1972 the Olympic Games where held in Munich. the Stadium one of the modern achievments of german architecture.
Frei Otto came up with a strong tent constration, steelframe, plastic roofs, for the Expo in Montreal 1967 which had instant success. the Munich Games seen even a better and stronger construction. take the elevater to the Olympia Tower from up there you have an awesome view over the whole of the city as well
In the Summer of 1972 Munich hosted "The Happy Games", an Olympics intended to showcase a new peaceful, democratic Germany. The Germans built for the games a huge park, and filled it with some of the best architecture of the decade. The buildings were all bold, clean and forward looking, just like the new Germany was supposed to be. The park with its tranquil waters is a beautiful place to wander around, and the Olympic Tower, Stadium and Village, and all the other buildings, offer some amazing views to photograph. You will also find here the fascinating BMW museum.
With such grand facilities and stadiums so close to the city center you can bet they put on a lot of sports and music events, and you can find out more about those at the website below.
The Munich Olympics of 1972 were intended by the German hosts to be a festival of peace, expressing just how far West Germany had come since the militaristic evils of World War 2. The West Germans were keen to show to the world just how much West Germany was a reformed country, with no militaristic intentions or abilities. They succeeded in proving this, completely and thoroughly, but not in the way that they had intended.
On September 5th at 4.30am a group of Palestinians broke into the Olympic Village. They succeeded in this because the security was deliberately low-key. The West Germans had not wanted the world to see gun wielding German security guards marching around on the world's television screens. Once inside they entered the accommodation of the Israeli athletes at 31 Connollystrasse, killing two and capturing nine. A tragedy began to unfold in front of the entire world, and the German authorities could do little more than look on, uselessly and impotently.
The drama escalated, with the Palestinians demanding the release of over 200 prisoners in Israel, which the Israeli government refused to concede and the Palestinians threatening to kill their hostages if their conditions were not met. The Palestinians had no idea what to do if the Israeli government failed to capitulate. The West Germans, extremely uncomfortable that the hostages were Jewish, offered the kidnappers limitless money to release the athletes, but they refused.
My colleagues did the roof climb while we were on a company trip to Munich. I didn't join them because I am scared of heights but just followed them from down the stadium with my camera.
The whole tour takes approx 2 hours. There's a film first and you get your safety gear (which seems a bit too much to me considering it's not that dangerous to climb the roof). Then you climb around the whole roof with many breaks and a short detour to one of the peaks of the roof. Watching it was a bit boring after a while as the whole tour on the roof took over an hour and they were waiting for a longer time than they were actually walking around.
The tour costs €25 on weekdays, € 30 on weekends and public holidays.
From this year (2005) you also have another option: There's an Abseiling Tour available now as well. You can abseil yourself 40 mtrs into the stadium at the end of this tour. This tour costs 40 Euro.
At nearly 300m the Olympic Tower soars above the relatively flat Munich skyline, and can be seen clearly for miles around. It offers stunning views whatever the weather and time of day, and the day I went up I was particularly lucky with the combination. After a fine sunny day, I went up to the top of the tower on the world's fastest lift, and stepped out just in time to catch a thick bank of fog sail over the city just as sunset arrived. There I stood, above the clouds, watching the city be engulfed in a beautiful mist, as the sun cast a golden glow over everything. If only my camera was good enough to capture the essence.
The tower is open until midnight, and it costs 3 euros for adults to ascend to the top. Up in the heavens you will also find a very expensive restaurant - somewhere you'll want to go more for the views than the food.
The Olympic Village of 1972 isn't a beauty but it's worth a look when you visit the Olympic park and stadium. There's small bungalows which used to be the accommodation for the female athletes. They are painted very colourfully by the athletes themselves. Behind them there's the huge buildings which accommodated the male sportsmen.
The sight of them in my mind is connected with thinking of one of the worst events in sports ever. On September 5th 1972 two sportsmen from Israel were killed here by terrorists. Nine were taken hostage in their appartment for several days before they were killed at the airport of Fürstenfeldbruck when the police tried to liberate them.
The Olympic Stadium was built following the same ideas as the park around it. The fantastic glass roof symbolises the lightness and the frankness of the games, the green seats stand for the nature.
