June 12


Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

By Frank

June 12, 2020

Notoriously wonderful ”, as the writer and Nobel Prize winner for literature Thomas Mann put it. The Free State has a lot to offer – world- famous and unknown, culture as well as nature . Bavaria convinces as a lovable living space and business location .

Almost everything is different in Bavaria, so the clocks tick differently here. Don't you think so? Then go to Munich's Isartor and take a close look at the clocks. With the clock on the west side , reading the time requires rethinking: the dial is mirrored , the golden pair of hands runs backwards ... It was Willy Brandt (Federal Chancellor from 1969 - 1974) who coined the sentence: " In Bavaria the clocks tick different. " After all, some things are possible in Bavaria that would be impossible elsewhere .

The history of Bavaria goes back to the 6th century AD . return. Formerly a powerful duchy , later a constitutional monarchy , shortly after the First World War a communist-controlled Soviet Republic , then lost its independence under the Nazi regime, only to adopt the constitution of the Free State in a referendum in 1946.

As the state capital of Bavaria , Munich plays an interesting and important role in this little paradise, both in the past and to this day. Excavations in the old town area show that the city center of Munich was already inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period, around 2000 BC ...

It was and is necessary to consider and implement Baukultur principles such as:

  • Improving the quality of life of city dwellers
  • Strengthen the economy and secure jobs
  • Ensure aesthetic demands and quality of use
  • Create breeding ground for education and culture
  • Organize finances and administration effectively
  • Today also: Topics such as nature and landscape , leisure and sport are relevant

It all started with salt...

From the facade of the Old Town Hall, a statue of Henry the Lion looks down on the Salzstraße , which ran through the valley from the Isartor. The "white gold" had prompted him to destroy the Isar Bridge near Föhring in 1156. Because the Salt Road led over this bridge and brought in market and bridge duties for the Bishop of Freising . Heinrich built his own bridge over the Isar (roughly on the site of today's Ludwigsbrücke) and rerouted the salt road...

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

Alte Salzstrasse

Salt - more precious than gold

Today, salt is usually at the bottom of the shelf in supermarkets. The pound is already available for 15 cents . For thousands of years, salt was the only means of preserving fish, meat, fruit and vegetables for a long time . This type of preservation is known as curing almost everywhere in the world. Already 250 BC. For example, the Chinese introduced a salt tax to increase government revenue. The construction of the Great Wall was financed with salt at the time.

  • The Romans paid their soldiers with salt . Hence the name Salär (from the Latin "sal" for salt).
  • Salad is the salted greens , and the salami is the salted meat . Salt is the most precious of all precious stones (quote: “Justus von Liebig” – inventor of “ Maggi ”). It is the only mineral that humans can - and must - eat.
  • The Celts had already mined salt near the Austrian town of Hallein (from the Greek "hal" for salt ). One of the salt roads led from Reichenhall to Munich .
  • Where water saturated with salt, so-called brine , was extracted, it had to be boiled in large pans over an open fire. The water evaporated and salt crystals formed . Hence the term common salt .
  • Salt can also be extracted directly from the sea. The Sicilians boiled sea water . The Venetians, on the other hand, created a system of basins and used solar energy to evaporate seawater. No state has built its economy on salt as much as Venice .

The " apud Munichen " settlement developed into one of the most important salt trading towns on the salt road.

Salt was precious!

Urban development in Munich in three phases

  1. Phase 1 : from the foundation in 1156 to the first city walls. Situational and project-related incrementalism , as with probably every city founding, are quite normal in the initial phase.
  2. Phase 2 : Agenda 1800 - here we go... The new Munich. From 1800 the change to more systematic planning took place. Urban planning requires an interdisciplinary, integrated and forward-looking approach .
  3. Phase 3 : 1860 - 1918 The abandonment of the fortress ring is like preparing the way for industrialization and urban development as a living space for the growing population.

Phase 1: From the foundation to the first city wall

"Apud Munichen" - by the monks

The name Munich probably goes back to the place name 'apud Munichen ' – 'at the monks'. The city's seal and coat of arms allude to this origin. Rulers in Munich were determined by a constant interplay between duke, church and citizenry . After founding the place, Henry the Lion was granted the right to use the market and mint .

Within three generations of rulers , extensive buildings of the court and the church were built. Duke Wilhelm V had the Jesuit College with St. Michael's Church and the Wilhelmine Fortress, which later became Maxburg, built. His son, Elector Maximilian I , expanded the residence to an impressive size . A generation later, Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife brought the Theatine order to Munich .

