One is much like all the others, right? No way! Munich's districts couldn't be more different. Take our test to find out which district beats your heart the most and then learn how Munich went from a medieval market town to a multifaceted city of millions.
Welcome! The neighbourhoods of Munich present an array of contrasts, ready for you to experience. The home of proud “Münchners” is full of countless wonders: from the Opera to Olympiapark (Olympic Park), graffiti to Greece, the university to UFOs, BMW to Baroque splendour, kings to carousels, and Pinakotheks to Pumuckl. This is where you can find the “reds” supporting Bayern Munich, as well as the Blue Rider – better known as Der Blaue Reiter, a renowned historic group of expressionist artists. So – to translate the title of Munich-filmed comedy “Zur Sache Schätzchen” – let’s go, baby!
Something that puzzles us: Who but a super-strong Pippi Longstocking could have manoeuvred the old steamboat onto the bridge in the Schlachthofviertel? A stroll through the city located on the Isar river quickly dispels the stereotype of Munich as a rather staid village of a million people. In Bahnhofsviertel you’ll find cafés that are so Middle Eastern; Haidhausen has streets that feel so Parisian; while in Munich’s Westend neighbourhood you can head to Westpark and wonder at the temples which are so east Asian. No one would blame you if you were to also find yourself wondering if it can all really be part of one and the same city.
How can you decide? With our district self-test you can easily find out, even if with a wink, which district suits you particularly well.
Have fun on your very own adventure in Munich's neighbourhoods!
A lot of water flowed down the Isar before Munich became the liveable and lovable cultural and pleasure metropolis we know today.
Munich started out as a little oval of a place: the walled medieval market square measured just 17 hectares. To give you a sense of scale, today Munich’s Olympiapark (Olympic Park) is exactly five times that size. First recorded as “Munichen” in 1158, the settlement grew into a burgeoning trading centre under its founder, Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe) of the Welf dynasty. In fact, it was so successful that it soon outgrew its boundaries, and the city was extended just 100 years after its founding.
The Wittelsbach dukes added a second defensive wall to the town during the 13th century, thereby creating significantly more space for their future royal seat. That original little oval grew into what we now know as Altstadt (Old Town) – a big, fortified, mushroom-shaped neighbourhood. There would once have been many gates to the city, of which three of survive splendidly today: Sendlinger Tor, Karlstor and Isartor. In the Middle Ages the city was separated into four parts – and even now we refer to districts as Stadtviertel, which simply translates as “city quarters”. You’ll find that the word “Viertel” is much more commonly used about neighbourhoods in Munich than in cities that were never divided into literal quarters.
It used to be the case that the gates in the city walls were closed every night; however, by the end of the 18th century residents were complaining that this custom made them feel trapped rather than safe. So from 1791, the fortifications started to be dismantled and the ditches filled in. It was not long before new suburbs sprang up around the historic city centre, most notably Maxvorstadt (with multiple world-renowned museums in its Kunstareal area), followed a little later by the neighbourhood around Gärtnerplatz, which was one of the first construction projects in the Isarvorstadt district.
The Wittelsbach family were enthusiastic art lovers and builders. Architectural ensembles dating from the time of King Ludwig I (1786 – 1868) are defining characteristics of the cityscape to this day, including the royal avenue of Ludwigstrasse; neoclassical Königsplatz where the Glyptothek art gallery is; and the impressive buildings of the Pinakothek galleries.
Next came the incorporation of nearby places which were much older than Munich – some of them already with town status, such as Au and Schwabing. By 1900 all these places had been incorporated, and they still retain their original names as city neighbourhoods today: Haidhausen and Au were followed by Giesing, Sendling, Neuhausen and Schwabing, and finally Bogenhausen, Nymphenburg and Thalkirchen.
Extremely diverse settlements and municipalities were thrown together to form one large whole: farmsteads, former seats of nobility and Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace), but also urban municipalities such as Au, with its working class suburb of Haidhausen. The individual character of each neighbourhood is still tangible today, and each city quarter is a world of its own.