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Munich: Communicating Contrasts and Contradictions

September 1, 2003
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Communication is essential for finding your way around an unfamiliar city. Once that is done it is easy to concentrate on the nice things, like visiting the sights, attending cultural events or simply getting to know people in a pleasant atmosphere.


We at Rohde & Schwarz have been committed to making communication not only easier but also more reliable, and believe this to be the key to our success. Let's hope that we can also communicate the variety and depth that Munich has to offer to make your visit to European Microwave Week one to remember.

Munich has an international flair and a heart, pulsing with life and the typical gemütlichkeit, which really does exist off the tourist track. The city celebrates Bavarian lifestyle and acts as a magnet for the chic and the beautiful. It offers the best of both worlds: a big city and the backwoods, a metropolis and a village of over a million inhabitants, high tech innovation and traditional folklore - or, in culinary terms, sausage and nouvelle cuisine. The notoriously famous Oktoberfest is no exception - there the entire world comes together to raise a toast to gemütlichkeit.

Munich is the capital of the Free State of Bavaria and the third largest city in Germany. It has over 1.2 million inhabitants, is said to have the most multimillionaires, and features a variety of culture from opera and ballet to theatre and cabaret. With more than 100,000 university students, Munich is one of the largest academic centres in Germany.

This guide should help you discover the true Munich. So, put on your lederhosen, pack your dirndl and head down to the capital of Bavaria, where folk traditions rub shoulders with BMWs, haute cuisine and high minded sophisticates.

Orientation

The heart of Munich is bisected by the Isar River, flowing northwards from its source 60 km away in the Bavarian Alps. Most of the city's sights are clustered on the river's left bank. It is a 15-minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof to the Altstadt, the historic old centre - just head west through Karlsplatz (Stachus) and along the Kaufingerstrasse. It is difficult to get lost if you use the twin onion-domed towers of the Frauenkirche as a landmark. Marienplatz sits at the heart of the Altstadt, with the former royal palace to the north.

Southwest of the Hauptbahnhof there's gentrified Westend and the Oktoberfest grounds at Theresienwiese. The university is north of Marienplatz in Schwabing, bordered by the English Garden, Europe's largest park. Nymphenburg castle is around 10 km northwest of the centre, and Olympiapark is to the north. There's a pub and restaurant quarter east of Marienplatz, and plenty of window-shopping along Maximilianstrasse.

The best time to visit Munich is all year round. As a general rule, you can expect rain any time of year and there's also a chance of experiencing the föhn, a warm, dry wind that is blamed for everything from headaches to crankiness and lethargy. But when the föhn is blowing, you can also see the Alps in all their glory from the top of any building. One of the best views you will get is from the top of the Gothic St Peterskirche near Marienplatz.

Getting Around

Getting from museum A to beer hall Z is simple - either promenade with the Munich inhabitants along the central pedestrian zone from the Hauptbahnhof to Marienplatz or catch a ride on Munich's excellent public transport network (MVV). The system is zone-based, and most places of interest are within the inner city blue zone. Tickets come in short-trip, daily and weekly varieties, and are valid for the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, trams and buses; just stamp your ticket as you enter the station or hop aboard. You can buy tickets from bus and tram drivers, and from vending machines at stations, bus stops and newspaper kiosks. You may regret bringing your car to this parking inspector-filled city.

No matter what your mode of transport why not head toward the nearest beer garden or beer hall, or to one of the spots listed below. You'll then discover that with all the contrasts and contradictions, life can really be quite pleasant.

What to See and Do

Sites in Munich you should know about

A lot of places of interest are situated in the centre of town, and Munich's public transport system (MVV info phone 089-41 42 43 44) gets visitors easily through the city and is very fast, especially during exhibition times.

