Altstadt (Old Town)
Begin at the Frauenkirche — this cathedral was begun in 1468 and completed in 20 years. The twin towers have become a symbol of Munich. Walk southeast along any of the pedestrian alleyways radiating from the rear of the church which lead to the most famous medieval square in Munich — the Marienplatz. In the center of the square, a golden statue of the Virgin Mary (Mariensaule) rises above pavement first laid in the 1300’s. On the northern edge of the square is the richly ornamental neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), built between 1867 and 1908. On its facade is the famous Glockenspiel, the mechanical clock that performs a miniature tournament several times a day (11 AM, 12 PM, 5 PM). Climb the tower or take the elevator for a view of the city center. At the eastern border of the square is the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).
From the square walk south along Rindermarkt, encircling the masonry bulk of the Peterskirche. The church’s interior is a sun-flodded fantasy of baroque stucco and gilt. It was completed in 1180 and is the oldest parish church in Munich. Walk around the outside of the church to the back, where you’ll find the sprawling premises of one of the best-stocked food emporiums in Europe, the Victualienmarkt, known as “Munich’s stomach”, where you can snack, have a beer, or just people watch. At the northern end of the corner where streets Rosen Tal and Im Tal meet rises the richly ornate baroque walls of the Heiliggeist (Holy Ghost Church), which originally belonged to the 14th century Hospice of the Holy Ghost.
From here, cross the busy boulevard identified as Im Tal (detour east along Im Tal to Isartorplatz to see the Isar Gate, the only remaining tower from Munich’s medieval walls). Walk north along Mederbraustrasse (within a block it will change its name to Orlanostrasse and then to Am Platzl). Here, look for the entrance to the most famous beer hall in Europe, the state-owned Hofbrauhaus. Walk northwest along Pfisterstrasse. To your left are the walls of the Alter Hof — the palace was originally built in 1355 and once served as the palace of the Wittelbachs. On the opposite (northern) edge of Pfisterstrasse rise the walls of Munzhof — it once housed the imperial stables. If it’s open, the double tiers and massive stone columns of the building’s Bavarian Renaissance courtyard are worth a visit. Pfisterstrasse funnels into a broader street (Hofgraben). Walk west for one block, then turn north along Residenzstrasse. The first building on your right will be the city’s main post office and a few paces farther and you’ll reach Max-Joseph-Platz. At the north edge of the square is one of Munich’s finest museums, the Residenz. Constructed in different stages and styles from 1500 to 1850, the Residenz served as the official home of the rulers of Bavaria until 1918. Enter and tour the Treasury, with its statue of St George Slaying the Dragon, the Cuvillies Theater, and the Hofgarten.
Walk from Max-Joesph-Platz north along Residenzstrasse. Make the first left and walk along Salvatorstrasse, then turn right (north) along Theatinerstrasse. On your right you’ll notice an important Munich landmark, the Feldherrnhalle, an open-air loggia designed by Friedrick von Gartner between 1841 and 1844 as a tribute to the Bavarian Army. On the western (opposite) side of the same street is the Theatinerkirche (Church of St Kajetan), completed in 1690. Its crypt contains the tombs of many of the Wittelbachs. The church’s interior is a fine example of Italian Baroque.
Now, continue walking north, passing through Odeonsplatz. On the northeastern side of this square lies the flowers, fountains, and cafes of one of Munich’s most pleasant small parks, the Hofgarten. (Perhaps stop at Cafe Luipold for a beverage).
Walk westward along Briennerstrasse, through a neighborhood lined with impressiive buildings. On your right, notice the heroic statue of Maximillian I, rising from the center of Wittelsbacher-Platz, one of the most famous squares in Munich. It is enveloped in palaces. The equestrian statue at its center is much photographed and the Wittelbacher Fountain is the most celebrated in the city. Continue along Briennerstrasse until you see a gentle fork to your left, Sonnenstrasse. This leads to the verdant and stylish perimeter of Maximillian Platz, at the heart of one of Germany’s most prestigious shopping streets (Maximillianstrasse).
Return to Briennerstrasse, turn left (west) and head toward the 85 foot obelisk (erected in 1833) that soars above Karolinenplatz. This was the city’s first star-shaped open space. The obelisk at its center commemorates the 30,000 Bavarian soldiers who were lost in the ill-fated Russian campaign of 1812. Karolinenplatz, in the east, is linked to Konigsplatz in the west by a wide boulevard (Briennerstrasse). Proceed northwest to Konigsplatz. Its neoclassic design was selected by Ludwig I in the early 19th century. Its perimeter is ringed with some of Germany’s most impressive museum buildings.