Walking in & around Marienplatz – The Heart of Munich

This is a continuation of my series documenting our time in Central Europe. We had started the trip in Munich & seen the beautiful Nymphenburg palace & gardens in the morning. By the time we were done with the huge complex it was lunch time and we were really hungry from all the walking around.

We returned to the city centre by tram from Nymphenburg and were thinking about where to satiate our rumbling bellies. Beer gardens are a big part of the Munich experience, open spaces full of people eating, drinking beer and having fun. The Viktulienmarkt, a huge open air market was just across the road from our hotel. Right in the centre of the market was the Viktulienmarkt beer garden, so we made a beeline for it .

The beer garden was packed and the server asked us if we would share a table with others. We were too hungry to even think otherwise. So we sat down with another group and had lunch. I ate the wonderful goulash with  potato dumpling ( It would turn out to be my staple dish throughout this trip!) and had a mug of the dark beer (First of the many amazing mugs downed on this trip!) . Germany is not a particularly enticing place for vegetarians & the better half had to be satisfied with a huge portion of French fries with dips.

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First beer of the trip! A mug of Dunkel!
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Delicious Goulash and refreshing beer! Half gone!

After demolishing our lunch we decided to walk around the Altstadt – the old town of Munich. To be accurate Munich was heavily bombed in the World War II.  Much of the old town was reconstructed to historical accuracy after the war. So most of it wasn’t really very old, but all of it was very atmospheric & very crowded in the middle of the day.

I am not a fan of jostling with crowds so we decided to escape the crowds for some time and have a post lunch workout by climbing the bell tower of the Peterskirche or St Peter’s Church. The tower is the highest point in the old town area & I’m always a sucker for a good view. So we stood in line for the tower tickets and proceeded to huff & puff our way up the narrow stairs. Having climbed what seemed like countless tall towers and domes in our two previous Italy trips this was relatively a cinch!

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The bell tower of the Peterskirche – Our first climb of the trip!

Once we reached the top the views were spectacular as expected. We circled the tower and saw the city spread out all around us. Munich has a law which prevents any building to be built taller than the Frauenkirche’s twin domes, that makes for a very flat city with just a few spires of churches and the town hall sticking out from an otherwise flat skyline. The Frauenkirche dominates the skyline and makes for a pleasant sight.

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The New Rathaus – The new town hall & Marienplatz below
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The Church itself in the foreground & a very flat city beyond
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The twin onion domes of the talismanic Frauenkirche dominates the skyline

After we had enjoyed the view for half an hour and taken photos to our satisfaction we descended and went to the actual church itself. The Peterskirche is supposed to be the place where the oldest church in Munich once stood. It is a good example of baroque architecture. High painted ceilings, gilded columns, bronze statues and a huge golden altar. All very impressive and intended to fill the visitor with awe. Somehow I have seen that however crowded the streets are, the churches are relatively empty. And a good place to get away from the crowds outside.

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The impressive interiors of the Peterskirche
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The high painted ceiling always impresses me !

We did our usual church routine. Walk down the nave, see the altar, take lots of photos, read the information we have about the Church.After that is done, sit in the pews for a few minutes just taking in the atmosphere. This is our routine in all churches – just to avoid repetition later, since we visited many churches in the old town.

Next we walked through the Marienplatz square towards the iconic Munich Cathedral or the Frauenkirche as it is called by locals ( Church of our dear lady). The iconic church & its towers were under major restoration. We visited the interiors which are huge and stark as compared to Peterskirche. High vaulted ceilings and whitewashed walls make it very different from the other highly decorated churches. The church was almost completely destroyed in the WW 2 bombings except for parts of the tower and has has been reconstructed after the war. It has the tombs of the kings of Bavaria, the Wittelsbach in the aisles which were removed during the war and hence have survived.

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Restoration underway of the towers of the iconic Frauenkirche
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The stark interiors of the Munich Cathedral 
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One of the impressive tombs of the Wittelsbach kings of Bavaria

We then walked the busiest shopping street of Munich, the Kaufingerstrasse towards the St Micheal’s Church. The street has all designer shops which are way out of reach for us budget travellers. The only thing we would buy here were two freshly baked jam and chocolate filled croissants as a mid day snack.

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Kaufingerstrasse – The high end shopping street of Munich

The St Micheal’s Church is another iconic Church which is the biggest Renaissance Church in Bavaria. The interior has a huge dome and architecture reminiscent of the churches in Rome, which were the inspiration for this church. For those who say that all churches are the same, we had just visited three totally different churches. Each having its own distinct architecture and beauty.

The symmetry of churches is just made for photography, and I always enjoy photographing the interiors of churches. We finished our routine and walked out of the church.

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The Romanesque architecture of the St Micheal’s Church
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High circular arches all the way upto the roof- hallmark of Renaissance architecture

By now it was evening and the tiredness of the long flight and the day’s sightseeing had caught up with both of us. So we returned to the hotel and promptly dropped off to sleep. We were so tired that we didn’t even wake up for dinner that night.

I woke up very early the next day having completed my sleep and feeling fresh to have an early morning walk around Marienplatz and take photos avoiding the swarm of tourists that descends on the square later in the day.

The square was entirely empty except for the cleaners and a handful of over enthusiastic Asians like me with their cameras. I had what I wanted, an empty square with beautiful early morning lighting. Both I and my camera had a blast.

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Empty roads at dawn leading upto Marienplatz
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An empty Marienplatz & New town hall in the early morning light
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The old town hall paints a pretty picture
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What a marked difference a few hours make!

I then proceeded to walk the now empty Kaufingerstrasse just to contrast the experience of jostling with hundreds of people the day before. Now I could count the people on the street on one hand.

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An empty shopping street – The Kaufingerstrasse at dawn

I walked around the Frauenkirche and took photos of the front facade (seen earlier in this post ) and then walked back towards our hotel pleased with the morning’s efforts.

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The Heiliggeistkirche – A small church across the road from St Peter’s

The packed Viktulienmarkt we had seen the day before seemed like a totally different place from the one I was walking through. The numerous small water fountains inside the market that I had paid no attention to the previous day now became subjects for the camera.

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An empty Viktulienmarkt brings  the Water fountains in focus
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The guitarist seems to be waiting for his crowd to arrive
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The beer garden we ate at the day before wears a deserted look at dawn

I returned to our hotel just in time for the breakfast service to begin and having worked up an appetite for the vast buffet on offer. A great start to what would be a great day in this beautiful city.

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The beautiful little hotel we stayed at – Hotel am Viktulienmarkt

We would pass through this heart of Munich a few more times in our time here, especially on our way to & from the Residenz Palace which was the next sightseeing on the agenda for the day.

But that is topic for another post , another day.

Till then.

Tschau.

 

 

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