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Bavaria emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as the largest German state in central Europe, having acquired new provinces and having been granted the status of a kingdom (1806). Centralization of the state administration in Munich brought new inhabitants and new functions to the growing city while the new design of its urban architecture embodied & enhanced the prestige of the entire kingdom. As a counterpart to bourgeois Marienplatz, the Residence became a focal point of the royal capital, with the creation of spacious open areas surrounding it, gradually evolving into today’s Max-Joseph Platz with the construction projects of the National Theatre on its eastern side, the Königsbau (kingly building) modeled after the Palazzo Pitti in Florence on its north (the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty are kept there today), the Corinthian colonnade on its south as well as the remodeling of the Palais an der Oper façade, all built before 1830.

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In 1821 Munich becomes the seat of the new archdiocese of Munich & Freising with Frauenkirche becoming the official Archbishop’s Cathedral while in 1826, following the orders of King Ludwig I, the University of Ingolstadt moves from Landshut (where it had been relocated in 1800) to Munich, bestowing the Bavarian capital with the status of a religious and intellectual capital as well as a political one. The University would be known as the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

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King Ludwig I’s (1825-1848) admiration of ancient Greece would instigate a wave of neo-classical architectural spree this time that would give Munich the nickname of “Athens of the North”. The Doric Temple-style Ruhmeshalle with its exquisite Bavaria Statue, the first of such proportion to be created entirely by cast bronze since antiquity, the Ludwigstrasse & Odeonplatz, Königsplatz with the Ionic Glyptothek, the Doric Propylaea & the Corinthian State Museum of Classical Art, the New Glyptothek, all reshaped the cityscape of Munich that was transformed into a neo-classical gem with an even more distinct identity.

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In 1835, the festival organized for the first time back on 17 October of 1810 on the expansive meadow in front of the city gates, as a sideshow of -still a Prince then- Ludwig I’s wedding, which initially included a children’s carnival, horse rides, games and a week of free beer, designated as a Volksfest (people’s festival), had already evolved into a national Bavarian festival known as Octoberfest that attracted more than 100.000 visitors who consumed more than 250.000 liters of beer.

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As the city approached the industrial age its population increased exponentially, reaching 100.000 in 1846 & 170.000 in 1871. The introduction of the railways in 1839 & King Maximilian II’s (r. 1848 – 1864) promotion of science, industry & literature, initiated a new bright era for Munich that reached its apogee during King Ludwig II‘s term (1864-1886).

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The Royal Avenue of Maximilianstrasse with the grandiose Maximilianeum (today housing the Bavarian parliament), the Museum Fünf Kontinente (Bavarian State Museum of Ethnology) & the Bavarian National Museum, the Gärtenplatz Theater, the city’s second Opera House & the Technical University of Munich, were all completed before 1875.

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The kingdom of Bavaria was subjugated by Prussia in 1866 & then absorbed into the German Empire in 1871. Nevertheless, it experienced an extraordinary momentum of cultural growth with world-famous artists like the composer Richard Wagner making Munich their home base. The quarter of Schwabing around the turn of the century, became an artist’s quarter with a multitude of brilliant writers like Thomas Mann & painters like Wassily Kandinsky turning it into an iconic hub of the avant-garde & the bohemian.

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The first years of the 20th century could in no way predispose the residents of Munich for the tumultuous years lying ahead. The founding of the Deutsches Museum in 1903, the world’s largest museum of science & technology, emphasized the city’s new orientation towards the new industrial and scientific future. The Central Railway Station now had 22 tracks and handled 300 trains daily with thousands of passengers per day. The modern era had arrived.

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Many bright minds such as Albert Einstein attended the city’s schools & others such as Rudolf Diesel (invented the diesel engine), Wilhelm Röntgen (detected & produced X-rays) & Alois Alzheimer (psychiatrist that first identified the mental disease named after him), lived & worked in Munich. Even Vladimir Lenin (still Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov then) resided in Munich the first years of 20th century, where he published his famous “Iskra” newspaper & his most influential writing, the political pamphlet What Is to Be Done?, under the “Lenin” pseudonym in 1902.

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The havoc & destruction caused by WWI would produce social unrest in a manner that had never been experienced before in Munich, fueled even more by hunger and the division between left & right supporters. At the end of 1918 a march of 60.000 supporters of the Social Democratic Party ended at the gates of the Wittelsbach Residenz. It would mark the end of the longest ruling dynasty in Europe & the declaration of the Free State of Bavaria governed by the Revolutionary Workers Council in essence a Bavarian Soviet Republic (Räterepublik Baiern).

