Giesing may be famous for soccer and beer, but what the locals value most is the neighbourhood’s lively diversity of architecture, culture, and people. Read more about a district that still retains a village feel.
If Munich locals are talking about Giesing, they are referring to the two districts of Obergiesing (Upper Giesing) and Untergiesing (Lower Giesing). As the name suggests, Obergiesing is located up the Giesinger Berg hill, while Untergiesing extends downhill as far as the river meadows of the Isar. People tend to still think of Giesing as a single area, but it was actually divided into two official boroughs back in 1936, with the creation of urban districts 17 and 18, respectively Obergiesing-Fasangarten and Untergiesing-Harlaching.
Unofficially though, it’s all part of the same neighbourhood – with the possible exception of Harlaching, a prosperous area of smart villas, nestled between the green Perlacher Forst and the quieter part of the Isar river south of the popular Flaucher riverbank area. Giesing has been known as a genuine working class area since it was established, and as such it is naturally keen to distinguish itself from those more well-to-do streets.
On Saturdays when the 1860 Munich football team is playing, people head for the Grünwalder Stadium with season tickets in hand, stopping for a drink in a long-established Boazn (pub) beforehand. Post-match celebrations take place on bustling Tegernseer Landstraße – though to be honest, fans of the team also known as TSV 1860 don’t have so much cause for celebration these days. Even so, Giesing is an honest and down-to-earth district that has remained true to itself.
In Giesing you will find historic, low-built “Herbergshäuschen” hostel houses and charming pubs, as well as a village feel that still survives even to this day.
Giesing has existed through several centuries – and it has retained something from every era. There are the Herbergshäuschen, quaint former boarding houses that once accommodated those day labourers who travelled to Munich for construction projects such as the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), as they started doing in medieval times. Then you can see the McGraw Kaserne former army base, where American soldiers were stationed after the Second World War. And of course there are the charming pubs from the 1980s, which still look just the same as they did back then.
The earliest records of the area date from 790, when Obergiesing was first recorded as “Kyesinga”, making the settlement almost 400 years older than Munich itself. Untergiesing, on the other hand, only came into being in the 19th and 20th centuries, when labourers and day labourers – who had initially settled in the area around the Heilig-Kreuz (Holy Cross) Church – spread further and further south, populating the lower part of the district. Giesing has retained its village charm to this day, for example in the area known as the Feldmüllersiedlung on Oberer Grasstraße, the quaint little former boarding houses known as Herbergshäuschen along the Auer Mühlbach river and in and around Sommerstraße, a charming old-fashioned street in the area.
Stadelheim Prison was built at the end of the 19th century, not far from Giesing train station, and became infamous in particular for the executions that took place there during the Nazi era. It is also where members of the White Rose resistance movement were imprisoned; their graves can still be visited at the cemetery in Perlacher Forst in Obergiesing today. Other inmates of the penitentiary include Adolf Hitler and Beate Zschäpe.
The earliest records of the area date from 790, when Obergiesing was first recorded as “Kyesinga”, making the settlement almost 400 years older than Munich itself.
The McGraw Kaserne former army base dates from the same period, however it has more positive memories associated with it: this is where US soldiers settled after the Second World War, bringing a piece of America to Munich. Before long a shopping centre, bowling alleys and a university sprang up nearby. Munich locals also worked and celebrated at the base – in fact, they even hosted a “Little Oktoberfest” for the Americans.
If you grew up in Giesing, the chances are you come from a long line of loyal 1860 fans. The stadium on Grünwalder Straße has been there since 1925 – before that the “Sechzger” (Sixties), as the team is also known, trained in the Flaucher park and on the Theresienwiese (Oktoberfest fairground). Destroyed in the war, the stadium was later rebuilt, and 1937 it was sold to the city because the club was experiencing financial difficulties. Until the opening of Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium) in 1972, it was the most important sports venue in Munich; even today Grünwalder Stadium is the third-largest football stadium in the city.
Football in Giesing is not confined to the stadium, however: there are certain pubs that you should only enter if you are a “Blauer” (i.e. a fan of 1860). Because even though FC Bayern Munich also trains and is based in the district, that famous football team is far from beloved here. Giesing is true blue in this sense, as is clear whenever the Sechzger are playing – sometimes you’ll even see a blue fog overhead. If you would like to learn more about the history of this Munich football club, the “Auf den Spuren der Löwen in Giesing” (On the trail of the Lions in Giesing) walking tour of the district is well worth a look.