For centuries, city life was centered on the market square . In addition to the salt, wine and cloth trade , the Getreideschanne was of particular importance.

City on the water - the Isar as a waterway

The location on the river played an important role in the development of Munich . Until well into the 19th century, the Isar served as a transport route from the south to Munich and from there to Vienna and the Danube countries . The three-day stacking right also dates from this period. Foreign raft masters had to offer the transported goods for general sale in Munich for three days . Merchandise included cotton, spices, tropical fruits, oil and wine from Italy . At peak times from 1860 to 1876, around 10,000 rafts landed in Munich every year (up to 50 rafts a day ).

In the years 1473 – 1475 alone, the wood from 147 rafts was needed for the construction of the Frauenkirche , of which 630 cubic meters of logs were used to build the roof structure . A raft usually consisted of 18 to 20 tree trunks , which were connected to a raft board with cross trunks, the rays. About a fifth of the rafts go beyond Munich, mostly with deliveries of wood . Munich's raft harbor was considered the largest in Europe .

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

Isar at the Volksbad and Gasteig

With the development of rail transport and steamships, more effective means of transport later became available. At the same time, there were more and more competing uses of the watercourses, e.g. B. hydroelectric power plants.

City streams – lifelines of a city

No less important than the river were the city streams in Munich . As a mountain river with rapidly changing water levels , the Isar originally had a widely branched network of side arms . These natural bifurcations were regulated, fortified and supplemented by further stretches of stream in the course of urban development. Even if most of the former city streams no longer exist - only 174 km of the former 300 km of streams and canals in today's city area still carry water.

At the same time, it has always been an important task for the municipality to secure the course of the river and the streams, to repair flood damage and to guarantee the drainage of the simple but efficient system for the trade .

  • energy for the mills
  • city fortification
  • drinking water supply
  • sanitation


In the 19th century, Munich resembles a public latrine . Manure is stored or disposed of everywhere, people suffer from typhus and cholera. Max von Pettenkofer realizes that the city needs to be cleaner and decides to change something. He turns hygiene into a science .

In 1865 he established an institute for hygiene , in the meantime as rector of the LMU, and became its first professor. He also fights publicly for a central urban canalization of sewage , a central drinking water supply and a central slaughterhouse .

Phase 2: Agenda 1800 - here we go... The new Munich

From 1800 the change to more systematic planning took place. Urban development requires an interdisciplinary, integrated and future-oriented approach. A city is a highly complex entity consisting of different layers and structures that are interwoven and mutually dependent.

Improving the quality of life meant breaking away from the old image of the dirty, hectic and noisy juggernaut even then and creating ongoing urban development as a living space for the growing population .

Following the Napoleonic Wars , Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806 after gaining new provinces. State administration was centralized in Munich. Thus, the representative urban design of Munich took on a new, very important meaning.

The following projects were necessary to realize the representative urban design :

  • delimitation of the old town
  • Redesign of the fortress area
  • Development of new settlement areas for urban expansion
  • urban upgrading of the residence

Dissolution of the boundaries of the old town - breaking out of the fortress walls

In 1795, Elector Carl Theodor decided that Munich “was not, could not be, nor should it be” a fortress. Munich had been a fortified place from the time it was founded and was bordered by medieval city walls and baroque fortifications. Time clearly gnawed at these defense works and, in case of doubt , could not withstand modern military technology . (see also development of castles into palaces).

With the softening, the change to a new openness began and instead of static persistence, there was dynamic growth with constant change . The population often only noticed this with great protest . Today's Karlsplatz, better known as Stachus , is such a striking example.

The then narrow, winding gateway through the ramparts was not up to modern traffic , but the residents of Munich resented the leveling of the protective wall and thus potential vulnerability of the elector. They refused to accept the name of the square and renamed it Stachus (based on the beer garden host Eustachius Förderl). This phenomenon of double naming , even on internationally available maps, for one and the same place is unique in the world .

The planning of today's square with the surrounding rondel and the straight wings from today's Lenbachplatz to Herzogspitalstraße arose from the visual creativity of the Imperial Count von Rumford and was entrusted to the architects of the Hofbauamt for execution.

Development of the Burgfrieden as living space – the English Garden

The medieval ground plan of the city of Munich was tightly enclosed by the city wall . Now useless for defense purposes, however, it blocked the way for city expansion. However, before the demolition of the defenses was completed, the planners began to go beyond Munich's borders with the design of the English Garden .

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

English Garden with Monopteros

The 375-hectare park was the first public park in Munich to be open to all citizens as a Volksgarten . To date, it is one of the largest parks and recreational areas within the city in the world. The name English Garden was taken from the English landscape gardens that Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell used as a model when designing the site.

The park along the Hall of Fame (Theresienwiese), the Maximiliansanlagen on the Isar, the Luitpoldpark were modeled on the English Garden. Liberalitas Bavariae Live and let live . Improving the quality of life of city dwellers. This creates satisfaction among the residents of Munich.

Free residence from tight location

The residence was surrounded by a large monastery to the south and was therefore hardly visible. The secularization of 1803 created the general conditions to level the monastery to a large area , thus freeing the residence while the plans for the redesign of the residence square were already maturing. The square was ultimately intended to express the newly acquired dignity .

The square only got its final appearance over time through the new construction projects of three kings - the National Theater, the Royal Building and the colonnade in the south.

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

Above: Residenzplatz before Photo source: University of Oldenburg

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

above: Residenzplatz after Photo source: University of Oldenburg

The monument of King Max I Joseph forms the center and thus the focus. Interestingly, he sits without a crown and without a scepter , thus expressing his closeness to the people . The ensemble was completed by the completion of Maximilianstrasse with the Maximilianeum as the crown and end point on the high bank of the Isar on the other side.

The site of the residence in the north was also to be upgraded with a representative forecourt , today's Odeonsplatz . Essential suggestions and ideas came from the star architect Sckell, but Klenze was nevertheless awarded the contract for the overall planning of the square and the future boulevard (Ludwigstrasse), especially since he also acted as a middleman and covered the purchase of the property from the private funds of Crown Prince Ludwig I.

The approach reflected the preference of the builder Ludwig I for Italy and envisaged a piazza with a straight street to the north (Ludwigstrasse). As desired, the construction of this street axis shifted the urban focus of Munich from the original center to the Residenz. Demolition of the Schwabinger Tor , formerly part of the Munich Fortress, construction of the Feldherrnhalle ( modeled on the Florentine Loggia dei Lanzi ) was not carried out until 1841-44.

At the same time, Ludwig commissioned his architect Gärtner to carry out the planned Siegestor 1 km away from the Feldherrnhalle in order to provide a representative end of the street at both ends . The concept, based on the models of the metropolises of Rome, Florence and Paris, envisaged closed rows of houses and blocks of buildings along the future boulevard as square walls.

To finance the royal highway , public and semi-public institutions were now forced under pressure from the king to fill the long streets. King Ludwig also forced the municipality to finance the construction of the Ludwigskirche , for which they had to borrow heavily. More precisely, under threat of moving the residence and university elsewhere, the city gave in. The repayment of the French loans brought the city to the brink of financial ruin .

Odeonsplatz and Wittelsbacher Fürstenweg – the Brienner Straße

From the Munich Residenz to Nymphenburg Palace there was a direct connection known as the Wittelsbacher Fürstenweg - Bavaria's regents used to be driven in horse-drawn carriages from the Residenz to Nymphenburg Palace.

Under King Ludwig I, this Wittelsbach Fürstenweg was expanded and completed as a westbound axis to Brienner Straße . Ludwig I implemented his ideas of an "Athens on the Isar" above all on Königsplatz . Glyptothek , antiquity collection and Propylaea are testament to King Ludwig I ' enthusiasm for Greece and the reign of his son Otto in Greece .

Munich – Tradition and future go hand in hand

Königsplatz with Glyptothek

Karolinenplatz was designed as a radiant square between Ludwigstrasse and Königsplatz. With these and other squares, the architect Friedrich Ludwig Sckell interrupted the rigid grid plan of Maxvorstadt and created a rhythmic effect on the boulevard .

Malicious about the "Hosentürl-Gothic" - the Maximilianstrasse

​Maximilianstrasse is another of Munich ’s four boulevards and was laid out between 1851 and 1874. The spacious boulevard with the Maximilianeum as the end and culmination point (a popular foundation that should help talented Bavarian youths of all classes to study) built the bridge over the Isar.

King Max II wanted to memorialize himself in Munich with a boulevard similar to Ludwigstrasse, following the example of his father, King Ludwig I. With this project he also wanted to implement his idea of ​​a new architectural style for the facades .

A new development axis towards the east was deliberately chosen and according to the king's idea, the best elements of historical models, the lovely forms of the alpine mountain huts should be combined with modern construction technology .

The height of the buildings was determined by the royal lamb's lettuce - even when the sun was at its lowest in winter , it was not allowed to stand in the shadow of the houses. What emerged from the cornices, pointed arch friezes and English-Gothic elements was exposed to unbridled ridicule. His father Ludwig I said very briefly: " Ugh, devil "...

