Multifaceted Munich

Munich’s ‘New City Hall’, built in 1867 and pictured above, translates into German as ‘Neues Rat-haus’. 

Brief History

Spelled München in German and pronounced “moon-chn”, Munich means “Home of the Monks” and derives from a Benedictine monastery founded around 750 CE.

Model of the city of Munich, 1570

Charlemagne who died in 814 is credited with starting the prominent Wittelsbach family and by 1180, the Wittelsbach family had risen to became the Dukes of Bavaria. Munich grew and prospered under their guidance for more than 700 years. The 19th century however, was Munich’s greatest period of growth and development; the population grew from 100,000 in 1854 to 500,000 by 1900.  Musical composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) enhanced the city’s cultural attraction during this time as well.

The Wittelsbach dynasty would finally end in November 1918 at the close of World War I.  

Busts of the Wittelsbach Line, 1720

It was in Munich, in 1919, that Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) joined the newly formed National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party and within two years he became the party’s leader.  

The SA, or the Sturmabteilung, were formed in Munich, in 1921 by Hitler himself. They were also known as the Storm Troopers or the Brownshirts, whose violent tactics played a huge role in Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Members of the SA were generally former soldiers and men with violent tendencies, whose job initially was to protect the Nazi rallies, fight people from the leftist parties and physically assault political opponents. 

The SS, or the Schutzstaffel, was created in 1925 originally to serve as Hitler’s personal bodyguards. The SS was made up of anti-Semitic Germans who possessed racial hatred.  In 1929, Heinrich Himmler was appointed as the head of the SS. The SS was held responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the ‘Final Solution’, in which countless Jews and other ethnic groups were murdered. Victims also included the unemployed, the disabled, homosexuals, religious leaders and political opponents.

The Nazi Party felt the need for a secret police organization, and hence, the Geheime Staatspolizei – the Gestapo, was created in 1933. The Gestapo would become one of the most-feared organizations in Germany. It was created to strengthen Nazi rule by eliminating anyone who could be perceived as a threat to the Party.

Prior to the Federal Election of 1933, many citizens were terrified of voting, but many voted for the Nazi Party out of fear for their own safety. The Nazi party, specifically the SA and the SS had been on a long campaign of violence to scare or imprison opponents to the party. They placed many in the first concentration camp, Dachau, which opened just prior to the national vote in 1933. The elections were neither free nor fair. 

In January 1933 President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany and in March 1933 the Nazi Party won the Federal election. The totalitarian regime quickly took and held decisive control of Germany for the next 12 years: 1933-1945.  

After Germany’s defeat in World War II (1939-1945), the Nazi Party was outlawed. The SA, SS and the Gestapo were officially declared to be criminal organizations and banned in Germany by the International Tribunal in 1945.

Bayerisches Nationalmuseum 

We elected to visit the Bavarian National Museum, founded in 1855, to learn and understand more of the local Munich history. The foundation of the collection dates from the art collection of the Wittelsbach family. It contains German historical art dating back a 1000 years to the Middle Ages and provides a history trail via art and artifacts. 

The museum is known for its collections of carved ivory, goldsmith works, jewelry, textiles, glass painting, tapestries and shrines, musical instruments, furniture, oil paintings, sketches, clocks, stoneware, majolica, miniatures, porcelain, ceramics, weapons and statues. 

One of the museum’s oldest treasures is the Scandinavian made Box of St. Kunigunde from around 1000 CE. It is made of oak wood, mammoth tusks, ivory and gilded bronze fittings. There are numerous intricately carved birds, animal heads, a partial face and braid-like designs reminiscent of the work of the Vikings on the Box.

Box of St. Kunigunde, 1000

One entire floor displayed countless nativity scenes, each filled with outstanding details. This next photo of a nativity was created in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s by various artists and was named “Adoration of the Shepherds and the People in the Gulf of Naples”. Mount Vesuvius can be seen on the horizon.

Adoration of the Shepherds and the People in the Gulf of Naples

Bürgersaalkirche

Munich’s old town architectural style is predominantly Baroque and Rococo including the 18th-century Marianist church. Interestingly the Bürgersaal is on the upper floor and the Museum of the Marian Men’s Congregation is on the lower floor.

