Munich See And Do
Munich's third Pinakothek, the Pinakothek der Moderne, opened in September 2002. It's the little sister to the Old Pinakothek, which houses 14th- to 18th-century European painting, including Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Leonardo da Vinci (49-89-238-05216; www.pinakothek.de/alte-pinakothek; closed Mondays), and the New Pinakothek, which has 18th- to 19th-century European painting and sculpture, including English landscapes, French Impressionists, Biedermeier, and Art Nouveau (49-89-238-05195; www.pinakothek.de/neue-pinakothek; closed Tuesdays). Then there's the Glyptothek (49-89-286-100; www.antike-am-koenigsplatz.mwn.de/glyptothek; closed Mondays) and the Staatliche Antikensammlung for the ancients, such as Greek and Roman sculpture (49-89-599-888-30; www.antike-am-koenigsplatz.mwn.de/antikensammlung; closed Mondays), plus the major visiting exhibitions in the recently reconstructed Kunsthalle der Hypo Kulturstiftung (49-89-224-412; www.hypo-kunsthalle.de), and the contemporary and avant-garde in the Aktionsforum Praterinsel (49-89-212-3830; www.praterinsel.org) and at the Lothringer 13 (49-89-448-6961; www.lothringer-dreizehn.com; closed Mondays). The major science and technology museum, the Deutsches Museum, celebrated its centenary in 2003 by opening the first stage of its Transport Museum extension—a collection ranging from the first car to the latest ICE Experimental (49-89-217-91; www.deutsches-museum.de/en), located in historc halls on the Theresienhöhe. Right off the imperially huge and empty Königsplatz is the intimate yellow Italianate villa that houses Lenbachhaus, a small but important collection of 19th- and 20th-century as well as contemporary art. The main focus is on paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and photographs by his partner, Gabriele Münter, though temporary and permanent additions include Paul Klee and recent work by Gerhard Richter and the German photographer of the moment, Thomas Demand (49-89-233-320-00; www.lenbachhaus.de; closed Mondays). These are just a few of the city's 46 museums. There are also 56 theaters, including the ornate Staatsoper, the State Opera House, one of the classic sights—because however modern Munich becomes, we still want to witness the history (49-89-218-501; www.bayerische.staatsoper.de).
The unavoidable Oktoberfest was invented in 1810 to celebrate the nuptials of Crown Prince Ludwig (later Ludwig I) and Therese von Saxe-Hildburghausen. It occurs every year for 16 days from the second-to-last Saturday in September till the first Sunday in October—a huge fair with rides and stalls and sideshows, carousels and cotton candy and just a little beer, dispensed from marquees erected by the Munich breweries, of which there are now a mere six major players: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrä, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten-Franziskaner (49-89-233-965-00; www.oktoberfest.de/en). Even if you miss Oktoberfest, you still have to do the beer thing here. This is easily accomplished in any number of beer gardens, but best achieved at the 1589 Hofbräuhaus at the Platzl in the Old Town's heart (9 Platzl; Altstadt; 49-89-290-136-0; www.hofbraeuhaus.de). Because beer does remain in the old town's heart.
Tel: 49 89 382 233 07
BMW's headquarters are a formidable part of the Munich skyline—its four cylindrical towers suggest a car engine. The factory below is a car freak's heaven, and the two-and-a-half-hour tour (register online) takes visitors right onto the plant floor. Sparks literally fly as you shuffle past the forklifts and robots in your safety goggles and blue factory coats. The factory itself is a spotless, climate-controlled complex visually dominated by automated assembly lines and insectoid robots that do most of the actual work. The ballet of these alien-looking machines as they weld a door panel is pure industrial poetry. And if you'd like to take a 3-series BMW home with you (other models are made elsewhere), the factory can arrange a little discount.
The Altes Rathaus (old town hall) that anchors the central square, Marienplatz, was reconstructed after World War II to appear just as it looked in the 15th century (49-89-294-001); the 1488 Frauenkirche (cathedral) was also rebuilt to its old plan (1 Frauenplatz; 49-89-290-082-0). Just outside the city center, and of more recent vintage, is Olympiapark, site of the 1972 games—tragically, forever associated with the Israeli team massacre.
Tel: 49 89 306 100 41
A beloved tradition: Every October about 80 museums, collections, galleries, art societies, and churches coordinate programs of tours, concerts, and performances and stay open all night. Munich's public transportation system provides shuttle buses to all events at ten-minute intervals.
Tel: 49 89 290 671
The seat of the Wittelsbach dynasty, Bavaria's ruling clan for 500 years, the Residenz was begun in 1385 and grew by fits and starts over the next several centuries. One courtyard, the Königsbauhof, juxtaposes three architectural styles on its three facades—Italian Renaissance, stern imperial Prussian, and Baroque each testify to shifting eras of construction and taste. The Renaissance facade looking onto Max-Joseph Platz gives no clue to the riches within: This huge complex, and its adjoining State Treasury with the crown jewels et al, could easily swallow whole days. Highly recommended are the Grottenhof, an early Baroque folly of a grotto featuring classical statuary and a fountain of Neptune encrusted in mussel and clam shells, and the gorgeous Antiquarium, a long, frescoed hall of Roman statuary that features buttressed ceilings and a hauntingly perfect sense of proportion and light. Much of the complex was destroyed in World War II and painstakingly restored subsequently at staggering expense, but trompe-l'oeil facades in some courtyards betray the budget limitations of rebuilding. Nonetheless, an over-the-top must-see.
Tel: 49 89 238 053 60
The third Pinakothek, a $170 million building exhibiting contemporary art, opened in fall 2002, bringing together pieces formerly scattered throughout the city. There are sections on art, design, architecture, and graphic art, including works by Picasso, Magritte, and Max Beckmann.
Tel: 49 89 179 080
The summer palace of Elector Ferdinand Maria and his consort, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, is a huge semicircle in an extended classical park on Munich's western edge. The gardens and buildings are restrained rather than Romantic, but the interior is another story, starting with the entrance hall, which feels like a wedding cake turned inside out, full of white marble, pastels and vivid frescoes on the four-story-high ceiling. Besides the usual gaspingly huge rooms with their silk wallpaper and priceless furniture, one particular highlight is King Ludwig I's Schönheitsgalerie, a portrait gallery that captures the many women in his life. The garden extends west into the suburbs and is full of fountains and the usual royal accoutrements.
The original farmers' market, this has been the city's culinary center and more for around 200 years. More than just a market, it's the village green of this big city, as close to its heart as its beer—which can be drunk in the local beer garden.