As the major local teams, FC Bayern München and 1860 München, play their matches in the new Allianz Arena now the stadium is only used for events such as concerts. You can go and visit the stadium for just € 1.50.
There's several tours you can book, too. There's one where you can go into the cabins and onto the pitch and there's the roof climb I will tell you more about in my next tip.
The Olympic Park in Munich's north was built for the Olympic Games 1972. The architects and organisers wanted Games "in the green" with short distances. They created a fantastic park with many sports halls, green hills and some great pieces of architecture.
The whole design for the park is very light, the planners wanted to distance themselves from the concrete games of 1936. Hence there's gravel paths, glass roofs and a lot of nature dominating the park.
Although not on everyone's tourist map, the Olympic Village is a very interesting area of Munich to wander around. Apart from the links to the events of the Munich Massacre, the architecture and views on display are usually good and sometimes stunning. There's a particularly wonderful part between Connollystrasse and the main park where the temporary huts of the athletes have been turned into permanent homes for students. While they look a bit pokey and scruffy, the inhabitants have turned them into a vibrant and colourful display with paintings, signs, flowers and creepers. The setting right under the Olympic Tower would be hard to improve upon.
Ah... the Olympic Stadium. This was a bit of a pilgrimage for me. The famous stadium was already a footballing mecca for once being the home to one of Europe's best teams, Bayern München, but it was also the host of a number of major internationals, World Cup games, Olympic and European Finals. The Munich teams have since moved on to greater things at the new Allianz Arena, built in time for next year's world cup, but before they did the stadium bore witness to one of the most amazing performances of any team ever.
Now I'm not one to boast about the English team, but this game was special. Beating the Germans is special for any English fan, but to win in Germany is something else altogether, especially in the manner that we did. England went into the game having lost to the Germans at home, at Wembley stadium. It was the last game England were to play at this famous stadium, which was host to England's only World Cup victory, the 4-2 beating of Germany in 1966. It was meant to be a big party, but as usual the Germans spoiled it by winning.
England were now second in the group, and needed to beat Germany, in Germany, to win it and qualify for World Cup 2002. It seemed an impossible task. When England went down 1-0 early in the first half, most English people resigned themselves to defeat. Then, just before half time, Gerrard equalised with a stunning long range strike. After the break England scored, and score again and again and again. Unbelievably the final score was England 5 Germany 1.
For the English this was fantasy land. For the Germans it was a bitter pill. Even now the mere mention of "funf - eins" with an English accent is enough to put the sourest expression on any German's face. I was left to wander around this amazing stadium with its gigantic spiderweb roof (biggest stadium roof the world) singing to myself "England 5 Germany 1". What a feeling.
To get a nice view of Munich, the Olympic park as well as the mountains you should go up the 291 metre high Olympiaturm. We went up on a sunny and snowy day and the views were wonderful. A bit hazy though so we couldn't really see the mountains.
There's a revolving restaurant at a height of 181 metres. There also is a viewing platform outside as well as inside. Unfortunately when we were there the outside platform was closed due to ice on the antennas. It would have been even better to take pictures from there I guess.
Inside the top of the tower you also find the rock museum but it didn't look very exciting to me.
Entrance fee is EUR 4 (winter 2005/2006)
Eventually the Palestinians negotiated an escape, taking the hostages to a nearby airfield where the West Germans proved their incompetence by bungling an attempted rescue that resulted in each and every Israeli athlete dying, probably at the hands of the gunmen. The incompetence was so shocking the West Germans even managed to mistake their own people for kidnappers, shooting one dead in the process.
A fantastic documentary, narrated by Michael Douglas, is available on the subject, one that avoids the easy political condemnations and accusations to present a tragic story from an ultimately human perspective. In addition Steven Spielberg has a movie due out this year (2005) called Munich, which follows the events after the tragedy, focussing on the Mossad agent who tracked down and killed those responsible for the killings, the ones the West Germans released in suspicious circumstances a month later.
If you want to pay your respects to the dead, there is a plaque at 31 Connollystr. I believe the IOC refused to build a permanent memorial.