Between hipster and historical: on Feilitzschstrasse you can breakfast at a deli like you’re in New York, and then be seated in a chic Schwabing restaurant before visiting the oldest farm in the neighbourhood or a real castle.
The name Altschwabing conjures up images of ornate old building facades, bumpy cobblestones and the wonderfully green Englischer Garten. The ‘Alt’ part, meaning ‘old’, suggests a certain cosiness – so it’s not that easy to imagine that this is where the wildest parties were celebrated in the 60s and 70s. Because if you sit down on Feilitzschstrasse today and watch Schwabing locals at their favourite pastimes, you get the sense that nightlife is not a thing round here any more: early in the morning residents are happily ordering iced cappuccino, making important phone calls, or jogging around the Kleinhesseloher See lake.
The street proves that old and new can function fantastically well side-by-side – the cool sneaker store and the historic farm, a small neoclassical castle and a trendy New York-style deli.
Feilitzschstrasse is a fascinating starting point from which to get acquainted with Altschwabing for a number of reasons: not only does it lead from Münchner Freiheit, one of the neighbourhood’s most important transport hubs, to the Englischer Garten, one of the world’s largest parks; it also proves that old and new can function fantastically well side-by-side – the cool sneaker store and the historic farm, a small neoclassical castle and a trendy New York-style deli.
Occam Deli is actually modelled on New York’s Lower Eastside delis. This café on Feilitzschstrasse opened in 2002, and the concept has remained the same ever since. You can get breakfast, lunch and dinner here, as well as reliably excellent coffee and a wide selection of cakes for bridging a gap. As you’d expect in a deli, you can also buy a small selection of groceries on-site, including granola, jams, olive oil, spices and the shop’s self-made wine – manager Raffaele is particularly proud of the latter, as he is a trained sommelier.
“There’s a high density of pubs around Occam Deli, but the mood is still always peaceful – I like that about this corner!”
“All kinds of people come together here – we’ve got so many regulars and they span all ages,” he tells us. A glance at the terrace confirms this, as we can see a posh Schwabing mum sitting next to an ageing hippie. Which is typical for Altschwabing? Raffele has to laugh: “There’s a lot of old stock, both of houses and people.” But Feilitzschstrasse gets younger in the evenings once people start meeting up on Wedekindplatz for an after-work beer. “There’s a high density of pubs around Occam Deli, but the mood is still always peaceful – I like that about this corner!” Raffaele tells us.
Wedekindplatz used to be the Altschwabing village square, and it has retained something of its village character. Today it’s an important meeting place, about as popular as Gärtnerplatz is. One thing that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is the crooked lantern erected in memory of the cult pub Bei Gisela. The pub was opened by the Munich chanson singer known as ‘Schwabinger Gisela’ in 1952, at Occamstrasse 8, and the Vereinsheim clubhouse is located there today. The ‘Schwabing Lantern’ is just one of many places on Feilitzschstrasse that tells stories of another time.
It drew particular attention a year later when a World War II aerial bomb, which could have exploded at any time, was found under the pub. Afterwards people joked that it meant the parties just weren’t wild enough.
Schwabinger 7, which also opened in the 1950s, is no less steeped in history. For many years, ‘Schwasi’, as Munich locals call it, was one of the last alternative pubs in this chic neighbourhood. In 2011, the cult pub at number 7 had to relocate to 15 Feilitzschstrasse following much protest against its closure. It drew particular attention a year later when a World War II aerial bomb, which could have exploded at any time, was found under the pub. Afterwards people joked that it meant the parties just weren’t wild enough.
The Drugstore, a hippie bar from the 60s, also gained international renown, with previous guests including none other than Mick Jagger and Romy Schneider. The discotheque on the top floor later became a drag theatre, and today it houses the Heppel & Ettlich cabaret stage. If you’re more interested in high culture than hippie cult, you will find just as much to entertain you on Feilitzschstrasse – most notably in front of number 32: Thomas Mann lived and wrote Buddenbrooks here between 1899 and 1902, and the editorial office of satirical weekly magazine Simplicissimus was in the same building. From 1908 to 1919, Paul Klee had his studio a little further on at number 3.
The artist was even allowed to work for three months in Werneckschlössl. Schloss Suresnes (Suresnes Castle) is located on the corner of Werneckstrasse – which is how it got the nickname Werneckschlössl (Werneck Castle). It was built between 1715 and 1718 and covers an area of around a hectare. Unfortunately it is not open to visitors, but even just a look at the French garden is worth a trip. A few steps further on stands the oldest agricultural building in Schwabing: the Viereckhof. This was erected in the 13th century and has been renovated time and time again over the centuries. Today the seminar rooms of the Catholic Academy of Bavaria are found here.
This street in Altschwabing may not be very long, but it contains 18 listed buildings. Some of the historic residential buildings have been standing since the 18th century, but more and more new buildings are being added.
Feilitzschstrasse has some fascinating architectural features. This street in Altschwabing may not be very long, but it contains 18 listed buildings. Some of the historic residential buildings have been standing since the 18th century, but more and more new buildings are being added. The closer you get to the Englischer Garten, the more village-like it becomes: the concrete street gives way to cobblestones, Butterbrot bakery celebrates its 20th anniversary, and Schwabing’s former village church St. Sylvester welcomes its congregation. As a side note, this is one of the oldest church sites in Munich, and a church building on this exact spot was mentioned in a document back in 782.
In one of the beautiful period buildings in the back section of Feilitzschstrasse there is, a little hidden away, the store run by traditional Munich company halfs – one of the last addresses where shoes are still sewn using traditional methods, instead of being glued. On the shelves, hiking boots and traditional dress shoes stand alongside leisure footwear such as ankle boots and Chelsea boots. Jan, who is working in the shop today, tells us: “We have a lot of customers who come to us from the surrounding regions and all over the world, because the number of traditional shoemakers is only reducing.”
Jan likes that Feilitzschstrasse is still very cosy, despite Schwabing being established as a loved and lively district decades ago.
If Jan doesn’t take his lunch break at Türkitch, ordering a halloumi durum wrap, you’ll find him in Butterbrot next door: “It’s been an institution on the street for 20 years – it’s a real piece of Schwabing. A small, smart cafe where people of all ages can meet to enjoy coffee and cake.” He likes that Feilitzschstrasse is still very cosy, despite Schwabing being established as a loved and lively district decades ago: “Our building belongs to the church, for example, and one man has been living here his whole life. That doesn’t happen so often!”