Our Danube River cruise starts in Passau, which is about a 2 hour drive from Munich. We flew in 2 days early to give us a little time to look around the city of Munich.
We arrived in the afternoon, settled into our hotel and went for a walk to the Hofbräuhaus. This famous beer hall is a Munich institution. It was built in 1880, and was one of the first places rebuilt after WWII. A slogan painted above an archway translates as “Thirst is worse than homesickness”. The band was playing classic Oompah music and the tables were filled with people enjoying cheap food and beer on tap.
The following day we did Rick Steves‘ walking tour of Munich. It gave us a great overview of the centre of the city and a strong sense of the history. We wandered past Max-Joseph-Platz & the National Theatre, Odeonsplatz with its Florentine loggia, elegant buildings rebuilt from the rubble of WWII, and ended up in the Hofgarten, the former grounds of the Residenz palace and a lovely green oasis in the city.
One of the most unusual monuments we saw was this swathe of bronzed cobblestones in Viscardigasse. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he made a memorial in Odeonsplatz to honour Nazis killed during the Beer Hall Putsch 10 years earlier. To avoid saluting the memorial, brave dissenters instead took a shortcut down Viscardigasse. These shiny stones mark their route and recalls that troubled time.
St Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Munich (hence the name – Old Peter). It was founded in 1158, though the present building dates from “only” 1368. The ceiling fresco depicting St Peter being crucified upside down, is typical of the Bavarian style. Like much of Munich, it was almost destroyed by bombing in WWII but has been rebuilt. The skeleton of St Munditia, dressed in jewels, with beady eyes (literally) was gruesome but interesting. While we were there a choir was rehearsing and we were treated to beautiful music.
Marienplatz is the main square of Munich. The neo-gothic New Town Hall dominates, with its soaring spire and famous Glockenspiel. It looks medieval, but was built in the late 19th century. We arrived just in time to see the clock perform – along with all the tourists in Munich, it seems. The golden statue at the centre of the square is Mary, sculpted in 1509. The cherubs at the 4 corners of the statue are fighting war, hunger, plague & Protestantism. The Old Town Hall sports the city seal on its bell tower. It looks newer than the New Town Hall because it was completely destroyed by the bombs.
The Viktualienmarkt is a produce market in the centre of the city. There has been a market here for centuries. The monks brewed beer here and stored it in cellars kept cool by the shade of the chestnut trees – a tradition continued in beer gardens today. The city keeps the market alive by charging low rent and keeping fast food stores out. The tall maypole at the centre of the market is painted in Bavaria’s traditional blue and white and decorated with emblems of the city’s seven great breweries. The lower part of the maypole celebrates the world’s oldest food law – the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity law) of 1516, that stipulated that beer could only consist of 3 ingredients – barley, hops and water. We enjoyed wandering around the market but it was raining steadily and many of the stalls were covered in plastic. Another time it would be fun to have a beer and a pretzel in the beer garden. Back in the Middle Ages, beer was considered to be food.
And that’s the end of our first full day of this trip! It really was a whirlwind tour! Tomorrow we will head out of the city to visit the former Nazi Concentration camp at Dachau.
- To see all the posts about our 2016 Danube River cruise click HERE.
- Although this post was written in 2021, it happened in June 2016, 5 years ago. Since I didn’t document the trip at the time, now seemed as good a time as any to catch up.