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The soviet state would prove to be short-lived & its governance violently disrupted after the assassination of its leader Kurt Eisner in February of 1919 and a lost battle given against 30.000 men of the right-wing paramilitary group of Freikorps who were aided by 9.000 men of the German military sent by Berlin in May of that same year.

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It was in this period, in this city that Adolf Hitler’s political career started to forge. Although born in Austria, Hitler had moved to Munich just before the outbreak of WWI where he joined the Bavarian Army, an experience that reinforced his German patriotism, that would be wounded by the capitulation of 1918 and shocked by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that followed. Hitler, like many other German nationalists, believed that the “undefeated in the field” German army had been stabbed in the back on the home front by civilian leaders & Marxist politicians.

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After the war Hitler returned to Munich. With no formal education or career prospects he remained in the army & in 1919 he became an intelligence agent with a mission to infiltrate a small & insignificant nationalist group, the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei  (German Workers’ Party) founded in Munich a few months earlier. Being a nationalist himself, Hitler’s attraction to the group’s anti-Marxist & anti-Semitic, nationalist ideas didn’t take long to resonate. He became a member of the re-named Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party) in September of 1919 and in March of 1920 he started working full time for the NSDAP in Munich.

Almost immediately Hitler became the party’s leading public figure & speaker, attracting large audiences all around Munich. As Germany’s economic problems deepened & popular disdain for the Berlin-led policies of the Weimar Republic, skyrocketed in Bavaria in 1920, in 1921, Hitler’s fiery propagandist speeches bore fruits. With the support of more than 3500 Münchners, Hitler was granted absolute powers as chairman of the party in July of 1921. By November of 1923 he already felt strong enough to stage a coup against the Bavarian government that would nevertheless fail & lead to his imprisonment in Landsberg prison, 60 km west of Munich. It was there that Hitler dictated to his fellow prisoner and future right-hand man named Rudolf Hess, most of the first volume of Mein Kampf , a book that would be published a few months after his release, in 1925, selling more than 220.000 copies.

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As a result of the failed coup also known as the Beer Hall Putsch (The coup had started from one of Munich’s largest beer halls, the Bürgerbräukeller /Putsch=coup ) the NSDAP party was banned in Bavaria. After his release, Hitler managed to persuade the Bavarian Prime Minister to lift the ban but he was still barred from public speaking until 1927.

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Hitler’s ambition sphere was now growing outwards & his vision of power grab had to pass through the national elections. The Great Depression of 1929 would pave the way for his electoral triumph in 1933. In March 1933 the Nazis swept the city’s elections with Heinrich Himmler becoming the chief of police in Munich. A few days later the first concentration camp of WWII opened its gates at Dachau, 16 km northwest of Munich, for anyone who opposed the Nazi dominated city council.

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Hitler’s love for Munich did not vanish after his rise to power as he often referred to the city as the capital of our movement. It was in the party’s headquarters in Munich that the British Prime Minister Chamberlain & the rest European leaders signed the so-called Hitler appeasement pact known as the Munich Agreement which ceded the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia to Germany on September 30th 1938. A month later in one of the biggest pogroms in history more than 30.000 Jews were arrested, more than 7.000 Jewish businesses & more than 1.000 synagogues destroyed throughout Germany in what became known as the Kristallnacht (crystal night or night of the broken glass).

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Although Munich wasn’t among the first cities to be hit by the allied bombings of WWII, in fact the nightmare of heavy bombardments was already raging for two years before Munich was hit, the final toll was too hard for Münchners to bear. More than half of the city’s architectural treasures were blown to pieces, over than 20.000 of its men lost in the battlefields & almost half (41% -337.000) of its civilian population had left the city.

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After the war a careful restoration of the historic center & its landmark buildings was set in motion. The reconstruction followed the original patterns of the damaged buildings. Despite the enormous cost the project brought the city back from its ashes.

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It didn’t take too long for Munich to stand back on its feet. The Bavarian capital quickly bounced back with the help of pre-existing companies that would become colossal in a few years like BMW (Bayerisches Motoren Werke), Siemens, & MAN SE that had their headquarters in Munich or companies like Allianz that were relocated to Munich right after the war.

