DAY 7 – Saturday, June 29, 2019 – Munich >> Dachau >> Munich
After a buffet breakfast at Hotel TRYP, our new bus driver, Joseph, took us to Munich. I don’t Joseph is as good of a driver as Vladymir.
Munich (Munchen) is the capital city of Bavaria. Munich is the third most populated city in Germany, with more than 1.5 million residents in the city, and 2.7 million in the greater Munich area. It is located on the River Isar in the south of Bavaria. It is famous for beautiful architecture, fine culture, and the annual Oktoberfest beer celebration. Munich was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II, but many of its historic buildings have been rebuilt and the city center appears mostly as it did in the late 1800s.
In Munich, an English speaking tour guide boarded our bus and provided us with a one hour bus tour. We got out and walked around the area where Adolf Hitler and his administration established the Nazi movement: Feldherrnhalle, Konigsplatz (King’s Square), and Hofgarten (Courts Garden).
Adolf Hitler arrived in Munich in May 1913. He came from Vienna with all of his belongings in a single suitcase. Over the next few months, he sold self-painted postcards to tourists. He served as a volunteer in the German army during World War I from 1914 – 1918. In September 1919, he joined the German Workers Party, a small right wing group. He eventually took over leadership of the Party and changed its name to The National Socialist German Workers Party. In November 1923, he led a violent failed attempt to seize power at Feldherrnhalle. In January of 1933, he became the Chancellor of the German Reich and one of the most powerful dictators in history. Konigsplatz was used during the Third Reich as a square for the Nazi Party’s mass rallies. Nazi book burnings occurred at Konigsplatz in 1933. Today, one of the buildings near Konigsplatz is a school for music and theater called Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Munchen. In the northeast corner of Hofgarten stands a square black granite memorial for the White Rose group, whose members were executed for a non-violent campaign against Hitler’s regime.
The bus dropped us off at the City Centre. We walked quickly to Marienplatz (St. Mary’s, Our Lady’s Square) to watch the Glockenspiel (bells play) in the tower of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) at the top of the hour.
The second construction phase of the New Town Hall dates back to 1908. Every day at 11:00 am and 12:00 pm (and 5:00 pm in the summer), the Glockenspiel chimes and reenacts stories from the 16th century delighting large crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V, who founded the Hofbrauhaus, and Renata of Lorraine. In honor of the couple, there is a joust with life-sized knights on Bavaria (in white and blue) and Lothringen (in red and white). This is followed by a second tale on the bottom half: Schafflertanz (the coopers’ dance). According to myth, 1517 was a year of plague in Munich. The coopers are said to have danced through the streets to “bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions”. The coopers remained loyal to the duke, and their dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty to authority through difficult times. The whole show last between 12 and 15 minutes depending on which tune it plays. At the very end of the show, a small golden rooster at the top of the Glockenspiel chirps quietly three times marking the end of the spectacle.
After the Glockenspiel, we had a short amount of free time; Barbara and I went to the ATM to get euros. We walked back to the Information Center to meet our group. Barbara was a little panicked because we were the only ones there; she thought the group had left without us. Turns out, we were just the first ones to arrive there! Is anyone keeping track of this?
Once the entire group congregated, we went into Munich’s largest church, Frauenkirche (Cathedral of our Dear Lady). There was a service going on, but Vladya was insistent that we enter. Inside, we saw the end of a procession of a coronation of priests (Priesterveihe). Cardinal Marx was leading the procession. Pope Benedict XVI (the pope prior to current Pope Francis) came from Frauenkirche in Munich. We lost Ann, from our group, in the church.
Frauenkirche was built between 1468 and 1494. With its 99-meter high twin onion towers, this gothic style church is a major landmark. It serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Friesing, and the seat of its Archbishop. Mass is held there regularly; it can seat approximately 20,000 people. Much of the interior was destroyed during World War II. An attraction that survived is Teufelsschritt (Devil’s Footstep).
We were looking at the Devil’s Footprint at the entry of the church. Usually, it takes 100 – 200 years for a cathedral to be built. This one only took twenty years because the builder made a deal with the devil – not to have any windows visible from the entry. When the church was complete, the devil entered with one foot to confirm there were no windows!
After Ann was reunited with our group, we walked to the World Famous Hofbrau Haus.
The Hofbrauhaus was built in 1589; the general public was admitted in 1828 by King Ludwig I. The building was completely remodeled in 1897. All of the rooms except for the historic beer hall were destroyed in World War II bombings. The re-opening of the Festival Hall in 1958 marked the end of the post-war restoration work. The brewery provides space for about 2,500 guests in the large beer hall on the ground floor, with additional rooms on the upper floors and in its beer garden.
There was a polka band playing. Misa, Vladya, Cecelia, Jan, Ceil, Barbara, and I found a table. Barbara and Vladya ordered the BIG beers. I had a refreshingly delicious Radler (beer + lemonade). Barbara and I shared a giant pretzel (bigger than my head), a pork knuckle, and a potato dumpling. The pretzel and pork were very good. The dumpling was OK, but a little rubbery.
Radler is German for cyclist. While the menus say Radler is combination of beer and lemonade, it is actually a combination of beer and carbonated lemon-lime soda. The name relates to the popularity of cycling in the region and the need for a refreshing, less alcoholic beverage on a long journey. According to legend, in 1922, a Munich innkeeper, waiting for his cyclist regulars realized that he did not have enough beer, so he blended the remaining beer with lemonade. The regulars liked it, and it became popular.
After lunch, I bought a dirndl for my granddaughter.
In the afternoon, we went to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site for an audio guided tour. Listening to the stories of survivors while walking around the cells, barracks, and gas chambers was very somber. There are a number of memorials on the grounds to honor the victims who died there.
In 1933, less than two months after Hitler came into power, Dachau Concentration Camp was opened. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. It was the first of the Nazi concentration camps intended to hold political prisoners. Later, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. It turned out to be a system used by the Nazis to torture and murder millions of innocent people. While the system spread out to many other parts of Europe over the next 12 years, Dachau was the model for other camps. It was also the training center for the SS. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp from 1933 – 1945; 40,000 of them perished. The camp was liberated by the United States forces on April 29, 1945. About 10,000 of the 30,000 prisoners were sick at the time of liberation. In the postwar years, the Dachau facility served to hold SS soldiers awaiting trial. After 1948, it held ethnic Germans who had been expelled from Eastern Europe and were awaiting resettlement. It was also used for a time as a United States military based during the occupation. It was finally closed in 1960. In 1965, a memorial to the victims was created, giving visitors a chance to learn of the atrocities prisoners were forced to suffer.
Afterwards, we drove back to the Hotel TRYP and had dinner in the hotel again. Why do my ankles get red and rashy when it’s hot? Thankfully, Marlene gave me some Gold Bond healing lotion. Barbara and I went back to our room and packed for the next day.
What are your favorite things to do in Munich?