December 27th


Munich – From a market town to a residential city

By Frank

December 27, 2023

Emperor Barbarossa first supported the machinations of Henry the Lion and gave "Munichen" market rights. The former monks' quarters become a trading town .

In 1175 , Henry the Lion had city fortifications built || However, the Duke is later banished to England because he refuses to follow the emperor After the Regensburg arbitration, Bishop Adalbert of Freising becomes the new master of the "villa Munichen" || Munich was ruled from Freising for sixty years (1180 to 1240) || Merchants settled there and as early as 1190 the “ Mercatores de Munichen ” were supplying the Schäftlarn monastery with cloth

The Freising bishop retained his claim to the Munich bridge toll, but in 1240 AD he handed over control back to the Wittelinespachers . Just fifteen years after this change of power, the 'Alte Veste', then Heinrichsburg, probably became the permanent seat of the Wittelsbach family and the "civitate Munichenin" became a residential city for the first time .

In 1255, the two ducal brothers Heinrich and Ludwig divided the Duchy of Bavaria between themselves . In addition to the partial duchy of Lower Bavaria, the partial duchy of Upper Bavaria is founded with its capital in Munich . Under Duke Ludwig II, Munich was no longer just a town and trading center, but also the official seat of a sovereign .

A ducal capital attracts more people. By 1315, Munich's population increased fivefold ; by 1504, 13,500 people lived in Munich. In 1328 the emperor even resided in Munich . The flourishing city rises from ducal to imperial residence .

AHA, cool...

Munich city fortifications

Map of city fortifications

Map: Course of Munich city fortifications Source Süddeutsche Zeitung November 2020

Today we would probably call it the city of short distances || High boots were probably the order of the day and a certain tolerance for bad smells - different hygiene standards prevailed in medieval cities Munich covered a mere 17 hectares , today there are 31,000||

In the Middle Ages, the city wall served primarily to protect against enemies who wanted to attack or conquer the city In the event of a defense, every citizen had the duty to take up his post at the wall and defend the city against the attackers|| The city gates were not only access to the city, but also customs collection points , especially at the main gates such as Neuhauser Tor, Sendlinger Tor, Isartor and Schwabinger Tor, as the traders came through them and the salt carts also came through the Isartor The city gates were locked at night||

Less than 100 years after the first city wall was completed, Munich was already bursting at the seams; an expansion of the city area and thus a second city wall were necessary . Construction began in 1253 and was completed in 1337 with the completion of the Isar Gate.

The Munich city fortifications were a system of several city walls, ditches and bastions with which the city of Munich was surrounded throughout its history. As early as the 12th century, a circular wall with a moat in front was built around the young settlement.

When this ring became too narrow, the city was first expanded towards the Isar into the valley in the early 13th century, which was probably only fortified with a moat and wall system, and then in the late 13th to 14th centuries second expansion in all directions and the construction of a second circular wall with a moat. This wall was reinforced by a kennel wall at the beginning of the 15th century. A wall fortification was built around this double wall ring in the 17th century.

The Isartor is by far the best preserved Munich city gate It is the only one of the three remaining gates that still has its large gate tower || The fourth main gate, the Schwabinger Tor on today's Odeonsplatz, no longer exists For example, the Kosttor , after which a street near the Hofbräuhaus is named, or the Entrance Gate , through which you could still get into the city at night for a fee

sendlinger Gate

Sendlinger Tor with Sendlinger Straße in the background

sendlinger Gate

Today, when you drive or walk into a city , you can see from the town sign that you have crossed the city limits. In the Middle Ages, however, you had to pass through the city gate . Access control took place here. Poor people, beggars, sick people, unfree people and old people who did not belong to the city's legal area could be turned away.

The city fortifications, which consisted of not just one but several walls, ditches, bastions and ramparts, separated the city from the countryside, allowed customs duties to be collected, served as protection to ensure security for the city and to ensure the rule of the respective duke or duke To portray the king impressively .