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In 1957 the city’s population had already reached 1 million in an explosive rate of increase that would continue all through the 60’s & 70’s until it was finally stabilized in the 1980’s to about 1.300.000. The city’s growing importance in the German economy gave rise to its nickname Heimliche Hauptstadt (secret capital) in the decades after World War II, a trend that continued until present days with Munich ranking first among all other German cities in the financial indicators of 2014. Today Munich residents enjoy one of the highest qualities of life in the world, with low environmental pollution, one of the lowest crime rates in Germany and a thriving economy based in information technology, biotechnology, finance & tourism. For its high quality of life and safety the city is often referred to as Toy-town among the English-speaking residents.  Müncheners call it  Millionendorf , a word that translates into village of a million people. A modern “village” with a long, glorious history and a vibrant economy that makes its future seem brighter and more promising by the day.

 

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By 1609 Protestants & Catholics had formed rival political and military alliances throughout Germany with the Catholic League headed by William V’s eldest son, Duke Maximilian I, who took an important part in its formation & became the single most powerful Catholic prince in Germany after Emperor Ferdinand II. In 1610 Maximilian I orders the further enlargement of the Munich Residenz, the transformation of the Hofgarten (court garden) into a grandiose Italian Renaissance garden & the extension of Schleissheim Palace built by his spendthrift father as a country house at the end of his term.

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The first years of the war that finally broke out in 1618, between Catholics & Protestants did not have an immediate effect on Munich aside from the title of Imperial Elector that was taken from the Protestant Frederick V of Palatine & granted to Maximilian I, something that gave the Bavarian dukes the right to vote on the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. It also led to the expansion of the fortifications, the wall and moat, of which only sparse remains exist today. Things changed when the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolfus, fearing the annexation of the Protestant areas of Europe by the Catholic League decided to invade Germany in 1630 & after two resounding victories on the battlefield entered the German Rome in 1632.

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Although the citizens of Munich feared their city would follow the fate of the burned to the ground by the Catholic League Protestant city of Magdeburg (a year earlier), the Swedes respected the city and its citizens, with Gustavus Adolfus appearing fascinated with Munich & the ducal palace. Of course the Swedish King had not visited Munich for site-seeing. The Swedish army agreed to leave the city unharmed only after the payment of a huge ransom which couldn’t be covered by the state coffers at the time. As a compromise the Swedish King authorized the abduction of several hostages until the money was paid along with 22,000 litres of the renowned Hofbräuhaus brown beer (Brewery established by William V in 1589). In a sense Hofbräuhaus beer would save Munich from destruction.

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The calamity that struck Munich as a result of the Thirty Years’ War didn’t come out of gun barrels. After the Swedish retreat in 1634, Spanish troops brought in to reinforce the city’s defense carried with them the Bubonic plague, which wiped out nearly one third of the overall population. After the disease had run its course, Maximilian I ordered the construction of the Mariensäule (Virgin’s Column — a statue dedicated to the Virgin) on Marienplatz as a votive offering to God for having spared the city from total destruction.

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Ferdinand Maria succeeded his father in 1651. A year earlier he had married the princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy . They would both bring Bavaria and especially Munich into the Italian Baroque era. In 1664 after the birth of their son Maximilian II, the couple commissioned the construction of Nymphenburg Palace based on the designs of the Italian architect Agostino Barelli, who had also taken over the building of Theatine church of St. Cajetan a year earlier. The Munich Residenz is expanded once more with the construction of the Golden Hall Building & the Papal Rooms while Italian influence expands in both architecture & entertaining with the introduction of Italian Opera & the array of Italian artists that were invited to court.

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The bloodshed in Europe was far from over with the War of the Spanish Succession breaking out in 1701 & Bavaria taking the side of France against the interests of Austria. The devastating defeat of the Franco-Bavarian army in the Battle of Blenheim on August of 1704 placed Bavaria & Munich under Austrian military rule before the end of that year.

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A year later, on November of 1705 in what was described as “the first revolution of modern history” a popular uprising that had started in the towns of Lower Bavaria against the Austrian occupation would end tragically in the night of 25 December 1705 near Sendling outside of Munich, with the Austrian troops massacring the peasant army of about 1100 men. The massacre became known as Sendling’s Night of Murder (Sendlinger Mordweihnacht) or the Sendling Christmas Day Massacre.

