Despite its reputation as a city of beer with the highlight being the annual Oktoberfest (originally established as a royal wedding celebration in 1810) Munich has so much more to offer visitors all year round. For a city of about 1.5 million people, it has nearly forty top class museums, world class art galleries and a thriving music and theatre scene, yet it still feels like a fairly small town. It’s clean, friendly, safe and has a fascinating history – from unscrupulous monarchs to the birthplace of National Socialism.
The city is a great mix of architectural styles. Traditional and modern sit beside each other. The striking Ohel Jakob Synagogue (2006) on St Jakob’s Platz sits near the site of the original one destroyed in 1938 surrounded by traditional Bavarian buildings. It is made of travertine stone topped with a glass cube, and the interior walls are panelled with warm cedar decorated with gold.
Having taken a guided tour around the city centre, we learned how the candle lit National Theatre was saved from being totally burned to the ground. The roof had been designed as an inverted dome to collect rainwater, with pipes attached to become the world’s first sprinkler system. However on the night of the fire in January 1823, the water had frozen so help came from the nearby brewery who doused the blaze with barrels of beer, which by the sound of it also turned into a big street party. Electricity was installed when it was rebuilt to prevent this happening again.