Although we could take the train and avoid the cold it was nice to walk from Marienplatz to Karlsplatz. It’s an almost straight 900 meters long pedestrian route which gets packed by locals and visitors day and night. There are numerous stores for those who want to go shopping but you can also find some important attractions on the way (St. Michaelskirche is the most important but also the cathedral on a side street) if you get bored while your other half gets excited with the shining Malls :)
In early December it was so busy that I wondered what happens during Christmas period. There were also some streets artists around but I felt sorry for some musicians that had to stand still in the cold for so long.
We started from Marienplatz where you can see the Old Town Hall (which houses a small Toy Museum) and the impressive New Town Hall which is popular among tourists for the clock with the figures that go round daily at 11.00, 12.00, 17.00. Marienplatz was a market square from the Middle Ages. In front of the New Town Hall is Mariensaule, a high column with a gilded statue of Virgin Mary that was erected in 1638 to commemorate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and named the square. Marienplatz was the main market square since 1158 when people gathered here to shop but also to watch several medieval tournaments or executions…
Walking through the pedestrian zone we ended up at Karlsplatz just outside Karlstor Gate (pic 5) one of the 4 main gates of the medieval city wall. Karlsplatz is named after Charles Theodore (1724-1799) a prince Elector and Duke of Bavaria but the square is also known as Stachus, after the owner of a pub that was located here during 18th century!
If you visit Munich during summer you will see a big fountain but in December we saw a huge open-air ice rink with hundreds of people screaming out of joy! :) We didn’t try that but we took advantage of the several wooden cabins where we had hot wine and sausages :)
At the west side of the square you can see Justizpalast (palace of Justice) that was built in 1897 in neo-baroque style while the New Justizpalast was constructed next to it in 1905 in neo-gothic style.
That weekend FC Bayern Munich was playing against Borussia Dortmund so it was interesting to see fans of both sides walking around, drinking beers and singing, something like this isn’t possible in southern Europe of course, sooner or later the singing will be fighting.
This walking street features lots of pedestrians and occasional "special" religious groups from far off. The paved areas run from the underground at Karlsplatz through Neubauer and Kaufinger Strassen with another Metro stop at the Marienplatz and onward via the Tal. It is faced by department stores (like Hirmer featuring wearing apparel), shops of all sorts, cafeterias and ancient brauhausen, restaurants and even churches, one of which on the north side has been converted to a Jagd und Fischerei Museum with a bronze replica of a boar out front. Incidentally if you find this animal on your menu try it). It is safe to wander here at night.(See Second Tip). Many of the features of the street have their own descriptions by us and others.
Munich is a very large city (pop 1.5M). Whether just out for the night air or returning from a brauhaus or restaurant, it seems that Munich is a very safe city. The walking street is varyingly active late into the late hours; some of these pictures were taken on Christmas Eve, the quietest night of the year at this site.
Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauserstrasse are the two names for the very broad tree-lined thoroughfare connecting Marienplatz and Karlsplatz forming the central axis of Munich. We were astounded by the incredible throngs pulsing up and down these pedestrianized (since 1972) avenues at all hours. Lined by individual stores frequently clothing, department stores, cafes, restaurants and businesses, this district is jammed largely it appeared to us with local people and not tourists ( except at Marienplatz ). Street performers of all sorts, food kiosks, and the occasional water feature attract large crowds of all ages.
MARIENPLATZ - this large square dates from the Middle Ages when it served as a market place and a site of tournaments and executions. It was originally called Schrannen or grain place but also served as a market for salt, fish, and wine. The new name is variously attributed to prayers to the Virgin to protect the city from an epidemic and/or after the large column erected to celebrate the withdrawal of Swedish armies in 1638. The Old and New City Hall buildings front on Marienplatz. Tourists and locals crowd this large square - one of the most crowded we have seen in Europe.
KARLSPLATZ - several blocks away at the western end of the promenade is this square named after HR Elector Karl Theodor and laid out in 1791. An alternative name is Stachus, used locally in memory of a local bar owner and/or a nickname for the arrows used in medieval archery contests. Just outside the Karlstor gate is a large modern fountain which is a gathering place for residents particularly in the late afternoon and early evening when it receives direct sunlight.
The opening headline comes from a TV ad that was once famous in Australia as an expat Pom used to spruik goods for a discount store on the idiot box. I thought it entirely appropriate for this tip, seeing as this is where you are most likely to end up if you plan to lighten your purse or wallet while in Munich.
Munich’s pedestrian zone (Fussgaengerzone) is one of the largest in Europe and contributes vastly towards making the Old City a pleasant and safe place to stroll in. Most of the famous historic sites as well as many elegant shops are inside the pedestrian zone.
Less than a ten minutes stroll from the Hauptbahnhof is the busy Stachus intersection and the pedestrian zone traditionally starts from the Karlstor, a medieval city wall gate that dates from the 14th century. From here it is about a twenty minutes walk to the Marienplatz, if you can manage not to stop and look at the shop windows and several historic buildings en route.
Buergersaalkirche is a very unique two storey church in Munich's city centre. Downstairs there's a little chapel which is full of people. Here you will also find big sculptures showing the stations of the Cross. Upstairs there's an empty shiny large church which looks more like a ballroom than like a church. Around christmas you can see Baby Jesus here, to have a look at the doll seems to be a christmas tradition in Munich.
Walking in the pedestrian zone stretching eastwards from the train station, through Marienplatz on to the Isar river.
Along the street (whose name changes several times), you'll see dozens of restaurants, shops, churches. This is the place for a leisurely stroll, shopping, drinking a beer and relaxing.
Brunnenbuberl (boy at the fountain) is a really funny fountain close to Karlstor:
An old Satyr is spitting water on a young boy, while he is spraying water on the satyr.
This funny Art Nouveau fountain was made by Matthias Gasteiger in 1895.
Prinzregent Luitpold visited the artist and asked him to add at least a small leave of a figtree in order to hide the "most precious part" of the boy...
...BUT the artist refused !! Art was free in Bavaria of the 19th century...
Inside an old Augustinian church, that dates back to the 13th century you will see a modern museum today :
"Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum" (Museum for hunting and fishing)
Outside of the museum you will see a sculpture of a boar - similar to one in Florenz / Firenze - and people rub its nose in order to have a wish come true...
Opening times :
every monday and thursday untill 09.00p.m. !
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