This travelogue covers the downtown east of the Residenz and south and east of the Marienplatz past the Isar River to the Bayrischer Landestag, plus the residential districts further to the east. This verged towards the end of where the tourists flocked. They probably thought the attractions of the city pretty much ended at the Isartor (the riverside gate). That impression would be wrong.
But this chapter begins at one of the grandest attractions in all of Munich. The first photograph shows the Hofbrauhaus, located in its own little plaza east of the Marienplatz. Visiting the Hofbrauhaus was like enjoying Oktoberfest all year round. The interior was arranged like a huge fest tent, with long wooden row tables and a stage that often hosted Bavarian bands (which we Americans tended to call 'oom-pah-pah' bands, consisting usually of trombones, trumpets, strings, accordions, drums, and other festive instruments). When the bands were playing, the music was great fun. Beer was offered in several sizes -- including the traditional "maß" which was one liter (and bore the distinctive Hofbrau logo). The interior decor was really neat, too, with goldenrod walls and period murals depicting public-house goers of centuries past.
Tom had a favorite story about the Hofbrauhaus. His first time there was back in 1990 when he joined his Army buddies to the REFORGER exercise (an exercise series held during the Cold War that annually brought forces from the states to train in counterattacking a Soviet invasion). After the exercise was over and the soldiers waited to return home, Tom joined a bus tour to Munich which included lunch at the Hofbrauhaus. At the time, bus drivers were permitted to drink while on duty. So, the group ordered up its lunches -- sausages, etc. plus cokes or other sodas as the they were not permitted alcohol. The bus driver, a very big man to begin with, sat at the other end with his lunch. The food was almost as much all the group's meals combined and it was washed down with four (count them, four) maß of beer. Of course, the group didn't say anything, and the bus driver was being watched carefully during the afternoon. But the driver was totally unaffected.
Places like the Hofbrauhaus are why time seems to stand still in Munich, but the bus drivers aren't allowed to drink any more. Or at least not that much.
Moving southwest past the Altes Rathaus was probably the best open-air marketplace we had seen in Germany thus far. It was called the Viktualienmarkt, shown in the second photograph. What made this market such a treasure was its international flair. The permanent booths represented foods and other products from all over the world and the quality and variety of what was sold was top notch. Among the booths were Asian foods and spices, Greek wine and cheese and olives, Italian fresh pasta, and just about any produce available in the world. It was very large, wrapping around the muraled building shown in the photo.
The road east by southeast (simply called "Tal" on our map) led past a less-touristic shopping and eating district to the Isartor, shown in the third photo. Once the outer gate to the southeast, the Isartor merely decorated the inside of a huge boulevard (Thomas-Wimmer-Ring specifically). It actually had two sets of gates with an inner courtyard, decorated with more murals like the strip you see. Nowadays, the structure hosted the Valentinmuseum.
As the Isar River was once prone to flooding, the banks were built up as shown in the fourth photograph. This shot showed the east bank of the Praterinsel, a long island in the Isar due east from downtown on Maximilianstrasse. Most of the structures on the island and in this zone were massive government buildings, museums, or residences. The island hosted the Bavarian Alpine Museum, for example.
Much of this zone appeared to have been dedicated to Maximilian II, who had the street named after him. Maximilian also lent his name to the bridge where we took the Praterinsel shot, a huge monument to him on the Isar's west bank, and the structure shown in the fifth photo -- the Maximilianeum. This was also taken from the bridge just east of the island. The Maximilianeum was now the seat of the Bavarian Government, ominously looking over the river and city from its perch high on the east bank. Although it looked very impressive (and indeed it was), only the facade had been restored to its original form, facing the river. The opposite side was heavily modernized.
The Isar River banks were dominated by several massive parks, particularly the Englischer Garten on the west bank that ran several miles downriver. The Maximilianeum bounded a smaller east bank park that was busy with people out walking their dogs.
We visited friends and did some shopping in the eastern suburbs, and discovered for ourselves just how much Munich has become a modern sprawling metropolis. Each borough seemed to have one or two red sandstone buildings that survived the War, so to speak, but nearly all the structures (residential and otherwise) were thirty years old or younger, built tall and in utilitarian style. As Munich is becoming a major hub for Bavaria's high-tech industries, the city has been steadily growing east -- we saw numerous residential complexes under construction at the eastern border, and business seems to be doing well. The network of streetcars, subways, and buses is very extensive in Munich, so that's how most people get around -- as parking is becoming severely problematic. Our assessment was that for tourists, there was little compelling reason to wander east of the Hofbrauhaus unless there's a specific event.
Several trips taken between 2001-2004 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin