Each autumn, rivers of Bavarian Weissbier (wheat beer) flow in Munich’s old Hofbräuhaus and beer gardens to satisfy millions of Oktoberfest revelers. But there’s much more to Munich than dirndls and accordions. After World War II, the city chose to restore, rather than replace, its historic center. After decades of hard work and dedication, the old town is a glorious step back in time. Because of a statute that limits building height, the twin copper domes of the Frauenkirche and the spires of the Neues Rathaus (new city hall) and Kirche Sankt Peter (Munich’s oldest church) are still the tallest structures around the Marienplatz and Karlsplatz, the active main squares.
Munich traces its history back to the Middle Ages. Marienplatz square is the city center and you really can't miss it, between landmarks like New City Hall and the Marian Column. A train station is below the square, and all the city fans out from this central point. There's also a beautiful park in the city center called, rather confusingly, English Garden. The modern art museum Neue Pinakothek is one of Munich's most highly reputed cultural attractions. For cool, funky art and culture, check out the area between Luisenstrasse and Tuerkenstrasse.Oktoberfest is Munich's most famous season of the year, though contrary to popular belief, it takes place almost completely in September. Throngs of people go from tent to tent celebrating. To put things in perspective, a single tent might hold 100,000 people. The Christmas Market is a much calmer but also festive annual occasion, featuring lots of mulled wine and apfelstrudel.
Munich is the gateway to the Alps and the capital of Bavaria. It's surrounded by great natural beauty. American novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote: "How can one speak of Munich but to say that it is a kind of German heaven!"
Munich (pop. 1.2 million) is perhaps best known for its Oktoberfest, a 16-day celebration of the city's renowned brewing industry, but the town is also notable as the site of auto-manufacturer BMW, which has a museum at its headquarters.
Originally the site of a Benedictine monastery (Munchen in German is "home of the monks"), Munich is in southeastern Germany near the Austrian border. It was the capital of the kingdom of Bavaria and became a cultural center in the 19th century. Churches are among its premier attractions, headed by Frauenkirche, which was completed in 1488 and has two onion-dome towers. Peterskirche is Munich's oldest church, and Michaelskirche contains the burial vault of the Wittesbachs, Bavaria's former ruling dynasty.
Other cultural highlights are the National Theater, home of the Bavarian State Opera; Nymphenburg Castle, a 17th century palace that houses the Munich Botanical Gardens; and Alte Pinakothek, a museum with paintings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, El Greco and others.