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The Glockenspiel at Munich.
The Glockenspiel at Munich.
One of the many German beer halls.
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Munich

Thursday, January 24, 2002
Munich is known as "the world city with a heart". It's beautiful and has a lot more to offer than beer!

Munich is known as "the world city with a heart". It was founded in 1158 by Henry the Lion, but is today a very modern, sprawling city with old and new buildings forming an interesting mix. West Germany's post-war economic glory is obvious, and there are museums, a thriving arts scene. The city is well planned, with plenty of green space and bike paths — a car isn't necessary to get around. The subway, or U-Bahn, criss-crosses the city, making moving from one place to another very simple.

Munich is Germany's second most visited city, possibly best known for hosting the world's biggest beer party — Oktoberfest. Tourists might go there just for the beer, but to locals it is a place for families. The Hofbrauhaus is probably the most popular hall and seats 4000 people in one sitting, drinking beer, eating sausage and pork hocks and having a wonderful time. The Hirschgarten is Munich's biggest beer garden, and when the sun is shining, it's like Oktoberfest every day.

The idea of beer halls and gardens became a reality in 1589 when imported beer began interfering with the current prince's balance of payments. His chief accountant suggested a brewery and beer hall, and the town was saved.

Munich is a cultural centre and seat of learning. Its skyline is one of gables, spires and statues, and it is a city of hearty eating and good shopping.

Englischer Garten, or English Garden, spreads from the city centre and is one of Europe's oldest landscaped public parks. The land was designated for soldiers without work, and they were given sections of it to work on. On sunny days, it seems as though all of Munich is there — cycling, kite flying, badminton, horseriding, swimming and sunbathing are all popular. Artificial white-water rapids flow though the park, giving Müncheners the chance to surf. Nude sunbathing is permitted in designated areas.

The garden has a Japanese tea house, Chinese pagoda and Greek temple. It also has a couple of beer gardens! As it flows gently from the heart of town to the countryside, deer, rabbits and hundreds of different trees and flowers appear.

Marienplatz is the heart and soul of the Altstadt. The glowing St Mary's Column was erected there in 1638 in gratitude for being spared both the plague and Swedish forces. It is topped with a glowing golden figure of the Virgin Mary.

Neues Rathaus, the late-Gothic new town hall, has towering spires and a blackened façade with wonderful gargoyles and statues, including a magnificent dragon climbing the turrets. It surrounds six courtyards, and throughout the year, events and festivals are held there.

The greatest attraction of Neues Rathaus is the three-level Glockenspiel. Two levels portray the Schäfflertanz (Cooper's Dance) and the Ritterturnier, a 1568 knight's tournament held to celebrate the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V.

Another scene features the Night Watchmen with the Angel of Peace, who put the Munich children to bed at 9pm with a lullaby.

The carillon has been ringing across the Marienplatz since 1903, and from November to April it chimes at 11am, noon and 5pm. People gather in the thousands to watch and photograph the giant music box with the figures putting on a magical show as the bells chime.

Location

In the heart of Bavaria.

Cost

Accommodation, including breakfast, starts at around $170 a double per night.
Qantas flies daily to Frankfurt with connections to Munich. Return economy airfares start at $1899 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth, per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

German National Tourist Office
Ph: (02) 9267 8148 Fax: (02) 9267 9035
Website: www.germany-tourism.de
E-mail: gnto@germany.org.au
Vaccinations: Tetanus/Diphtheria and Measles if under 30 and no previous booster. Take plenty of sunscreen and a small medical kit containing remedies for ailments such as coughs and colds.
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit traveldoctor.com.au

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