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New Town Hall Munich

Villa Munichen becomes Civitas

City Tours

estimated reading time: 16 Minutes

Be amazed by …

Explore – Experience – Enjoy …

Thoughts for the day …

Beauty is always in the eye or brain of the beholder. The perception of beauty is a very complex subject area that depends on many factors:

Brief info accessible… Here we go… 😊

Starting point:Your hotel in Munich
End point:Your hotel in Munich
Route conditions:paved road or cobblestones
Route length:4 km
Duration:4 hours without car
Contact:Jörg Hildebrandt | +49 173 / 3722480 |
Languages:German and English
Food:Snacks on the way
Restrooms accessible:Globetrotter, Isartorplatz 10
Eataly, Viktualienmarkt 15, UG

Introduction – Munich is born …

The first inhabitants of Munich wore skins, hunted animals and lived in caves. Where the old town is now, around the Marienplatz, there were huge forests with many animals in the Neolithic Age. And there was also a wild river, the raging Isar. From the Karwendel Mountains near Mittenwald to the Danube near Deggendorf, it meandered through the valley.

On the way, it left behind many stones and gravel, creating small water arms and even two islands, the Museum Island and the Prater Island in Munich. It regularly flooded the land, so in the course of time a deep furrow formed, the Isarhochufer came into being.

Floßfahrt-auf-der-Isar heute_hier bei Georgenstein
Rafting on the Isar

The fertile land attracted the first settlers. After the Celts, who reached the Isar before the birth of Christ, came the Bavarians. They settled on the safe high bank of the Isar in the early Middle Ages. They cut down trees, built huts and began to work the soil. Small settlements sprang up, among the oldest being the villages of Sendling, Schwabing and Giesing.

In Upper Bavaria, monks founded monasteries at Tegernsee and Schäftlarn. Soon the first also came to the high banks of the Isar to preach the Christian faith to the peasants. The monks settled at Petersbergl. They built a small church and a monastery. Today, the “Old Peter” stands on this spot.

More and more people moved around Petersbergl and settled there as hardworking farmers. The village was called “apud munichen”, meaning “by the monks”. This is how Munich got its name.

The “white gold” – who or what pays the bills …

Downstream from the Isar was the small village of Unterföhring. A first bridge was built because the salt extracted in the Bavarian mountains had to cross the Isar on its way to Augsburg, Lake Constance and Switzerland. A bridge was built because salt was as precious as gold at that time.

Today, salt is usually at the bottom of the shelf in the supermarket. You can buy a pound for as little as 15 cents. For thousands of years, salt was the only way to preserve fish, meat, fruit and vegetables for a longer period of time. This method of preservation is known almost everywhere in the world as salting. As early as 250 B.C., for example, the Chinese introduced a salt tax to increase state revenue. The construction of the Great Wall was financed with salt at the time.

The settlement “apud Munichen” developed into one of the most important salt trading towns on the salt road and thus there was soon a lot of traffic on the bridge. The Bishop of Freising, who owned Unterföhring, was very enterprising and collected a piece of silver as customs duty from every carriage that passed the bridge.

This annoyed the Bavarian ‘Duke Henry the Lion’, to whom the area near the village apud munichen was subject. He built a bridge near today’s Gasteig himself. After completion he moved with his warriors to Unterföhring in 1157, burned down the warehouses and set fire to the Isar bridge there. The carts and the customs duties were subsequently diverted.

The Bishop of Freising called on Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for help. The emperor decided that Henry the Lion had to pay the Freising bishop one third of all revenues from the salt trade. But in any case, the construction of the bridge marked the beginning of the rise of the small settlement of Munichen to a bustling market town.

The bridge in question is the Ludwigsbrücke, which crosses the Isar near the Deutsches Museum.

From the beginning …

With the short historical summary and the importance of the Ludwigsbrücke for Munich, we reach the Zweibrückentrasse the Isartor. This is where our tour is to start:


Turmuhr am Isartorplatz
Mirror-inverted tower clock runs anticlockwise

The almost completely preserved city gate was built between 1285 and 1347 by Ludwig the Bavarian in the course of the great expansion of the city. Restored in 1833 by Friedrich von Gärtner, the gate shows a fresco with the triumphal procession of Emperor Ludwig after the Battle of Ampfing. After the gate was severely damaged in World War II, it was restored to its original condition in the early 1970s.

The tower at the Isartor is adorned by two glass dials. A close look at them quickly reveals that something is wrong here.

While the hands of the tower clock facing Isartorplatz turn clockwise as normal, the hands on the west side, facing the valley, run mirror-inverted.

The clock face is also drawn in reverse. This is intentional, because the clock is reminiscent of Karl Valentin and Bavaria. Because already Willy Brandt knew:

In Bavaria, the clocks go differently“.
Quote: Willy Brandt, former German Chancellor

From the Isartor, we now walk through the valley in the direction of Marienplatz. The valley extends over a length of 500 meters between the Old Town Hall at Marienplatz in the west and Isartor in the east. The valley was thus part of the Salt Road, which led from Salzburg or Bad Reichenhall via Munich and Landsberg am Lech to Switzerland. At the end of the valley is the Heilig Geist Church.