SIGHTS

Alter Hof (Old Court)

The first residence of the 'Wittelsbacher' is today used as the Finance Office. The gate tower dating from the 13th century and the gothic bay window from the 15th century still exist. Altenhofstrasse, U-Bahn/S-Bahn: Marienplatz

Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)

To the right of the new town hall you can see the smaller old town hall (built in 1345). Particularly impressive is the large hall dating from the 17th century, which is now used for official ceremonial purposes. Marienplatz, U-Bahn/S-Bahn: Marienplatz

Viktualienmarkt

Sustenance is needed after touring through Munich's host of museums, and where better to find it than at the Viktualienmarkt, one of Europe's greatest food markets. U-Bahn: Marienplatz

Englischer Garten (English Garden)

This is the biggest metropolitan park (921 acres) in Germany. The variable landscape with hills, the 'Eisbach' (river) and the 'Grosshesseloher See' (lake) provides a great place for relaxation. A walk up to 'Monopteros,' a classical round temple dating from 1837, is well worth the effort.

Feldherrenhalle (Hall of the Generals)

The last sight on the southern side of 'Ludwigstrasse,' this 20 m high, open-arched hall was modelled on the 'Loggia di Lanzi' in Florence to honour the Bavarian generals Tilly and Wrede. Odeonsplatz, U-Bahn: Odeonsplatz

Frauenkirche

Munich's most famous landmark, this late gothic brick building is impressive by virtue of its dimensions (109 m long and 40 m wide) and the lack of decoration. Frauenplatz, U-Bahn/S-Bahn: Marienplatz

Ludwigstrasse

This magnificent 1 km long street was built during the reign of King Ludwig the First. The street leads from the 'Feldherrenhalle' in the south to the 'Siegestor' (victory gate) in the north. Interrupting Ludwigstrasse is 'Ludwigkirche,' a church with widely separated towers. U-Bahn: Odeonsplatz, UniversitŠt

Maximiliansstrasse

Munich's luxury thoroughfare is lined by the city's finest shops and hotels. U-Bahn: Marienplatz, Lehel

Nymphenburg

Versailles served as the model for this former summer residence with its park and its castles of the Bavarian rulers. U-Bahn: Rotkreuzplatz, Tram: Nymphenburg

Olympiapark

The 'Olympiapark' was built in 1972, the same year Munich hosted the XX Olympic Games. The tent-like roof of the Olympic stadium is another famous landmark and the TV tower (290 m high) offers an unrivalled view of the city. U-Bahn: Olympiazentrum

Residenz

The 'Residenz,' home to Bavarian dukes, electors and later for kings, was built over the course of more than four centuries (16th to 19th). In the treasury chamber, you can admire crowns and jewels from ten centuries. U-Bahn: Odeonsplatz

MUSEUMS

Alter Pinakothek

One of the five biggest and most outstanding galleries in the world. Here you can see European paintings from the 14th to the 18th century. U-Bahn: Königsplatz

Neue Pinakothek

This museum, which was opened in 1981, contains works by European painters and sculptors from the late 18th and 19th centuries. U-Bahn: Königsplatz

Pinakothek der Moderne

Presenting plastic art, works on paper, architecture and design under one roof, this museum is home to one of the world's greatest collections of 20th and 21st century art. U-Bahn: Theresienstrasse

Deutsches Museum

The largest technical and natural science museum in the world. From mining to astrophysics, from the first automobile to air-traffic control, with the help of exciting experiments and demonstrations people, it illustrates how things work. S-Bahn: Isartor

BMW Museum

This museum is not only for lovers of luxury cars. The technical development of automobiles and the futuristic visions of this century are waiting to be discovered. U-Bahn: Olympiazentrum

RESTAURANTS - UPPER CLASS

Tantris

For years, the exclusive address (two stars) for gourmets. The menus change twice daily. The basic black and orange furnishing has achieved cult status. Johann-Fichte-Str. 7 Tel.: 089-36195916

Köfer Schönke

Here you can see creative modern delicacies prepared and the many side rooms are all first class. Prinzregentenstr. 73 Tel.: 089-416 82 47

Schuhbeck in den Südtiroler Stuben

In this castle-like atmosphere complete with stucco, woodwork, comfortable chairs and beautiful fabrics, master chef Alfons Schuhbeck serves seasonal Bavarian cuisine for gourmets. Platzl Tel.: 089-216 69 00