Bürgersaalkirche

Theatinerkirche

The Theatine Church is said to have been built as a thank you gift for the birth, in 1662, of a long awaited heir to the Bavarian crown. The church was built in the Baroque style from 1663 to 1690, but the brilliant yellow exterior, added in 1765-1768, is in the Rococo style.

The eye-popping yellow color became a symbol of Munich and nearly 250 years later it is still a dramatic and inspiring site.

The Theatine Church

Asamkirche

Tucked in between a number of houses, Asam Church, also known as St. Johann of Nepomuk Church is a baroque church built from 1733 to 1746 by two brothers, one a sculptor and the other a painter, for their own private church. The church is only 72 feet x 26 feet (22×8 m) and luckily today, is open to the public.

The ceiling fresco “Life of Saint Nepomuk” is considered a masterpiece by the brother that painted, Cosmas Damian Asam.

The frescoed ceiling of the Asam Church

Alte Pinakothek

The Alte Pinakothek “Old Picture Gallery“ is Munich’s oldest museum. The Wittelsbach family began collecting art in the 16th century and the museum claims to have one of the more important collections of old masters in the world, including work by Jan Bruegel the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Da Vinci, Memling, Rembrandt and Rubens. We love the brilliant colors Botticelli used and the sweet faces Raphael and Bellini painted.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Carnation, 1475

This painting by Leonardo da Vinci, (1452-1519) is believed to be one of his earliest paintings.

During the renovation of the Neue Pinakothek, there were dozens of fabulous works by the Impressionists on display in the Lower Gallery. Vincent van Gogh apparently created at least 11 paintings of sunflowers arranged in a ceramic vase against a yellow background and we were delighted to find this one.

Sunflowers, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh

BMW Museum

The BMW Museum, founded in 1973, not only focuses on BMW’s technical development of the company’s history by showcasing a variety of vehicles, it also predicts a zero emissions future. The museum states the following about a concept vehicle named the BMW Lovos (Lifestyle Of Voluntary Simplicity)

“The BMW Lovos consists of 260 identical, individual components that are attached to a structure lying beneath them. The special feature of the BMW Lovos’ outer skin concept is the fact that all 260 of the components can be moved and controlled individually. This flexibility of the parts makes it possible to alter the outer skin according to the situation. In the case of strong braking, for example, the wind resistance of a vehicle will be sharply increased based on the principle of a brake flap, shortening the stopping distance. In contrast, the vehicle’s aerodynamics can be adjusted to the external effects of high speed to boost its efficiency. Even much more innovative scenarios are possible: for example, individual sections could be equipped with integrated solar cells. When the vehicle is stopped, individual plates could be orientated toward the sun and thus use the sunlight as an energy source.”

A model of the BMW Lovos

“BMW operates its own research center to create the battery technology of tomorrow. Experts examine the optimal composition of the most vital resources, consistently improve energy and power density as well as safety and service life. Today, the company covers every stage of the battery cycle – from research overproduction all the way to recycling.”

This Hydrogen Fuel Cell also caught our imagination. It is a purely electrically powered vehicle that uses hydrogen as an energy carrier and converts it to electricity in a fuel cell. Advantage: no heavy battery on board and short refueling times.

Hydrogen Full Cell Drive

Today, Munich is a global center of art and culture, IT, banking and finance, publishing, television production, innovation, education, biotechnology, medicine and engineering.  The city has several of the largest breweries in Germany and is famous for its beer and, of course, its annual Oktoberfest celebration.  Munich has much to offer any time of the year and has deservedly become a major tourist destination.

Prost from these Münchners,

Ted + Julia

View our Alte Pinakothek photo album here

View our Asam Church (Asamkirche) photo album here

View our Bavarian National Museum photo album here

View our Bavarian National Museum – Nativity Scenes photo album here

View our BMW Museum photo album here

View our Museum of the Marian Men’s Congregation (Bürgersaalkirche) photo album here

View our Theatine Church (Theatinerkirche) photo album here

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