Munich’s combination of culture, history and hearty food makes it well worth a visit, writes Robert Anderson.
The Bavarian city of Munich has long held an allure with travellers the world over for its unique taste of German culture and tradition.
But while the focus of many visitors may be the Oktoberfest celebrations, there are also plenty of reasons to visit outside of September and October, regardless of your leanings or interests.
A good place to start any visit is the city’s central square, known as the Marienplatz, where on top of taking in some quite breath-taking neo-gothic architecture you can also enjoy a lesson in history.
The square itself is named after a column erected at its centre in 1638 to mark the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years’ War and it still stands to this day. Surrounding it are some of Munich’s most iconic structures including the old city hall Altes Rathaus on the East side and the towering new city hall Neues Rathaus on the northern side.
If you’re lucky enough to visit from November 27 to December 24 it is also host to the famous Christmas Market. Expect advent music and dozens of craft stalls offering Christmas decorations and traditional seasonal treats like chestnuts, gingerbread, stollen and handmade plum-almond figures known as Zwetschgenmandl. All towered over by a delightful German Christmas tree with roughly 2,500 candles.
Outside of this seasonal attraction, tourists flock to the square for another reason, the world famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel, which was added to the new town hall as part of a second construction phase in the early 20th century.
Each day the 32 life-size characters that are part of the mechanism tell stories from Munich’s history including the marriage of Duke Wilhelm the fifth to Renata of Lorraine and the cooper’s dance, which according to myth was performed on the streets in 1517 to symbolise perseverance during a plague. The 12-minute show starts at 11am and 12pm each day and draws crowds from far and wide.
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