Munich is home to plenty of beautiful buildings, from the imposing Neo-Gothic architecture of the Neues Rathaus that dominates Marienplatz to the many pretty Neoclassical churches and contemporary edifices. Here, Culture Trip has whittled it down to the best of the bunch – so grab your camera, put on your comfy trainers and start exploring the streets of Munich.
This tiny chapel was built between 1733 to 1746 by the Asam brothers, sculptors and architects, as their personal chapel – through its construction they hoped to secure their salvation, and the interior of the church conveys this message: the lightest part of the church is the top section symbolising the salvation of heaven, while the pews representing this earth are mostly in darkness. Packed full of ornate marble work and statues, it’s an unexpected find tucked in between the buildings on Sendlingerstraße.
The New Town Hall is at the very heart of Marienplatz, and as a result it has become one of the most famous buildings in Munich. Built in the late 1800s, it covers a staggering 9,159 square metres (98,600 sq ft) and has over 400 rooms. It was designed by Georg von Hauberrisser, who won a competition for the honour. Today, it’s still a working office for the city council and mayor – not to mention home to the balcony where football club FC Bayern greet fans when they celebrate winning the Bundesliga, Germany’s football league. Keep your eye on the time when you visit: one of its most famous features is the elaborate Glockenspiel cuckoo clock where a carousel of figures dance at 11am, 12pm and 5pm.
The Catholic Herz-Jesu-Kirche (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in Munich is a fantastic building that will impress everyone, religious or not. The massive blue glass cube encapsulates another hidden wooden cube, and has the largest church doors in the world. If you’re lucky enough to visit Munich on high feast days, you might experience the entire front of the building opening up, but normally, you just enter through a smaller pair of front doors. It was completed in 2000 to replace the church that had previously stood in the location, which had been destroyed in a 1994 fire. The church is a truly remarkable place of worship – a design feat that is well worth a visit.
This church’s two iconic onion domes are the most distinctive sight of the Munich skyline. Construction started in 1468, but it was badly damaged by airstrikes in World War II and has been gradually restored since then. The interior is fairly simple and plain in comparison to some of the other Munich churches; instead of elaborate stucco work, you’ll find a series of small inner chapels as well as the grave of Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian. Make sure to climb the south tower for views across Munich – on a clear day you can see right across to the Alps.
Nymphenburg Palace was built in 1675 to celebrate the birth of the Bavarian heir Max Emanuel to the throne. With its beautiful gardens and grand rooms, it soon became a favourite of Bavarian rulers, several of whom were born or died here. Sadly, not all the rooms of the palace are open to tourists; but once you’ve seen everything inside, head outdoors to admire extensive formal gardens. There’s even a dedicated app that uses augmented reality to help visitors learn more about what they’re looking at.
Right next to the Odeonsplatz U-Bahn station stand the distinctive 66-metre-high (217-foot-high) towers of the yellow Theatinerkirche. This 17th-century Catholic church was built by a Bavarian nobleman to give thanks for the birth of his long-awaited heir to the throne. Its Italian architect, Agostino Barelli, brought a touch of the Mediterranean to Munich with the high-Baroque style, ornate interiors and yellow Rococo-style exterior of the church. The Theatine is incredibly beautiful inside – make sure to look up into the 71-metre-high (233-foot-high) dome to admire the stucco work and sculptures.
Munich’s museum for modern art, architecture and design is in a suitably eye-catching building – Stephan Braunfels’ design features a 25-metre-high (82-foot-high) glass dome, as well as large picture windows and delicate, yet towering pillars. The rotunda fulfils the function of an Italian piazza and is the starting point for all tours of the museum. Inside, the spacious, white halls are a joy to wander around, and function as a beautiful blank slate for the art. Don’t miss the only remaining fragment of the former Prince Arnulf barracks, set between the new Pinakothek and the Museum Brandhorst, inside of which you can admire artist Walter de Maria’s striking Large Red Sphere.
Situated near the city’s central train station, Justizpalast has been home to the Bavarian Department of Justice and District Court I since its completion in 1897. It’s best known for being the location where the White Rose resistance group was tried in 1943, and room 253, where the trial took place, now houses a permanent exhibition on the Scholl siblings and their fight against Nazism. Constructed by architect Friedrich von Thiersch, the Neo-Baroque building features an intricate glass dome in the centre of the ceiling, which illuminates the majestic interior during the day. Justizpalast is free to enter, and often holds exhibitions about the justice system at the main entrance.
Though it had humble beginnings as a relatively modest castle in 1385, today the Residenz is a symbol of prestige; its grand palace is now thought to be one of the largest museum complexes in Bavaria, hosting numerous art collections and exhibitions about Bavaria’s history, as well as the occasional classical music concert and competition. While it shuts on certain public holidays, it’s usually open until 5pm (6pm in summertime), but if you’re planning a visit, it’s worth noting there’s a strict rule about bringing large bags into the building.
Even before stepping inside Museum Brandhorst, it’s evident that that gallery brings a distinctly modern edge to Munich’s art scene; the building’s exterior is covered in 36,000 tubes glazed in different colours, producing a spectacular kaleidoscopic effect. Inside, vast white walls and open spaces house permanent exhibitions featuring works by modern art icons such as Damien Hirst, Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. The latter’s famous Marilyn portrait is one of the museum’s biggest draws.