-class configuration – eight seats in First Class, 48 in Business Class, and 165 in Economy. Flight LH575 departs Cape Town at 19h00 and arrives in Munich at 05h35 the next morning.

The City that Loves You

The city’s motto is is “München mag dich” (Munich loves you). Before 2006, it was “Weltstadt mit Herz” (Cosmopolitan city with a heart). Its native name, München, is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning “by the monk’s place”. The city’s name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city – hence the monk depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Black and gold — the colours of the Holy Roman Empire – have been the city’s official colours since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian.

Fact File

Population: 1.38 million

Time zone: GMT +1

Plugs: Two-pin round

Dialling code: +49 89

Currency:  Euro; $1 = €0.75

Language: German

Religion: Christianity

Kate Kennedy