Heilig Geist‘ Church “Pretzel Rider

Heilig Geist Kirche
Breznreiter distributes pretzel to poor

The Catholic parish church Heilig next to the Viktualienmarkt is one of Munich’s old church buildings. It is also called Heiliggeistspitalkirche. Duke Ludwig I the Kelheim founded a hospital at the Thalburgtor around 1208. The Thalburgtor is today the tower of the Old Town Hall. The city fire of 1327 destroyed this hospital including the chapel.

In the central ceiling fresco of the nave of the Heiliggeistkirche at the Viktualienmarkt is the so-called “Breznreiter“, a bearded middle-aged man, dressed in a brown robe, holding a basket of pretzels in his left hand.

Viktualienmarkt – From farmers’ market to place for gourmets

Fresh vegetables at Viktualienmarkt

Until the beginning of the 19th century, Munich residents still came to the neighboring Marienplatz to stock up on grain, fruit and vegetables, fish or eggs. Then, however, the market was bursting at the seams, and in 1807 King Max I Joseph ordered the area between the Heiliggeistkirche and Frauenstrasse to be used as a sales area.

The Viktualienmarkt in the center of Munich was once a simple farmers’ market. Today it makes gourmets’ hearts beat faster, because here you can find exotic delicacies from all over the world as well as traditional Bavarian products.

The rise of the market could start like this, but experienced a serious cut due to the destruction during the Second World War. Afterwards, new sales halls and “Standl” were built. The offer ranges from fish, poultry and game, cheese, wine, bread, fruit, vegetables and exotic fruits to flowers. A beer garden is also an integral part of the Viktualienmarkt.

Schrannenhalle – from grain hall to gourmet temple

The Schrannenhalle in Munich (the official name was Maximilians-Getreide-Halle) was built from 1851 to 1853 by Franz Karl Muffat as a grain hall on the edge of the Viktualienmarkt. Schranne was the name given to a grain market at that time.

Until then, the grain market was held on Marienplatz, which was still called Schrannenplatz until 1854. Since this area became too small for the market, it was moved to the new hall. The Schrannenhalle at that time had a length of 430 meters. The construction of glass and iron was considered a technical masterpiece.

Asam Church

Kirche St. Johann_Nepomuk
Interior Asam Church

Most beautiful church in the Bavarian late Baroque“.

The church of St. John Nepomuk was built in 1733 – 1746, attributed to St. Nepomuk, patron saint of the Electorate of Bavaria.

Nestled between the houses of Sendlinger Straße, the Asam church stands in a very confined space. It is only 8 meters wide and 27 meters long, which also makes the construction work an art.

Due to its status as a private church, it has some peculiarities:

  • The church is “vested” and not “osted” as usual, which means that the high altar is located to the west.
  • In addition, the crucifix, placed opposite the pulpit, is hung too low. In Baroque churches, this is supposed to hang higher than the pulpit, so that the preacher must also look up at Jesus.

“Dazzled amazement and shaking of the head …”

“Alter Peter” – Munich’s oldest parish church

St. Peter’s Church or, as the people of Munich like to say, “Old Peter” was built in the Romanesque church style on the Petersbergl as early as 1181.

St. Peter’s was thus the first and thus the oldest city parish church of Munich, which was founded in 1158.

The tower of Alter Peter is 91 meters high and was the highest building in the city in earlier times.

In addition to the viewing platform (unfortunately not barrier-free), the highlights of the church include the belfry, the baroque high altar with a golden figure of St. Peter and the relics of St. Mundita. The mortal remains of the Roman saint lie adorned with gold in a glass coffin.


City Hall with Glockenspiel and Frauenkirche in the background
City Hall with Glockenspiel and Frauenkirche in the background

The heart of Munich is Marienplatz. It is located in the center of the city, in the pedestrian zone and is an important traffic junction – cyclists and pedestrians, rickshaws, cabs and buses, the subway and the S-Bahn.

On the one hand, you can start your shopping trip perfectly from here, on the other hand, Marienplatz is the center for celebrations and political, cultural or sporting events.

Rallies or demonstrations are held here and FC Bayern Munich also traditionally celebrates its successes on the balcony of the New City Hall.

New town hall and carillon

Famous carillon in the town hall
Famous carillon in the town hall

The New City Hall on Marienplatz in Munich is the seat of the Lord Mayor, the City Council and the headquarters of the city administration. Due to the lack of space in the Old City Hall, it was decided to build a new building. To commemorate the civic heyday during the Gothic period, the City Hall was built in neo-Gothic style. In 1944 it was slightly damaged by bombing and rebuilt after the war.

