The next morning we were up early for a walking tour of Munich.
There’s no better way to see the sights and learn the history and stories behind them, which is what exploring a new city is all about!
We met up with our guide on Marienplatz, the main square in the centre of Munich. It has been the focal point of the city since 1158 and seems the obvious place to kick off the tour.
The square was home to the Rathaus or town hall. The new town hall in actual fact. The old one was only a stones throw away..but this New neo-gothic hall is the bigger, older looking of the two despite construction only starting in 1867 and opening in 1909. The old town hall has foundations in the 14th century, however like much of Munich, was bombed during WWII and had to be rebuilt almost entirely from scratch.
Before we got started P and I made a quick dash into a little coffee shop on the square and acquired some treats for breakfast. We were in for a long tour and I never need an excuse to tuck into goodies on holiday!
Pastries and coffee in hand, we walked back over to the Rathaus to begin the tour. We were just in time to listen to one of three daily chimes from the carillon. The bells on the tower were sent for refurbishment and ever since have been slightly out of tune, giving one interesting performance!
Then the characters on the clock come to life and tell us two stories. First, that of the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V and secondly the dance of the coopers that came out of their houses in the days after the plague to encourage people to come back outside! The dance worked so well that it was decreed that they must perform this dance for eternity. And so, eternity still going, it is still performed every 7 years on the Marienplatz.
It was a great display of historical and mythological figures, jousting knights and dancing coopers and well worth a watch.
Story time over, we moved on to the cathedral or Frauenkirche.
Before we entered its doors our guide told us the legend of the cathedral. Back in the days of old when the church was being built, the builder, Halsbach, made a deal with the devil to finance and build the church quickly on condition that it had no windows. However, Halsbach tricked the devil by placing columns just inside the entrance so that the windows would not be seen from the doorway where the devil stood. When he later discovered that he had been fooled it was already too late as the church had been fully constructed and was consecrated so he was therefore unable to enter. He stood at the entrance and stomped his foot in great anger and this footprint can still be seen today.
Like the rest of Munich, the cathedral saw damage during the war. The two towers remained intact because they were and still remain to this day, to be the tallest structures inside the city. Because of this they were used as markers so the pilots knew where they were headed to drop their bombs. The rest of the cathedral was not so lucky. Once the war was over it needed a lot of reconstruction which was funded in part by the Jewish community who returned to the city and their homes as soon as they were able to safely do so.
Leaving behind the Frauenkirche we walked on to the statue of composer Orlando di Lasso. Since the death of Michael Jackson the statue has become a shrine to the singer, covered in photographs of the icon and numerous trinkets. This is because the statue is placed outside the hotel Bayerischer Hof, where Jackson stayed when he was in Munich, the most expensive hotel in the city. The entire area is upmarket, made up of banks and shopping arcades with all the top designers. This area is called the promenadeplatz and has always been a rich part of town, dating back to when it used to be the home of the salt market. Rich business indeed!
Directly next to the Jackson shrine is the statue of the minister Count Maximilian von Montgelas in front of what was his old palace. See, rich part of town!
..and then onto a small square where we were told the stories of Der Affenturm.
In particular the legend of the monkey tower. Once the home of the Bavarian rulers, the Wittelsbach family. The palace was home to a pet monkey which the newborn Duke’s son, Ludwig, enjoyed playing with. One day, the family nanny came into the nursery to find the monkey in the room with young Ludwig and thought the monkey was attacking him. She chased it out of the room and the monkey ran up to the highest point in the palace, the tower, where it climbed onto the roof. The family tried to coax it down with food but nothing worked. The monkey wanted bananas, which were not available. After some time passed and no luck, a man wandered by from the pub and saw the monkey, placed his tankard of wheat beer down and shouted to the monkey to get down. The monkey, smelling the fruity notes of the wheat beer ran straight down, past the man and gobbled up all his beer!
Lunch time was fast approaching, so we headed in the direction of the largest open market in Munich.
The Viktualienmarkt consists of a wide selection of food stalls, selling everything you could think of. We wandered around the 600 seater beer garden, which was packed full of like minded individuals on this sunny day at lunch hour.
But it didn’t take long for us to decide on a good old fashion Bratwurst to satisfy our ever hungry tums and we stopped off for lunch.
And I was as happy as this little dude!