Lion-quadriga on top of the Siegestor in Munich photographed from above with a drone.

Munich’s architectural milestones

From the Cathedral to the Allianz Arena

An architectural history which spans 850 years. Munich boasts a long-standing culture of building, dating from the time of its foundation during the Middle Ages to the present-day planning of the city’s metropolitan area.

Royal seat, business centre, cultural metropolis and magnet for urban tourists: Munich has many attributes, and its prominent architecture produces the perfect setting for each. And the city has never shied away from comparison either – its palaces, churches, boulevards and monuments have always been on the same footing as those of Dresden, Rome, Paris and Berlin.

Humility was the last thing on Jörg von Halsbach’s mind when, in the late Middle Ages, he built the Frauenkirche, the silhouette of which continues to define the city to this day. The two towers, with their unmistakable bulbous domes, are a unique blend of Late Gothic and Renaissance styles. Friedrich Sustris was similarly ambitious in designing Michaelskirche Jesuit church in the emerging Baroque style.

The building was used as a model for numerous new constructions and was also drawn upon by Leo von Klenzes and Friedrich von Gärtner, to inspire their façade designs which transformed the royal seat into “Athens on the Isar” during the 19th century.

Humility was the last thing on Jörg von Halsbach’s mind when, in the late Middle Ages, he built the Frauenkirche, the silhouette of which continues to define the city to this day.

King Ludwig I used architecture to create a new, glittering stage for the monarchy. The museums he commissioned in the style of Greek temples and Florentine palaces; the Siegestor (Victory Gate); and the tall, proud bronze statue of Bavaria were all intended to make the status of the monarch absolutely clear. So in the 19th century, the architecture of the city primarily served the monarchy.

Video: A bird's eye view of Munich

Eventually, when Munich became a metropolis, modernist styles started to creep in during the period before the First World War: the mighty structures, double city walls and fortress of the past were supplanted by a broad ring road with ample room for traffic. Expansive new promenades were created for the economically buoyant bourgeoisie, along with gigantic cafés and beer halls, numerous wide bridges over the Isar, the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) and elegant residential palaces. The Brienner district and Maximilianstraße have since exerted their magnetic influence on locals and visitors alike.

However, the most striking monument to be built was the Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall) on Marienplatz, which was finished after 40 years of construction and has since been considered one of the true emblems of Munich – alongside the towers of the Frauenkirche – not least because of its world-famous Glockenspiel.

The Stachus, as Munich locals like to call Karlsplatz, also contains a wealth of impressive testaments to its architectural history, which seem to invite critical comparison: the magnificently decorated Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) dating from the Gründerzeit (the economic boom in Germany and Austria during the 19th century, prior to the stock market crash in 1873), the still-operational shopping centre built after the war, now a listed building, and the spectacular, audacious architecture of the new “Königshof” hotel.

But will Munich continue to keep up with international rivals with its contemporary architecture or is it too timid and provincial? Well, just a few years ago, architects Herzog and DeMeuron and Murphy&Jahn produced prominent, widely acclaimed architectural icons in the form of the Allianz Arena and the Highlight Towers respectively. The new University of Television and Film building enjoys universal admiration, and the transparent walls of the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Neuhausen has even set new international standards for church architecture.

But how does the future look, and how should Munich be shaped to respond to its enormous growth? What form should the construction of modern apartments take during an era when living space is being so compressed? Tours through the Kunstareal art district, famed for its three large Pinakothek museums, shed light on this possible future response, and visits to construction sites at the new Münchner Konzertsaal (Munich Concert Hall) and to the creative quarter highlight the exciting developments that are currently underway.

Modern architecture city walk

During a walk through Munich’s city centre with an official city tour guide you will be inspired by imposing architecture. Read more

From the viewing platform of the Olympic Tower, visitors can not only admire the still-spectacular glass roof structure of the 1972 Olympic park, but they can also enjoy a broader view over the current expansion and development of the city. The early stages of construction on the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and second S-Bahn train tunnel offer insights into Munich’s architectural path into the 21st century.

 

 

Text: Georg Reichlmayr, Photos: Redline Enterprises, Jörg Lutz

Covid-19: current regulations

Hotels and accommodation establishments, shops, indoor and outdoor catering, and also clubs and discos are open. However, restrictions apply. All other important information on the coronavirus and your stay in Munich can be found here.

