The signs were a tad confusing. The arrow should have pointed up instead of up and over. Nonetheless, I walked the stairs up to Marienplatz, the center of Munich. Goosebumps crept up my arms and neck as I realized something.
This is my home. This Medieval city filled with Gothic buildings and whispers of history is now my home.
Scurrying through the plaza, I found my group. What better way to explore my new home city the first week I was here than a free walking tour? So I accepted the embarrassment of clearly being labeled a tourist for the afternoon and marched on with the group.
Here are a few of the must-see spots in central Munich. If you hit these, you’ve at least hit the highlights.
New Town Hall
Our first stop was one of the most iconic buildings in Munich — New Town Hall, the giant building that sort of takes up the entire plaza. The hall was only built a little over 100 years ago, even though it looks much older.
Fun fact: The Old Town Hall across the plaza was ruined during World War II. They renovated the building in the 1950s as a result, making the Old Town Hall newer than the New Town Hall.
Frauenkirche (The Church of our Lady)
Surprisingly Gothic, this building has quite the tale behind it. Supposedly the Devil came to visit one day and saw that a new church was being built. He obviously wanted it destroyed, but he made a deal with the architect to limit the number of windows so it was dark and dingy inside, not a very pleasant place for a church. So the Devil sent his demons to finish the church in 20 years.
When the Devil came back and saw what had been built, he was angry because there were too many windows and the place turned out to be beautiful. He was so angry that he stomped his foot and to this day you can see the Devil’s footprint at the back of the church … or maybe it’s just the architect’s …
Filled with all the food your heart could desire, that is if you’re into fruit, veggies, cheese, meat and beer. The basics of the German diet, although I think they’d be happy with just pork and beer. I go here at least once a week now and am completely in love, if nothing else for the nice and convenient location. My favorite foods to get are olives, meat sandwiches/hot dogs and fresh fruit. Not everything is the cheapest since it’s fresh, locally grown and sometimes organic.
Another neat thing about the market is the bier garten. It’s the only garten owned by the city, which means it can serve whatever beer it likes. It’s not owned by a single brewery. So they do a rotation of six beers that come straight out of Munich. They serve one until it runs out and then move onto the next.
Built in the 1500s, this beer hall is the most famous in Munich. It’s mainly a tourist spot, but there are those locals who still go there. In fact, if you want to be a true local of this beer hall and get a special locker with your own personal mug inside, you have to go to the hall at least three times a week for 15 years, so they say. Apparently some people don’t think it’s that big of an undertaking because there are plenty of mugs lined up against the walls.
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, platz means “place,” or plaza. There are a few around here, and they usually consist of a large old building with a memorial of some sort nearby. The part I found fascinating about this area was the lions. One faces the royal palace and the other the church. The one facing the palace has its mouth open to symbolize the fact that the people should always be able to speak out against government authorities. The lion facing the church has its mouth shut to say that people should not speak out against God or those serving him in religious positions. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten that just by looking at them!
I spent three hours walking around Munich hearing old tales and gawking at beautifully detailed buildings thanks to SANDEMANs Tours. I had such an incredible guide who mixed history and humor very well. Now I’m not being paid or anything by them to promote their tours. I just genuinely enjoyed my free walking tour and want to share the tip with you. They have both free and paid tours all over Europe, and I am planning on going back to them the next time I visit a city they’re in.