The Summer Olympic Games were held in Munich in 1972, and even now, 50 years later, there’s still plenty to experience in Olympiapark (Olympic Park): wonderful architecture, events and a huge selection of sports and leisure activities and gastronomy. What’s more, the “Spirit of 1972” can still be felt elsewhere in Munich too. 10 tips.
The 190-metre-tall Olympiaturm offers an outstanding view that includes Olympiapark’s pavilion roof silhouette and extends far beyond the city all the way to the Alps. After drinking that in, you can indulge in some upscale gastronomy at the 181 rotating restaurant or simply enjoy an organic speciality coffee a floor above it, at the Blue Sky Coffee & Photo coffee bar. The establishment also hosts a popular barista course for anyone interested in the craft of making coffee. The tower is set to be the venue for a host of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Olympics.
Olympiaturm, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7
The Olympic Zeltdachtour is an exhilarating way to explore the history and present day of Munich’s Olympiapark, as you get to literally climb onto the iconic tented roof of the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium). Roped to a guide, you have the rare chance to examine up-close the striking roof structure made up of acrylic panels, steel cables and pylons, as you walk parallel to the edge of the roof. Your guide will entertain and inform you, recounting everything worth knowing about the history of Olympiapark and what makes it special today. And in case you still haven’t got your adrenaline fix, you can finish the tour by speeding across the sports arena on the Flying Fox zip line, or alternatively abseiling down 40 metres to the stadium below.
Olympiapark (Olympic Park), Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21
A rickshaw tour, either solo or for two, is a great way to discover the architectural and design highlights of Olympiapark. Your knowledgeable guide will give fascinating explanations of everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the City of Munich’s application to host the Olympic Games, the creation of the park, its sports facilities and the special atmosphere during the Games. The rickshaw guides draw from considerable personal experience and are well acquainted with everything the Olympiapark has to offer – there’s plenty! Information on rickshaw tours will be available here in the near future.
Olympiapark (Olympic Park), Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21
Olympia-Alm is the highest beer garden in the city, and makes the perfect reward after ascending Olympiaberg (Olympic Mountain) – the highest point in Olympiapark. This open-air eatery actually emerged after the Olympic Games had finished, developing gradually from a small kiosk serving construction workers on the Olympic site. The establishment serves traditional Bavarian beer garden specialities and is a great spot from which to catch the sound of international stars performing at the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium) – for free!
Olympia-Alm, Martin-Luther-King-Weg 8
When Munich hosted the Summer Olympic Games of the XX Olympiad in 1972, the city’s concept for a sports quarter in a green area with short distances between venues and no cars proved a roaring success. The Olympic Village was constructed within walking distance of the complex to accommodate athletes competing in the Games. The apartments of the former men’s village and press centre tower like mountain peaks behind the colourful apartments of the “Olydorf”, as the village is known. It was intended to be an oasis of peace but also a place for lively interaction between nations. This group of listed buildings is a real hidden gem for architecture enthusiasts. To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Games, the city is planning to offer a Hood Love tour through the Olympic Village.
Olympic Village, Connollystraße
The “Einschnitt” (“incisions”) memorial is a pavilion housing a multimedia display that commemorates the twelve victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre and outlines the contemporary historic background to the incident. The memorial space was opened in 2017, on the 45th anniversary of the day when the hostages were taken. The opening ceremony was attended by representatives and heads of state from Israel and Germany, and the memorial has since been a permanent fixture within the Olympiapark complex.
1972 Olympic attack memorial, Kolemainenweg 11
In 1952, Russian hermit Timofey Vasilyevich Prokhorov, also known as Väterchen Timofei (Little Father Timofey) was apparently instructed by the Mother of God to move to Munich and build a chapel on the rubble left behind after the Second World War. Once dubbed the “most charming illegal building in Munich” by former Lord Mayor Christian Ude, this whimsical place of worship is still standing to this day, thanks to public protests preventing its demolition in 1968, as part of the city’s Olympic construction plans. The museum, chapel and garden are now managed by a foundation. Tours are available on request. The Tollwood Festival takes place every summer in the grounds around the Ost-West-Friedenskirche.
Ost-West-Friedenskirche, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 100
One of the biggest urban development advances that Munich owes to the Olympic Games is the construction of the U-Bahn underground and S-Bahn urban rail systems. The line between Kieferngarten and Goetheplatz opened in October 1971, and was followed by the rail link between Münchner Freiheit and the Olympiazentrum (Olympic Centre) one year later. Munich’s underground rail network today consists of more than 100 kilometres of track, serving some 96 stations all over the city. Those stations which were designed by internationally renowned light designer Ingo Maurer are well worth making a special trip to see: Münchner Freiheit (U3/ U6), Westfriedhof (U1) and Moosfeld (U2), Marienplatz (U3/ U6) and Sendlinger Tor (U1/ U2/ U7/ U8) stations.
The pedestrianised area of the city not only offers ample shopping opportunities, but also various rest stops along the way with terrace seating areas. Munich’s Altstadt (Old Town) is the most popular destination for guests from all over the world. Its must-see attractions include Marienplatz, the Glockenspiel mechanical clock in the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), the Frauenkirche (cathedral) and Karlstor gate. Michaelskirche church, on the kilometre-long stretch of the pedestrianised zone between Karlsplatz-Stachus and Marienplatz, is also well worth a visit as the burial place of Ludwig II, the Fairytale King. Where once there were salt traders and merchants hustling, Munich’s central shopping mile is now frequented by hordes of shoppers. Munich’s pedestrianised zone, opened in the Olympic year of 1972, was one of the first car-free promenades in Germany.
At the München 72 café and bar in Glockenbachviertel you’ll see Waldi, the little colourfully striped mascot, a hostess uniform consisting of a light-blue dirndl, and to-go cups bearing the image of gold medallist swimmer Marc Spitz, as the cafe’s owner has brought his collection of memorabilia from the ‘72 Games into the dining rooms in a very original way. In summer there’s a Schanigarten (outdoor terrace) with retro parasols and garden furniture, while in colder weather guests can catch up with friends indoors, over fondue. At the weekend, visitors can order from a range of substantial and lighter breakfasts bearing sporty names such as Ringer-Frühstück (wrestler’s breakfast), Turner-Frühstück (gymnast’s breakfast) or Radler-Frühstück (cyclist’s breakfast).
München 72, Holzstraße 17