The bricks used were constructed as a double-shell brick wall. This means that two walls were built a short distance apart. The resulting gap was filled with a mixture of gravel and mortar. Overall, the wall was now around 1.70 to 2 meters thick and 5 to 6 meters high .

In the Middle Ages, a city without a city wall remained a village - but Henry the Lion's plans required Munich to be recognized as a city.

As part of the major city expansion by Ludwig the Bavarian, a second city fortification was built between 1285 and 1337, as part of which the Sendlinger Gate was built. The Sendlinger Tor is one of three preserved gates in Munich's old town and was part of the second city expansion in the early 14th century.

You could get into the city through five gates. The Sendlinger Tor in Munich is the southern city gate of the historic old town. A highlight is the fountain at Sendlinger-Tor-Platz . The facility and its pool have a diameter of over 18 meters and cover an area of 320 square meters. Five fountains , which reach a height of approx. 3.50 meters , are grouped around a sixth in the middle.

Karlsplatz - Stachus

Karlsplatz – affectionately known as “Stachus” . One of the most important squares in Munich is officially called Karlsplatz.

Locals affectionately call this place “Stachus”. It is probably unique in the world that a particular place is only shown on the city map with its nickname .

Karlsplatz is located at a point over which the Salt Road, which Duke Heinrich the Lion had laid from Föhring to Munich, ran in the Middle Ages . The people of Munich owe their existence and prosperity to this decision.

Beneath the surface of the Stachus is, in addition to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn, the largest underground structure in Europe - a shopping center. There are catacombs of enormous dimensions beneath the surface. 350 meters long, 150 meters wide . Four full floors, the fifth a partial floor, the sixth a smaller area for the groundwater and wastewater systems.

The loading yard on the second basement floor is 3.4 meters high , which means that 16-ton trucks can also go in there to deliver to the shops. In addition to workshops, the third and fourth basement floors also house the Stachus parking garage with 700 parking spaces .

Almost 100,000 square meters of space , pipes and corridors. That's 13 football fields ... 500,000 cubic meters of enclosed space corresponds to 800 single-family homes. The escape routes alone measure 7.5km .

The most important shopping street in Munich is without a doubt the pedestrian zone between Karlsplatz (usually called Stachus) and Marienplatz.

Karlsplatz with fountain

Karlsplatz with fountain


Flowing Munich ancient rock - Selenca Quelle

Brass music, Schuhplattler, Oktoberfest, it's all as inseparable from Munich - as beer. Some of the best-known breweries come from the Bavarian capital. But really good beer has apparently only been brewed in Munich since the 19th century.

Above all, one natural fact is said to be decisive for the quality of Munich's beer products: a river flows beneath Munich, and far beyond the city limits, which is up to 2000 meters deep in some places. It has two advantages: Firstly, it is the last drinking water supply in the Munich city area that can be used in an emergency. On the other hand, the Munich breweries get their brewing water from this source. Water pipes lead around 180 meters through Munich's gravel plain to the highest quality drinking water.

At the end of the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago , the Munich gravel plain was formed from clay and rock. This natural protective layer protects the untouched, Ice Age glacier water from man-made contamination at great depths to this day. By the way, the river does not simply consist of “normal” drinking water. Rather, the brewery's source is Ice Age water left behind by the melting glaciers. This means that the river is a few years older than the art of brewing: a Munich veteran. (Selenca source)

The Ice Age deep water has been protected from man-made contamination for thousands of years. The pollutant and radiation levels are still below the detection limit and are regularly checked by independent institutes. Through precipitation, the epochal water masses receive new and naturally filtered inflow: rain that falls today will have arrived in this water reservoir in around 5,000 years . Enriched with the various minerals from the rock that the water passes along the way.

The regeneration of the water resources of the Munich gravel plain began with the rains thousands of years ago and continues continuously.