Under the spire is the fifth largest and also the first electromechanically operated carillon in Europe, the largest in Germany.

Fischbrunnen – “Wallet washing” („purse laundering“ the Bavarian way)

Fish fountain at Marienplatz
Fish fountain at Marienplatz

The Fischbrunnen was built in 1886 by Konrad Knoll, completely destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt in the 1950s. Over the centuries, there have been many fountains on this site – the first record dates back to 1343, when it was a draw well that reached down to Munich’s groundwater.

According to an old tradition, the purse washing for a rosy future takes place every year on Ash Wednesday at 11:30 am.

The tradition dates back to the 15th century (1426) – the service staff at that time wanted to draw the attention of their lordship to the fact that after the foolish carnival hustle and bustle, the purses were empty and needed to be replenished.

The carnival custom is also practiced in numerous other communities; for example, in Bonn, Erlangen or Freiburg.Der Faschingsbrauch wird auch in zahlreichen anderen Kommunen praktiziert; so etwa in Bonn, Erlangen oder Freiburg.

Fish fountain – “Metzgersprung“

The butcher’s leap is a rite of passage by which apprentices wash themselves clean of their youthful sins. In Munich, it also has a meaning all its own.

450 years ago, when the Black Death had raged within the walls of the city of Munich, the guilds of the butchers and Schäffler paraded through the still desolate alleys of the city with merry dancing and jingling music to lure the fearful citizens out of their houses and back onto the streets.

Today, every three years in September, the young butchers in Munich jump into the fish fountain at Marienplatz. Behind this is a kind of baptism by the butchers’ guild, which celebrates the completion of the apprenticeship. A historical craft tradition that is one of the oldest customs in the city of Munich.

Old city hall

Old City Hall Tower
Old City Hall Tower

There are two town halls on Marienplatz – the Old Town Hall and the current seat of the Lord Mayor and the City Council. The Old Town Hall developed in part from the old Leonine city fortifications of Munich. In 1460, however, the ensemble of buildings was struck by lightning and burned down.

As a result, the Munich master builder Jörg von Halspach, also known as Ganghofer, implemented the design of a late Gothic town hall starting in 1470. A special feature is the banqueting hall on the first floor, also known as the dance hall. The late Gothic room with its barrel vaulting by master carpenter Hans Wengler is one of the architectural masterpieces of Munich’s Gothic style.

Sculptor Erasmus Grasser carved the precious “Moriscan Dancers,” which can also be found in the large ballroom. The name is derived from the “morris dance”, a widespread gelatinous jumping dance whose origins lie in Africa. 10 of the 16 figures, can be admired as copies in the dance hall – the originals are in the Munich City Museum.

Church of Our Dear Lady

Illuminated towers of the Frauenkirche
Illuminated towers of the Frauenkirche

Together with Cologne Cathedral, the Frauenkirche is the most important metropolitan cathedral in Central Europe.

The Munich Frauenkirche – Metropolitan Church of Our Dear Lady – was built in place of a three-aisled pier basilica from 1240 between 1468 and 1488 by master builder Jörg von Halsbach (Jörg Ganghofer).

The characteristic tower domes executed as onion domes, the so-called ‘Welsche Hauben’, followed only 36 years later in 1525 after the death of the master builder Jörg von Halsbach. These are modeled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The nave is 109 meters long, 40 meters wide, 37 meters high and was at the time dimensioned to accommodate all the inhabitants of Munich of about 20,000 people.

The Frauenkirche is the largest hall church in the world. A treat for the ears is the cathedral music. The great main organ is one of four organs in the cathedral that come from the workshop of Georg Jann (Alkofen near Regensburg). Just one example: when the lowest note of the organ is played, it sounds like an earthquake with a blower – it takes eleven seconds for the organ note to fade away. After all, the associated pipe is 9.60 meters long.

Frauenkirche Special – dated 27.10.2019

Two wedding rings in gold
Two wedding rings in gold

Ehepaarfest –33201 Jahre Liebe versammelt im Liebfrauendom – am 27.10.2019 hat Kardinal Reinhard Marx mehr als750 Ehepaare gesegnet.


Plastic sitting lion in leather pants with beer mug
Plastic sitting lion in leather pants with beer mug

The historic and traditional inn in downtown Munich is probably one of the best known in the world. Cultural promotion is writ large. Real Bavarian folk music is played live on all three floors 365 days a year.

As one of Munich’s two traditional breweries, Hofbräu München remains in Bavarian hands today and is located in downtown Munich Am Platzl. Anchored in tradition and keeping an eye on new trends, the unmistakable Hofbräu beers have been produced here for over 400 years. Hofbräu München attaches great importance to natural raw materials and still brews according to the Bavarian Purity Law.

It goes without saying that only the best quality products are used: Water from the company’s own deep well, hops from the Hallertau region, high-quality malt and yeast from its own pure yeast breeding facility.

You’ll feel like you’re “playing hooky” – just wonderful …

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