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Munich city guide

Famous for its beer festival, Munich is capital of Germany's largest state, Bavaria, and home to the country's most successful club, FC Bayern München.

Population: 1,353,000
Area: 310.43 km²

Both a cutting-edge centre of art, culture and consumerism, and upholder of tradition, Munich's pristine city centre features soaring medieval spires, echoing beer halls and designer boutiques. The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded it, and who are also remembered in the monk depicted on their coat of arms. Germany's third largest city, behind Berlin and Hamburg, Munich remains a welcoming and personable place, shown by the motto 'München mag Dich' (Munich likes you).


The year 1158 is the earliest date the city is mentioned in a document signed in Augsburg. By that time Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a bridge over the river Isar next to a settlement of Benedictine monks. Almost two decades later, in 1175, Munich was officially granted city status and received fortification. In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria and Munich was handed over to the Bishop of Freising. The Wittelsbach dynasty would rule Bavaria until 1918, though it was split in two from 1255 to 1506.

In 1806 the city became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city. After an unsettled period between the wars in the first half of the 20th century, Munich was rebuilt after 1945 following a meticulous plan which preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957 Munich's population passed the one million mark and 15 years later, the city staged the Olympics.


Munich has the strongest economy of any German city and with the lowest unemployment rates of major German cities it is very prosperous. Seven out of the 30 companies listed in the German blue chip stock market index DAX have their headquarters in Munich. This includes luxury car maker BMW, electrical engineering giant Siemens, chip producer Infineon, truck manufacturer MAN, industrial gas specialist Linde, the world's largest insurance company Allianz and the world's largest re-insurer Munich Re.


• Richard Strauss, composer (1864-1949) – especially known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome.
• Carl Amery, author and activist (1922-2005) – wrote under the pen name of Christian Anton Mayer, an environmental activist. He was a participant of Gruppe 47.
• Franz Beckenbauer, footballer (b1945-) – the first man to win the FIFA World Cup as a player and then a coach, 'Der Kaiser' was famed for his elegant style and leadership and remains a distinguished figure in football.


The Frauenkirche is the gothic symbol of the city, where the onion-domed towers of the original 15th-century church in focal Marienplatz rise over the old centre of town, the Altstadt. Rebuilt after the war, the church contains paintings and tombs from the 16th century, which remarkably survived the Allied bombing.

The glitzy former residence of the Bavarian kings, the Residenz now houses museums and a theatre, a complex right in the centre of town. Extravagant dynastic treasures are on display in the 130 rooms of the vast Residenzmuseum, which stands alongside the State Collection of Egyptian Art, and the rococo Cuvillies Theatre.

The beautiful landscaped Englischer Garten near the centre of town covers five square kilometres and is dotted with beer gardens, also featuring a Japanese teahouse, Chinese pagoda and a neo-classical temple. At its southern edge is the Modern Art Museum and the Bavarian National Museum.

Champions Festival: Olympiapark
Built for the 1972 Olympic Games, this vast sports complex contains the Olympiastadion, a sports hall and swimming pool, artificial lake and the nearly 300m-high Olympic Tower. A panoramic restaurant offers superb views of the city and the Alps beyond.


To and from
Franz Josef Strauß international airport has received many awards for its architecture. Standing 28.5km north-east of Munich, it opened in May 1992 after the previous Airport München-Riem reached its limits of expansion. Nearly 100 airlines connect the airport to 230 destinations in more than 70 countries. Munich railway station, meanwhile, has 32 overground and two underground tracks and welcomes 350,000 travellers per day.

In and around
The best way of getting around in Munich is to use the public transport system MVV. There are buses, trams, the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn. There is also the Deutsche Bahn if you want to travel within Germany. Additionally, Munich has some trams. Most of the trains run from early in the morning to about 1am or 2am. Additionally, there are night buses and night trams (Nachtlinien) that run at intervals of about 30 minutes all night on Fridays and Saturdays.


Thanks to Bayern, Munich has been the dominant city in Bundesliga history with the club enjoying ample success at home and abroad. Bayern have been German champions 22 times and lifted the national cup on 23 occasions, while they won three successive European Champions Clubs' Cup between 1974 and 1976 and lifted the UEFA Champions League in 2000/01. Bayern also won the 1995/96 UEFA Cup and claimed the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1967, making them one of only four clubs (along with FC Barcelona, AFC Ajax and Juventus) to win all three UEFA club competitions.

TSV 1860 München have also won one championship, in 1966, and two German Cups to leave the city with 44 major trophies; 1860 were also runners-up in the 1964/65 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

In 2000/01 Munich had three top-flight teams with the promotion of SpVgg Unterhaching, who played in the Bundesliga between 1999 and 2001 but have since slipped back into the third tier.

Munich staged games during the 1974 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, with the final of the former competition being played at the Olympiastadion. The ground was also the venue for the 1988 UEFA European Championship final, while the new Fußball Arena München staged six games at the 2006 World Cup, including France's semi-final victory against Portugal. 2012 will be the fourth time the European Cup final has taken place in Munich, after 1979, 1993 and 1997.


Football is No1, but Bayern also have their own basketball team while EHC München compete in the top tier of German ice hockey.