Turn up your nose

It's good that there was Maria Anna of Saxony , the wife of the Bavarian Elector Max III. It is thanks to her that the hanged men were buried on Galgenberg (Landsberger Straße / near Hackerbrücke) from 1774 onwards. Previously, the custom was to just leave the poor guys hanging until they fell off on their own. A macabre and entirely unsavory affair.

But at some point the Miss von Saxony had enough of having to turn up her nose every time she passed the Galgenberg in the carriage for country trips. So she arranged for a proper funeral, even for the hanged men. One day in particular probably contributed to this: once, no less than 17 rotting corpses were hanging on the gallows hill at once.

What's exciting to see?

Palace of Justice

Munich - From a market town to a residential city

Palace of Justice opposite Karlsplatz

Built in the neo-baroque style, the Palace of Justice with its 67 meter high glass dome is one of Germany's most beautiful judicial buildings. It was built between 1890 and 1897 according to plans by the Munich architect Friedrich von Thiersch in the style">neo-baroque style. With its majestic glass dome, the Palace of Justice dominates the cityscape on Karlsplatz.

Exhibitions with a connection to the judiciary occasionally take place between impressive staircases and three large arched windows. The Palace of Justice itself gained notoriety in 1943 through the White Rose trials . The Nazi resistance group around Hans and Sophie Scholl came to an end here with several death sentences. In the hall of the first trial, a permanent exhibition commemorates the trials.

Old Botanical Garden

old botanical garden with Neptune fountain in front of the Palace of Justice

Old Botanical Garden

The Old Botanical Garden was designed by the landscape architect Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, and the site was completed in 1812.

On the occasion of the First General German Industrial Exhibition in 1854, Maximilian II had an exhibition building built by the architect August von Voit on the site of the Old Botanical Garden. Since the building consisted only of glass and steel beams (with a total weight of over 1,700 tons), it was called the Glass Palace .

The palace was built from standardized parts in just 6 months. The building, built on a symmetrical floor plan, had one to two floors, was 237 meters long, up to 25 meters high and up to 67 meters wide. The building burned down in 1931, but the causes are unclear. Over 3,000 paintings were destroyed.

The Neptune Fountain , located at the height of the Palace of Justice, forms the centerpiece of the Old Botanical Garden . The architect Oswald Bieber placed the basin in the axis of the Palace of Justice. In the middle of it, Josef Wackerle created a sculpture fountain as part of the redesign of the park in 1937. In the style of Michelangelo's David, Neptune shoulders his trident.

Wittelsbach fountain

Wittelsbacherbrunnen in summer

Wittelsbacher fountain

One of the most beautiful fountains in Munich , a successful urban and sculptural work of classicism with ancient elements by Adolf von Hildebrand, is the Wittelsbacher Fountain on today's Lenbachplatz.

The two main groups, on the left the man throwing stones sitting on his water horse , represents the destructive power of water , and on the right the water bull rider, the gentle one , with her large bowl, conveys the constructive power of water.

On the occasion of the construction and completion of the new Munich water pipeline, the decision was made to place a fountain on the section that was then part of Maximiliansplatz, today's Lenbachplatz.

The fountain monument was ceremoniously inaugurated on June 15, 1895.

Background: In the 19th century , Munich resembled a public latrine . Manure is stored or disposed of everywhere, and people suffer from typhoid and cholera . Max von Pettenkofer decides to change something. He makes hygiene a science.

Munich's problem at the time was its lack of history. While German cities with a strong Roman influence can at least show the beginnings of latrines and water supply concepts , the Bavarian royal residence is simply too young.

In Munich there is no running drinking water , waste and sewage are poured onto the streets, and feces are collected in large areas and transported to the fields by local farmers.

Pettenkofer recognizes: The city has to become cleaner. He turns hygiene into a science, researches people's living conditions and comes to the conclusion that improving these conditions is the city's task. He created the first sewer system and a central drinking water supply for 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).

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