Oh you thought Central Park was a big deal? The 900-acre Englisch Garten in Munich has it beat in terms of size; in fact it’s one of the biggest urban green areas in the world. The record-breaking park stretches almost from the city centre to the edge of Munich. Still not convinced Munich has its stateside competitor beat? The Englisch Garten has a Japanese teahouse, two beer gardens, and river surfers pulling off crazy tricks. And you can sunbathe naked.
Englischer Garten, 80538 München, Germany.
It might seem strange that Müncheners are proud of a company headquarters, but it’s true. BMW actually stands for the Bayerishe Motoren Werke, and as the capital city of Bavaria, Munich is intensely loyal to the brand and its HQ which has been in the city for over 40 years. BMW World has taken that pride and turned its HQ into a hub for the city; as well as the practical things like offices and a sales centre, it regularly hosts events and exhibitions, as well as family days with reduced entry and child-friendly activities.
While most people admire the front of the Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz, it has a chequered past. Under the Third Reich it was used as a monument to members of the Nazi party who had died in the Beer Hall Putsch, and residents were supposed to salute the monument as they walked past. For those who could not bring themselves to make the Nazi salute, they used to nip down a small side street that runs behind the monument to avoid it. With just this small act of defiance they were risking a beating or even the concentration camp. Today, there’s a series of gold paving stones that marks both the route they took and their bravery.
Müncheners love to be outdoors, and take pride in having a green city that allows them to do just that. There are many beautiful spots along the Isar to sit back and enjoy the sun. One of the most picturesque is near the Müller´sches Volksbad and Muffatswerk, just off Ludwigsbruke. Head to the Deutsches Museum tram stop, then follow the smell of BBQs and sound of swimmers down to the riverside. As you eat and relax, wave to the tubers and boaters that float past. To complete your picnic in true Münchener style, cool your crate of Augustiner beer in the river!
Though there’s a lot of grumbling about prices, lost traditions and drunk stag parties when Oktoberfest starts, it is a core part of Munich’s identity and something the city is incredibly proud of. The festival has been going for over 200 years and has grown from a modest event to celebrate a king’s marriage, to the biggest festival in the world. Each year, over 6 million people descend on Bavaria’s capital to eat, drink, and be merry. The fact that the city manages to pull it off is a testament to both German efficiency and Bayerisch hospitality.
It can be easy for shiny new Olympic facilities to fall into disuse after the glitz of an Olympics has gone, but 45 years later, Munich’s Olympiapark is still in everyday use. Its iconic wavy-roofed stadium currently hosts the highest number of national and international competitions of any venue in Germany. The nearby Olympic Halls regularly give the city a 15,000 seat concert venue ready to welcome international acts. The park is also the venue for Europe’s longest music festival and regular flea markets. It might be a child of the 70s, but it’s very much part of city life.