MIDDLE CLASS

Vinaiolo

The full charm of Italian hospitality. Steinstr. 42 Tel.: 089-48 95 03 56

Revolving Restaurant in the Olympic Tower

An extraordinary culinary excursion high above Munich. Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7 Tel.: 089-30 66 85-12

Rue des Halles

Perfect restaurant for the Francophile epicure. Steinstr. 18 Tel.: 089-48 56 75

Sushi Duke

The sushi masters here conjure up dishes to your individual taste and in the full spirit of Asian courtesy. Platzl 3 Tel.: 089-22 80 75 00

Joe Peñas

This classic Tex-Mex cuisine offers all kinds of culinary delights. A must is the daily happy hour from 5 to 8 pm. Buttermelcherstr. 17 Tel.: 089-22 64 63

MUNICH CLASS

Franziskaner

A traditional restaurant with a fine Bavarian cuisine and its own freshly brewed beer. Perusastr. 5 Tel.: 089-2 31 81 20

Schneiders Weisses Bröuhaus

In this restaurant, emphasis is on tradition with respect to both dining and furnishing. Im Tal 10 Tel.: 089-29 98 75

BEER GARDENS

These traditional open-air eateries are open not only in summer, but also on nice autumn afternoons.

Augustiner-Keller

The classic amongst Munich's beer gardens is in the centre of the city. Arnulfstr. 52 Tel.: 089-59 43 93

Chinesischer Turm

Here you can enjoy your cool beer with kettledrums, timpani and trumpets. This multicultural rendezvous point is in the middle of the English Garden. Englischer Garten 3 Tel.: 089-38 38 73 20

CAFÉS

Café Glockenspiel

This café is ideally situated, with an unobstructed view of the city hall tower including the Glockenspiel. Marienplatz 28 Tel.: 089-26 42 56

Café Münchener Freiheit

This is the classic amongst cafés, situated close to Munich's main nightlife district. Münchener Freiheit 20 Tel.: 089-33 00 79 90

Tambosi

A traditional café situated directly at the Hofgarten. Provided you get one of the many popular seats in the sun, you can enjoy the view. Inside is an excellent mixture of old and new plush sofas. Odeonsplatz 18 Tel.: 089-29 83 22

Café Mozart

Breakfast menu with a wide selection. Pettenkoferstr. 2 Tel.: 089-59 41 90

BARS

Lechthaler

The former boss of the Hilton bar, Ernst Lechthaler, now mixes his drinks in this quiet side street. Wurzerstr. 18 Tel.: 089-24 25 77 77

Master's Home

Colonial atmosphere complete with big game hunting trophies, palm trees, plush and zebra patterns, and a taste of Africa. Fraunhoferstr. 11 Tel.: 089-22 99 90

Anna-Bar

With its coffee bar and stylish restaurant, the attractive Anna hotel provides a generous amount of space not only for the hotel guests but for the general public as well. Schützenstr. 1 Tel.: 089-523 62 49

Schumann's American Bar

Germany's best-known bartender, excellent drinks and attentive service. Maximilianstr. 36 Tel.: 089-22 90 60

Cohibar City Latino-Bar

Tropical feeling with special effects. Herzog-Rudolf-Str. 2 Tel.: 089-22 88 02 89

CLUBS

P1

Munich's legendary club. It's very difficult to get past the doorkeepers, particularly on weekends. Prinzregentenstr. 1 Tel.: 089-29 42 52

Pacha

The Pacha rivals the P1 for the status of best-known Munich club. A special section is reserved for VIPs. Rosenheimer Str. 145h Tel.: 089-49 02 66 66

Parkcafé

Lovers of dancing enjoy this club, especially after having refreshed themselves in the adjacent restaurant or bar. Sophienstr. 7 Tel.: 089-59 83 13

I hope that gives you a taste of what Munich has to offer and helps you enjoy your visit.

Helpful Web sites

www.muenchen-tourist.de
www.munich-airport.com
www.olympiapark-muenchen.de

Recent Articles by Patrizia Mühlbauer, Rohde & Schwarz

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