The pressure on King Max II because of his street was ultimately so great that ultimately the architect Bürklein was made the scapegoat , from whom all further orders were withdrawn, and he died after a nervous breakdown at the age of 59 . Nevertheless, it is unique for Munich from an urban planning point of view. Today it is a sophisticated and exclusive shopping mile .

Three kings for the new cityscape

Between 1806 and 1864, three kings were involved in shaping the townscape as builders and sponsors . Most of all, Ludwig I and his architects shaped the image of royal Munich through a harmonious architecture that followed the rules of historical style ideals.

Phase 3: Abandoning the fortress ring is like preparing the way for industrialization

Transfer to the university and foundation of the TU

In 1826 King Ludwig I brought the University of Landshut to Munich with one of his first official acts . In today's main building, designed by Friedrich von Gärtner, the university has been in operation since 1840 . King Ludwig I and even more so his son Maximilian II promoted science and brought researchers and inventors to the Bavarian capital in a targeted manner .

The founding of the Technical University in 1868 by Ludwig II are further milestones in this educational policy in order to compensate for the remoteness of raw materials and transport routes through this locational advantage in development . The cornerstone as a center for applied sciences and the basis for the research and development departments of large companies was laid. These still characterize the economic structure of the city of Munich today.

Population explosion leads to housing shortage

Between 1885 and 1905 Munich's population doubled from almost 262,000 to 539,000 . In a short time, the Wilhelminian style quarters with large apartments that are still popular today emerged around the city center, but there was still a lack of small, inexpensive apartments . To avoid vacancies , these were then occupied by several families , who then had to share the kitchen and toilet.

Around a quarter of Munich households lived in these so-called part apartments, and often only sleeping places were sublet to so-called sleepers .

Railways and trams - the motor of industrialization

The construction of the railway line from Munich to Augsburg marked a new milestone in the development of Munich. The railway connected Munich, which had hitherto been off the beaten track, with the sources of raw materials and markets in Central Europe . The start as the future center of European goods handling and transport hub in southern Germany had taken place.

As a fast and inexpensive means of transport , the tram expanded the radius of action of the city dwellers by leaps and bounds. This supported the city's growth in area .

City sanitation and sewerage

As early as 1811 there were the first canals for sewage disposal in Munich. The first underground sewer in Munich from Promenadenplatz to Hofgraben was built in 1811 for 50,000 inhabitants at the time . Over the next few years, a further 20 kilometers of canals were built, randomly distributed throughout the old town.

Waste, rubbish and faeces still mostly ended up on the streets, sidewalks and in toilet pits . Bacteria and pathogens got into the subsoil and the groundwater. Mass diseases and high typhoid mortality were the result.

As early as 1836, the doctor Max von Pettenkofer sees the main cause in the unhygienic conditions and is committed to orderly water supply and sewage disposal . Unfortunately with moderate success, larger projects were postponed due to lack of funds .

In 1874 the English engineer J.Gordon was commissioned with a " general project for the canalisation of the city of Munich". He skilfully used the north-sloping terrain profile , allowing for natural drainage.

5 million cubic meters of rubble

Five million cubic meters of rubble had to be cleared away in Munich. Only 25,000 of 257,000 apartments remained undamaged. 264,000 residents were homeless. 35 percent of all shops were in ruins.

Only 20 years after the end of the Second World War , awarding the games to Germany was a remarkable opportunity that Munich and Germany wanted to seize. So the games were deliberately an alternative to Hitler's 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. No monumental productions, but cosmopolitan, friendly games were intended to convey a completely different image of Germany - which was successful, even despite the assassination attempt on the Israeli Olympic team by the Palestinian terrorists.

According to Merk, the fact that the Munich Olympic facilities were built on top of war debris has an additional, incredibly strong symbol of peace .

1972 Summer Olympics – the leap forward

The city was awarded the contract in 1966 . Munich was facing a comprehensive modernization , before a turning point. The reconstruction phase after the war was largely complete, the population rose sharply and cars were backed up on the narrow streets of the old town

The decision in favor of Munich as the venue for the summer games acted like a catalyst , an accelerator. Visions could now quickly become reality, and the money to implement the individual points of the plan flowed. Planning processes that otherwise take forever gained momentum . The time it took to expand the U-Bahn and S-Bahn system, to set up the pedestrian zone in the city center, to build new apartments and roads was significantly reduced.

A new infrastructure was created in record time.


Of 50,

80331 Munich

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

You might also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Never miss a good story!

 Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest trends!