When it comes to my holiday since I started planning in earlier this year, I have no hesitation to pick Munich as my destination, to me, it feels like an unfinished story that I have bonded to this city since my last and very brief visit almost a decade ago, the charm and historic past the laid beneath the tranquil and beautiful cityscape now, there are something that I still haven’t discover yet that I wanted to do it again, but this time, not a brief stop like a marathon checkpoint but really, a thorough understanding and walking into this complex layer of each story that hidden in this Bavarian capital which filled with profound culture and beauty.
First thing for me to plan my itinerary, is to create a story of how I wish this visit of mine looks like, therefore, I decided to create my own story, with two legendary and iconic figures that related to this historic Bavarian city – which are the fairy-tale thinking, beauty appreciating swan king, and, the most notorious and barbarous dictator, to create a contradictory, whimsical yet interesting journey this time. Two different characters, coming from two different eras, with an extreme different background like coming from each end of the pole, but both of them have given such a deep influence (even traumatic scars) to this city that keeps people to remind them, either in positive or negative way, it’s about a city to remember.
As the commencement of my revisit since my arrival on a chilly morning, the best spot to me is needlessly the most glamorous boulevard in the heart of the Munich city center – Maximilianstraße, not only it’s one of the most famous shopping street with all the luxurious boutiques and hotel along the both side of this boulevard, it is also the boulevard that brought me to this city at the very beginning in my first visit. One can always find a couple of historic places nearby that area, including the former royal palace - Münchner Residenz, where King Ludwig II was given birth there, and, the spectacular Bayerische Staatsoper, where the big classical music concert and performance takes place, and the historic Theatinekirche, a beautiful church that built during late 17th century in high Baroque style that become one of a well-known symbol for the city.
Just right outside the Theatinekirche, only a few steps away on the Residenzstraße, the glorious and peaceful street has a hidden darkness of the past, starting from the Feldherrnhalle, the monument that originally built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria for honoring his army dated back in 1841, it then eventually turn into a commemorating place for the NZ after the brief battle of the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, dated back then during the NZ ruling period, whoever passes the Feldherrnhalle, one has to do the NZ salute to the SS guards there. Power is one of the thing that the Third Reich like to display all the time, inherently, this has been one of the rally ground for the NZ troops to match along the Residenzstraße to Ludwigstraße dated back the Third Reich era. For those who wants to avoid rendering a NZ salute while passing the Residenzstraße to the other street, Theatinerstraße, which right on the other side of the Feldherrnhalle, people will take a ‘short cut’ by walking through the alley called Viscardigasse, which also called ‘Drückebergergasse’ (translation as ‘Shirker’s Alley’) that interprets how the nickname of this street comes from. One can find the bronzed paving bricks art in a shape of a scar, to commemorate the bravery of the people of the past.
Take an Underground train from the Odeonzplatz station towards the northern bound with only one stop, it will take you to the academic neighborhood – the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, as one of the oldest University in Germany and the influenced by the Enlightenment at the end of 18th century, one of the most traumatic event was happened there, that needlessly to say, is the arrest of the members of the ‘White Rose’, a NZ resistance group formed by a group of young students who hands out pamphlets to the students and the people to reveal the notorious and barbarous truth about the regime dated back then, and call for resistance, sadly, the fate of the members were ended tragically, the key figures of the group were sentenced to death while the rest were under harsh and unjust punishment. A White Rose Memorial can be found inside the grand hall of the university, which dedicate to the founding members and the event with detailed history and photos of the artifacts for visitors to understand more about the dark and tragic past.
After looking something such heavy-hearted, why not try something with more joy and cultural? (or artistic?) Take a relaxing walk from the University along the Schellingstraße, then turn to the Theresienstraße on the left, which takes you to the museum district, the renowned Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek is the home of the most prestigious and finest art, from the ancient time such as Renaissance to Baroque, from French to Dutch paintings back in that period, Alte Pinakothek is a great place for you to indulge yourself in the world of ancient art. Don’t forget to appreciate the restoration work of this grand premises, which was heavily damaged during WWII before bringing back to the current state with the effort and work of the city government. While for Neue Pinakothek, that’s the museum that you can find the more recent artists work such as impressionism to Jugendstil, or the most famous ‘Sunflowers’ by Vincent von Gogh, you can simply find them there.
It seems like there’s a lot to take in, but no worries, I am wrapping up the Part I in here, in Part II, I am going to share with you more about the other interesting spots in this beautiful Bavarian city, stay tune.