Rose borders in the garden of Dachau Castle

Dachau

Where Emil Nolde learned to paint

The view from the gardens of Dachau Palace extends over and beyond Munich, which is just 20 kilometres away. On some special days, the vista is even crowned by an incredible panorama of the Alps. At the foot of the former summer residence of the Wittelsbach family, you will find Dachau’s picturesque Altstadt neighbourhood, with its brightly painted houses.

Dachau is closely linked with Munich not only geographically, but also in modern history. It was in Munich that Hitler began his ominous rise to power. Then, just a few weeks after he was elected Chancellor of the Reich, the Nazis built the first concentration camp in Dachau, for the purposes of persecuting and eliminating their political opponents. Most visitors make the journey to Dachau primarily to visit the concentration camp memorial site there.

What many of them do not realise is that the close connection between the two cities actually dates from much earlier. Very few people are aware of the important role Dachau had as one of the first artists’ colonies; much like Munich, Dachau was an art centre which made a major contribution to the development of modern art.

During the 19th century Dachau, like neighbouring metropolis Munich, flourished as an art centre. Many famous artists came to explore Dachau and the charming natural scenes in the area: Carl Spitzweg, Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, Ludwig Dill, Adolf Hölzel and Arthur Langhammer, to name but a few. In fact, it is only a few years since the discovery of a sketchbook that Emil Nolde used when he spent time in Dachau to attend Adolf Hölzel’s painting school, from March to October 1899.

So we can see that, more than 100 years ago, the city became one of the first artists’ colonies – alongside Worpswede and Barbizon. Today, Dachau is a member of the euroArt European Federation of Artists’ Colonies. Many interesting artists still come here to work, and the town is defined by exhibitions and studios.

Dachau is older than Munich. The earliest reference to it dates from 805, when it was named in a deed of gift to the bishopric of Freising. The town’s history is closely connected with the state capital of Munich by way of the former Bavarian sovereigns: Otto I of the Wittelsbach family inherited the earldom of Dachau in 1182. Because of its strategic location at a crossing of the trade roads between Munich, Augsburg and Freising, Dachau was also an important market.

The permanent exhibition in the Bezirksmuseum (district museum) opposite the Church of St. Jakob offers an insight into historic Dachau. Spanning some three storeys, the museum’s collection numbers over 2,000 items relating to the cultural history and folklore of Dachau and its environs. The art gallery located just beside the tourist information office is another extraordinary museum that is well worth a visit. The gallery is dedicated to showcasing works produced by the Dachau artists’ colony between 1870 and 1914.

It is impossible to write about Dachau without mentioning Bavarian poet Ludwig Thoma. He originally arrived as the city’s first lawyer, and was inspired to write by the people of Dachau. Thoma opened his law firm in 1894, in a building known as the Raufferhaus – which is still standing today. He also had a seat at the “Stammtisch” (regulars’ table) in the Zieglerbräu inn beside the town hall.

Here are his words explaining why he decided to settle in Dachau: “As we came up the hill, and the market square with its gabled houses lay before me in its evening tranquillity, I was overcome by a deep longing to live amid this stillness.” Although it is no longer quite as still as it was then, Dachau’s old town has lost none of its charm.

 

 

Text: München Tourismus; Photos: City of Dachau, Günter Standl
Neuschwanstein Castle in the surrounding region of Munich.

Hiking guide

Royal wanderlust

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Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof, Schachenhaus and Neuschwanstein: Bavaria’s castles and palaces are among the most beautiful in the world.

Landscape near Kochel am See

Franz Marc & Kochel

The home of ”Der Blaue Reiter“

Our author goes on a hike in search of the places where Franz Marc found his inspiration.

Our author goes on a hike in search of the places where Franz Marc found his inspiration – and finds a magical place.

Two hiker are on a mountain ridge near Munich.

For latecomer lovers of the mountains

After-work hiking

Getting out into nature quickly: no problem in Munich, even in the afternoon. Five hiking tours for late risers and after-work athletes.

Getting out into nature quickly: no problem in Munich, even in the afternoon. Five hiking tours for late risers and after-work athletes.

View of an alpine hut in front of a mountain panorama in Munich.

Munich's southern reaches

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Barren rocks, wild mountain forests – and a fairy-tale castle.     

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Two women with a bicycle on a pier by a lake in Bavaria.

Wasser-Radlwege Oberbayern

Bathe, banter, bike

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Whether „Hopfen and Bier-Schleife“, „Salz-Schleife“ or „Kunst- and Kulturschleife“, Munich is the hub for all routes of the water cycle paths.

Entrance of the Hündeleskopfhütte, the first vegetarian hut in the Alps near Munich.

Hiking guide: alpine huts

Alpine huts around Munich

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Kehlsteinhaus Berchtesgaden including a panoramic view of the valley in the surroundings of Munich.

Eagle's Nest

Hitler's tea room

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Nymphenburg Palace in Munich at sunset.

Royal Munich

Castles and palaces in and around Munich

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Two skiers skiing down in deep snow in front of a mountain panorama.

Ski touring

Under your own steam

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View from above of a snow-covered winter landscape with a monastery in the outskirts of Munich.

Winter walks in and around Munich: snow trekking

Into the snow!

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Munich Card & City Pass

Discover Munich in a relaxed and uncomplicated way: discounts for the diverse range of art, culture and leisure activities with our guest cards.

Public transport is included

Many discounts with the Card, many things for free with the Pass.

Online or at the tourist information offices

Lakes & Mountains
Boat trip at the Königssee with panoramic view of the Alps in the surroundings of Munich.

A boat ride to a natural paradise

Königssee

Emerald-green water at the foot of the legendary Watzmann.

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Lake Chiemsee with the Bavarian Alps in the background.

The Bavarian Sea

Chiemsee

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A man is standing on rocks at the shore of Eibsee nearby Garmisch in the surrounding region of Munich.

The highest mountain in Germany

Zugspitze

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Watzmann in the Berchtesgadener Land in the surrounding of Munich.

The mountain of destiny

Watzmann

The Watzmann has long fascinated mountain climbers from all over the world.

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Boats in Starnberger See in the Five Lake Region nearby Munich with the Alps in the background.

Recharge your batteries

Starnberger See

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The Tegernsee in the evening light with cloud reflection on the lake surface near Munich.

Like God in Bavaria

Tegernsee

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Evening atmosphere with sunset at Ammersee near Munich

From Utting to Herrsching

Ammersee

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Windsurfer on the Walchensee in the hinterland of Munich.

The Bavarian Caribbean

Walchensee

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Cathedral in Salzburg in winter

Salzburg and the Lake District

Visit the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and relax on the journey to beautiful Lake Wolfgang.

Book now from 64 €!

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