The Bahnhofsviertel (main station district) is often affectionately referred to as ‘Little Istanbul’ by Munich locals – but on it’s main street Landwehrstrasse you’ll find more than just Turkish supermarkets and Middle Eastern barbershops. It’s a mini trip around the world, from Croatian snack bars to French photography stores!
It’s no accident that the streets around Munich’s main train station have evolved into a multicultural neighbourhood: it started in the late 1970s, when many guest workers arrived from abroad by train. A lot has changed since then, and today we can say with all confidence that there’s nothing you can’t find here. People of every nationality, as well as all faiths and none are at home in Bahnhofsviertel.
Absolute opposites coexist peacefully here. For instance, the Deutsches Theater is located opposite a strip bar, and the Turkish driving school stands next to an advertising agency. Landwehrstrasse is part of the neighbourhood that Munich locals affectionately call Little Istanbul, but it’s more like a little world trip – from Croatia to Afghanistan, and from France to Asia.
You can hear a different language spoken behind every shop door. More than half the residents in Bahnhofsviertel are first-, second- or third-generation migrants. At the same time, it’s a really typical Munich street, because it still has some very traditional specialist shops and of course, it’s also the route from the main station to Oktoberfest.
How should we get talking with the people in Landwehrstrasse? The easiest place is actually at the hairdresser’s. So we walk into the nearest barbershop, where our photographer gets a haircut. Over some Arabic tea I get to know Yahia, a young man who has only been working in Munich for six months, commuting to the Bavarian capital from his home in Landshut every day. That’s another great thing about Bahnhofsviertel – because he’s in the heart of the city, it takes him less than an hour to get to work.
The 22-year-old tells me: “My dad also cut hair for a living – he had a salon in Syria. Then our family had to flee the country, so I came to Germany five years ago.” Yahia has many regulars at Mister Cutts, some of whom speak German with him – and this of course helps to improve his language skills, he tells us. Landwehrstrasse is almost empty today, despite the good weather. Yahia explains to us that today is the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha, which is why there’s so little going on.
Landwehrstrasse is almost empty today, despite the good weather. Yahia explains to us that today is the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha, which is why there’s so little going on.
He feels at home on Landwehrstrasse, especially on Muslim days of celebration such as these, when comparatively few people are out and about: “Although I wouldn’t want to live here, the location is very good and central for work.” Yahia appreciates the wide range of options the street offers, whether for shopping or dining out: “You can get everything here – there are two good restaurants opposite, and one of them even does Syrian food!”
Fernando runs the Auf die Faust food blog and knows a lot about food. He has lived on Landwehrstrasse for three years, and has now tried almost every snack bar and supermarket there. His favourite shops are the many smaller stores offering exotic foodstuffs that you can’t get everywhere – such as plantains. Fernando has Mexican roots and can get genuinely excited by any and all world cuisines.
Food blogger Fernando has lived on Landwehrstrasse for three years, and has now tried almost every snack bar and supermarket there.
We walk with him to the Verdi supermarket, where he goes shopping almost every day. He tells us that he’s fascinated by the large corner display of vegetables, and he adores the fantastic doner kebabs they offer here: “For me this is the city’s best kebab, because it’s the most honest. One thing even many Munich locals don’t know is that in the Verdi rear courtyard, fruits and vegetables are sold by the case at low prices.” Perfect for anyone who wants a whole kilo of cherries at no notice.
Fernando has a few more culinary insider tips for us too: Afghan restaurant Hindukush sells fantastic lavash bread for just 40 cents – perfect if you’re planning a Middle Eastern snack at home. “Also, all my Croatian friends rave about Sarajevo-Imbiss, which probably has the best cevapcici you’ll find. Sara Grill is also great, especially its popular lamb and veal skewers.” Unfortunately, we’re still far too full of kebab to stop by there right at this moment.
Not just because it’s a great place to eat and shop, but also because Landwehrstrasse connects the smart Westend neighbourhood with the city centre – a great starting point for getting anywhere quickly by bike.
Fernando enthuses: “Being on Landwehrstrasse is like a little holiday for me as a Munich local, because you hear hardly any German.” He feels on top of the world in Bahnhofsviertel and is so happy to have found an apartment right here. Not just because it’s a great place to eat and shop, but also because Landwehrstrasse connects the smart Westend neighbourhood with the city centre – a great starting point for getting anywhere quickly by bike. Fernando is an Art Director and always carries his camera when walking on Landwehrstrasse – there’s just so much to discover and observe.
It’s not just the culinary scene that’s colourful; there’s plenty of diversity beyond that as well. Right at the start of Landwehrstrasse, Frenchman Gerard Wiener has been repairing old cameras in his shop (at number 12) for decades. He has every lens and spare part imaginable there – but the bigger wonder is that the octogenarian can find every one of them, because his shop is a real cornucopia. French radio plays in the background; in Wiener’s camera shop, you don’t just feel like you’re in a different country, but also a different time.
If the camera store is closed when you get there – which happens relatively often because Gerard lives by French-style flexible lunch breaks – you can marvel at the beautiful lamps in the window of Werner & Söhne next door. The store offers antique models such as the Florentine lamp, though unique lampshades and other creations can also be made in the in-house workshop at customers’ request. It’s a true Munich family business that has now been around for over 50 years.
It is a huge compliment that the company chose Landwehrstrasse in Munich, which, though not known for its magnificent buildings, is wonderfully diverse.
In contrast, the new Aparthotel Schwan Locke opened just a few weeks ago, and features impressive interior design and a rather youthful concept. Each of the spacious apartments has its own kitchen and a balcony overlooking the courtyard. There’s also a co-working lounge, upscale bar and a café. Locke is an English hotel brand, and this is its first place on the European mainland – what a huge compliment that the company chose Landwehrstrasse in Munich, which, though not known for its magnificent buildings, is wonderfully diverse.