Equally closely connected with the district as football is beer – and the pubs that serve it. Giesing is well-known for the high number of Boazn (small local pubs) that survive here, though some greats such as the Bierschänke Bauerngirgl and the Pils-Hahn have closed down in recent years. Boazn are a special element of Munich’s pub culture, with the word meaning a dated but very comfortable pub mainly populated by regulars and often run by quirky owners.
Nowadays there is new blood on the scene too, as younger operators join the mission to keep Boazn culture alive, opening up cool venues like Altgiesing, Bumsvoll and Riffraff.
Some especially well-known examples in the district that are still going strong include the Giasinga Schlümpfe and Die Kleine Kneipe. Nowadays there is new blood on the scene too, as younger operators join the mission to keep Boazn culture alive, opening up cool venues like Altgiesing, Bumsvoll and Riffraff. If you would like to find out more, you should check out one of the “Munich Boazn” books by pub expert Maximilian Bildhauer or watch the film “Hinter Milchglas und Gardinen” (Behind Frosted Glass and Curtains) by Johannes Boos.
Ever since the Giesinger Bräu brewery opened, the district has also been renowned well beyond its own boundaries for its beer. It all began in 2006 in Untergiesing – in a garage, obviously. From those roots, you can now visit the brewery’s own pub in Obergiesing, and not only enjoy a freshly tapped beer but also indulge in some fantastic food. The small brewery has a logo which features the Heilig-Kreuz church, and has now also expanded into the north of Munich and even hosted its own tent at Oktoberfest.
The thing Giesing residents really value about their district is its variety – whether it be in the architecture, the residents or the pubs. And there’s no better place to experience this variety than on Tegernseer Landstraße, the main street also affectionately dubbed “TeLa”. Here, you can indulge in wonderful cuisine at the Michelin-starred Gabelspiel restaurant and then head to the casual beer garden in the Giesinger Grünspitz park to enjoy a beer until late. Gianluca, at the Ambar Bistro, brings a little piece of Naples to the area with his meatballs and homemade limoncello. Or you could try some authentic Vietnamese banh mi and pho in Bep Ho opposite, run by restaurateur Hieu.
On Tegernseer Landstraße you can find several Boazn and organic food supermarkets, as well as a chic wine store beside the old launderette. The street is authentic, has developed naturally and changes continually.
You can experience a city-centre buzz on this busy street, surrounded by the noise of the trams and the constant blaring of sirens, or equally take a peaceful walk around the Ostfriedhof cemetery. You can enjoy a Leberkässemmel (meatloaf sandwich) at the cosy Café Schau Ma Moi or treat yourself to an ice cream at the Riviera ice cream parlour, which is over 40 years old. On Tegernseer Landstraße you can find several Boazn and organic food supermarkets, as well as a chic wine store beside the old launderette. The street is authentic, has developed naturally and changes continually. You can get lost in the anonymity of the city here – then, as soon as you turn onto the narrow Kiesstraße or Gietlstraße, feel like you’re suddenly in a village.
To indulge daydreams of faraway lands, we recommend sitting on the Schmederersteg pedestrian bridge to watch the trains heading for Italy, or paying a visit to the Eastern-styled Templar monastery building beside the Auer Mühlbach. Although there are no museums in Giesing, you can go and see some amazing street art at the Candidplatz bridge any time – and for free! The entire neighbourhood comes together every year to celebrate its Ois Giasing district festival, which aims to create a space for subculture.
It’s not just excellent international cuisine and a city feel that makes this district special – it also boasts expansive green, natural spaces. Over 25 percent of the entire area of Untergiesing-Harlaching is green space, and a further five hectares is occupied by lakes and other bodies of water: that makes Untergiesing one of the districts with the highest proportions of recreational space in Munich. It is no wonder then, that anyone who walks or jogs from the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) to the Auer Mühlbach and the Isar river meadows feels as though they are miles from the city – even though the Marienplatz main square is within easy walking distance.
Obergiesing also has much to offer when it comes to recreation. Though overlooked by many, the 30-hectare Ostfriedhof is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the city, with pretty avenues and some truly opulent graves, including Rudolph Moshammer’s mausoleum. Giesinger residents also like to hang out in the Crönlein bar-café in the Kronepark – a former public toilet that now serves spritzers and pizza and hosts mini-concerts. There’s also always something to do at the Giesinger Grünspitz park, thanks to its café kiosk and outdoor yoga sessions. Munich residents can even rent raised beds from Green City e.V. here, for planting with whatever flowers, fruit or vegetables they like.
Have you become curious? In our format "Out and about with..." our author walks through Obergiesing with the writer Nina Sahm, who not only shares her tips, but also tells what she likes most about the surroundings.