Nymphenburg Palace with its grand park ranks among the top sights of Munich. What many people do not know is that very close to the palace complex more sights can be visited, such as the Botanischer Garten (Munich Botanical Gardens) and the Museum Mensch und Natur (Museum of Man and Nature).
Nymphenburg Palace, August 25, 1845: Shortly after midnight the yearned-for cry is heard. The successor to the throne is born: Otto Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig. To the present day everybody knows him as King Ludwig II, his fairytale castles and his tragic destiny. The birth room of Ludwig II is clad in green silk and ranks among the highlights of the rooms that are open for visitors in the palace where the head of the Wittelsbach dynasty still resides today.
The origin of the palace is as romantic as its name: Nymphenburg. For years the marriage of Elector Ferdinand Maria was childless until a son was finally born. Out of gratitude he commissioned the building of the castle before Munich gates for his wife Adelaide of Savoy in 1664. The most famous architects, sculptors, stucco plasterers and painters were involved in its realization.
The originally Baroque building was repeatedly modified in the Rococo and Classicist styles. The most renowned rooms include, in addition to the birth room of Ludwig II, the Stone Hall which extends over three levels and the Gallery of Beauties of King Ludwig I. Here visitors can, among other paintings, admire the likeness of his legendary mistress Lola Montez.
In order to get an overall impression of the palace it is best approached from the east: Two tree-lined lanes surround the Nymphenburg Canal. The crescent in front of the main building, which when built was considered an architectural sensation, and the fountain result in an impressive synthesis of the arts. In the light of the evening sun, when even the mist of the fountain shimmers golden, the view of the palace is particularly enchanting.
In order to get an overall impression of the palace it is best approached from the east: Two tree-lined lanes surround the Nymphenburg Canal.
Walking down the outside staircase to the French style gardens even visitors clad in t-shirts and blue jeans feel like royalty. After sauntering through the precisely geometrical grounds you can enjoy getting lost in the adjoining English landscape park.
With its brooks, canals, cascades, bridges, lakes, statues and park palaces it resembles an enchanted forest. Those who still have not had enough of romanticism can top off the experience with a gondola ride on the middle canal of the palace park as was customary during the time of the electors.
The Nymphenburg palace park was open to the public as early as 1792. In 1972 the Olympic contests in dressage riding took place here in front of a truly royal backdrop. Sports activities can still be observed here, especially in winter, when the frozen canal provides an arena for curling enthusiasts and when iceskaters turn their circles on the frozen park lakes.
The abundance of colorful blossoms in Munich’s Botanical Gardens is fabulous. Especially during the flowering of the roses the fragrant scent wafting through the gardens is beguiling. The humming of insects and the twittering of birds fill the air while frogs and toads frolic among water lilies in the ponds. Wandering through this green paradise is a genuine trip around the world.
The abundance of colorful blossoms in Munich’s Botanical Gardens is fabulous. Especially during the flowering of the roses the fragrant scent wafting through the gardens is beguiling.
Taking sufficient time is certainly worthwhile: The Botanical Gardens encompass more than 52 acres and present about 14,000 different plant species. Palm trees, orchids, cacti and colorful butterflies in the greenhouses treat visitors to some summer feeling even during the cold winter months.
A Botanical Garden has existed in Munich since 1812. Initially it was located between Stachus and the main train station. Today this park bears the name “Old Botanical Garden”. As space became rare in the city center the new Botanical Gardens were established in Nymphenburg in 1914.
This venue is a source of pleasure not only for those wanting to enjoy the great green, but it is also an eminent place of study for gardeners and horticulturalists. Regular guided tours, readings, lectures and special exhibitions provide detailed and surprising knowledge about the world of plants. The Botanical Gardens nestle up to the northern flank of the Nymphenburg Palace Park. The two are connected by an unassuming back entrance.
In 2006 the brown bear Bruno, alias JJ1, captivated the attention of Bavarians for severalweeks. At the Museum Mensch und Natur a special exhibition room has been dedicated to him. “The Study of Nature as Experience” is the museum’s motto. Original exhibits from microscopically small to impressively large, lifelike reproductions and numerous interactive stations offer thrilling insight into the history of our earth and its life forms as well as into the nature of humans as part of their environment.
In 2006 the brown bear Bruno, alias JJ1, captivated the attention of Bavarians for several weeks. At the Museum Mensch und Natur a special exhibition room has been dedicated to him.
Children show incredible endurance when visiting this museum: They listen to the stories told by the original bird archaeopteryx; they experience the functioning of the brain; they learn why the dinosaurs have vanished and guess which animal is the fastest. In a sensual and playful manner they explore the secrets of nature.
The offer of the museum is supplemented by regular special exhibitions and a broad range of educational programs. A separate room is available for those who wish to fortify themselves after the visit, where – in the good tradition of Munich beer gardens – guests can bring and enjoy their own snacks.
There also is a museum café featuring a pretty courtyard. In the background you can hear the quacking of the ducks from the Palace Park.
Marstallmuseum: Splendid coaches, horse carriages and saddlery from the time of the Bavarian electors and kings. Three hundred years of princely coach building documents the Marstallmuseum. www.schloss-nymphenburg.de
Museum Nymphenburg Porcelain: Over 1,000 exhibits 200 years of history of the world-renowned Porzellanmanufaktur Nymphenburg. Particularly noteworthy are the Comedia dell’ arte figures by Franz Anton Bustelli. www.schloss-nymphenburg.de
Erwin-von-Kreibig Museum: Works of the Schwabing artist (1904-1961) and changing exhibitions of well-known regional artists. www.kreibig-museum.com