A woman in a coat and an artist with a paint bucket smile into the camera in Munich.

A stroll through the Werksviertel with Loomit

Our author meets Munich personalities on a walk. This time: street art artis Loomit shows us around his Werksviertel-Mitte.

Our author meets Munich personalities on a walk. This time: street art artis Loomit shows us around his Werksviertel-Mitte.

View into the interior of the baroque Asam church.

The Asam brothers and their sacred chamber

The Asamkirche is the masterpiece of the Asam brothers. In Munich, however, it is not only the church that reminds us of their work. A tour.

The Asamkirche is the masterpiece of the Asam brothers. In Munich, however, it is not only the church that reminds us of their work. A tour.

A church window in the Salvatorkirche in Munich

The most beautiful windows of the city

Michael Mayer of Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt presents the most spectacular church windows.

Fascinating people for centuries: Michael Mayer of Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt presents the most spectacular church windows the city has to offer.

The monument to Max I. Joseph in front of the Residenz

Four kings and a prince regent

In Munich there are fantastic monuments to admire. Where they are and what makes them so special.

In Munich there are several fantastic monuments to admire. Where they are and what makes them so special: an overview.

The tour guide Alvestad-Aschenbrenner stands in the Museum for Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke Munich

When Munich became an „Athens on the Isar“

Ludwig I of Bavaria converted Munich into his "„Athens on the Isar“, many buildings still remind us of this today. An interview.

Ludwig I of Bavaria converted Munich into his "„Athens on the Isar“, many buildings still remind us of this today. An interview with a tour guide.

Young woman sitting at a window in a tram in Munich.

A vacation in my own city

Our author used to be a travel blogger. Now she has started to explore her own city: Munich!

Our author used to be a travel blogger. Now she has started to explore her own city: Munich!

Glockenspiel in the Neues Rathaus in Munich.

The Glockenspiel in ten pictures

An exclusive look behind the scenes.

The Glockenspiel on Marienplatz has been enchanting visitors and locals for over 100 years. An exclusive look behind the scenes.

Panoramic view of Karlsplatz / Stachus in Munich with the Frauenkirche in the background photographed from the air.

Classical and curiosities

Numerous Munich stories can be told along the roughly one-kilometer-long route between Karlsplatz-Stachus and Marienplatz square. A city walk.

Numerous interesting Munich stories can be told along the roughly one-kilometer-long route between Karlsplatz-Stachus and Marienplatz square. A city walk.

Weissenburger Platz in Munich photographed from above with a drone.

A village in the city

Haidhausen and Au have developed from working-class quarters into popular residential areas.

When strolling along the narrow streets of the districts Haidhausen and Au with small shops and green courtyards, it almost feels like being in a village in the middle of the city.

The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in autumn.

From artists and writers

Around 1900, it was the artists and writers who settled around the university and the art academy and shaped the spirit of Schwabing.

In the heyday of the Schwabinger Bohème around 1900, it was the artists and writers who settled around the university and the art academy and shaped the spirit of Schwabing.

Flowerbed at Gärtnerplatz in Munich.

Where the night begins

Independent labels, hip bars, pubs and cool inns attract the young and the young-at-heart.

The Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbach neighbourhoods are known as trendy quarters. Their independent labels, hip bars, pubs, cool inns and calm backyards attract the young and the young-at-heart.

Munich Card & City Pass

Discover Munich in a relaxed and uncomplicated way: discounts for the diverse range of art, culture and leisure activities with our guest cards.

Public transport is included

Many discounts with the Card, many things for free with the Pass.

Online or at the tourist information offices

Small meeting room of the Neues Rathaus in Munich

Exclusive tour through the town hall

Explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Book now from 18 €

Magistrates, Monachia and magnificent celebrations: explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Stage and audience of the Passionsspiel in Oberammergau.

The game of suffering, death and resurrection

The inhabitants of Oberammergau staging probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

The inhabitants of Oberammergau have staged what is today probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

Merchant with dried fruit on the Viktualienmarkt in Munich.

Viktualienmarkt Tasting Tour

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Book now for 32 €!

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting historical facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Panoramic view of the Neues Rathaus in Munich with the Frauenkirche in the background.

Visit to the Town Hall Balcony

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.

Book now for only 6 €!

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.