A setting like nowhere else in the world: the opera house, the Residenz palace and theatre, the magnificent palace that used to house the city’s main post office and a row of traditional middle-class houses frame the square at Max-Joseph-Platz.
From the centre of the square, King Max I. Joseph, the first king of Bavaria, looks out from his memorial – note that he is sitting down, an unusual position for a royal statue built in this period. Back then, rulers preferred their subjects to see them on horseback or at least standing up, which is why Max I. Joseph rejected the first draft of the statue by court architect Leo von Klenze in 1824, which showed the king sitting on a throne.
However, Klenze’s second sketch of a standing figure was never cast in ore as the first king of Bavaria died in October 1825. His son, Ludwig I., then commissioned the original – seated – draft to be built. In Munich, rumour has it that this move was Ludwig’s way of posthumously getting one up on his father, whose policies were often a sticking point between the two.
However, you can also put a more generous spin on the story: the memorial was originally commissioned by the city of Munich itself in order to honour the king for passing the first constitution of Bavaria in 1818. Depicting the king as a commander on horseback therefore would not have been suitable.
As a result, he now holds the sceptre of Bavaria in his left hand, reflecting his role as Pater patriae, while his right hand reaches out to bless Munich and the state of Bavaria.