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In 1715 Maximilian II Emanuel with the help of the French finally managed to evict the Austrians but the heavy toll of the costly wars would be paid for years to come. The appointment of Joseph Effner & François de Cuvilliés as chief architects of the court marked the transition from Italian to French influence & the beginning of the Bavarian rococo era.

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The Nymphenburg Palace was enlarged considerably, the new Schleissheim Palace was constructed & the Fürstenried Palace was built as a hunting lodge while of course the tradition of additions to the Munich Residenz was followed by Max Emanuel as well. Charles VII took over Bavaria at his father’s death in 1726, with his term (1726-1745) marking the height of the rococo era for Munich. With François de Cuvilliés as head architect of his court, Charles would live up to the great architectural heritage inherited by his predecessors with the completion of Nymphenburg Palace, the construction of the elaborate Amalienburg, the building of the Ancestral Gallery & the Ornate Rooms in Munich Residenz & the Palais Holnstein as a present to one of his mistresses Countess Holnstein.

Charles VII took over Bavaria at his father’s death in 1726, with his term (1726-1745) marking the height of the rococo era for Munich. With François de Cuvilliés as head architect of his court, Charles would live up to the great architectural work inherited by his predecessors with the completion of Nymphenburg Palace, the construction of the elaborate Amalienburg, the building of the Ancestral Gallery & the Ornate Rooms in Munich Residenz & the Palais Holnstein as a present to one of his mistresses Countess Holnstein._Emperor_(by_George_Desmarées)Amalienburg Interior Hall of MirrorsAncestral Gallery Munich Residenz

Charles VII also followed the footsteps of his ancestors in his aim for an even higher rank than that of a duke, an opportunity that came forth after Emperor Charles VI’s death in 1740 & the complications that emerged in the succession of his daughter Maria Theresa to the imperial throne. In the War of the Austrian Succession that followed Charles VII allied with France and Spain against Austria & put his claim to the imperial crown forward as a male heir with a clear ancestry line in order to inherit the trust of the elected dignitaries of the great Imperial title. On January of 1742 the Bavarian Duke became the only Holy Roman Emperor that did not belong in the House of Habsburgs in over three centuries & the second to achieve it from the House of Wittelsbachs. However his achievement would prove to be void. Shortly after his coronation the Austrians would once more overrun Bavaria & occupy its capital. Charles would regain Munich three months before his death, on October of 1744.

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The 18 year old Prince Elector Maximilian III Joseph (r. 1745 to 1777) quickly abandoned his father’s imperial ambitions, made peace with Maria Theresa & tried as far as possible to keep Bavaria out of the wars. A charismatic ruler, Maximilian Joseph was just the person to help Bavaria & Munich enter the age of enlightenment that was dawning in the European continent. He quickly abolished the Jesuit censorship of the press, with an immediate outcome the founding of two new newspapers in 1750 & 1751; he established a new civil code with liberal reforms in every field of the state that would remain in use until 1900, he encouraged new industries (the porcelain factory in Nymphenburg is still operative today) & inaugurated Munich’s first secular academic institution, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He also regulated the general school attendance & ordered the construction of the amazing Cuvilliés Theatre, the Stone Hall in Nymphenburg Palace & the decoration of several rooms in New Schleissheim Palace, all in rococo style.

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During his reign the city opened its doors to playwrights & important composers from Europe with 18 year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performing one of his very first operas La finta giardiniera (The Pretend Garden-Girl) at the Salvatortheater in Munich in 1775. Max III Joseph died childless in December of 1777 & with him his branch of the Wittelsbach family. Charles Theodore from the Wittelsbach branch of the Palatinate-Sulzbach being the closest in line was chosen as a successor of a country he immediately showed to care very little about. Shortly after his predecessor’s death Charles Theodore signed an agreement with Emperor Joseph II to exchange southern Bavaria & Munich for part of the Austrian Netherlands. The plan was strongly opposed by Saxony & Prussia with a result the eruption of another war known as the War of the Bavarian Succession.

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Although Charles Theodore remained Duke he never managed to gain the support of his people or control the mounting social tensions. He even moved the Electoral in 1788 to Manheim after a dispute with Munich’s city council. Despite the mutual dislike between him & his subjects Charles Theodore managed to leave his mark in the city’s landscape with the creation of the English Garden, one of the world’s largest urban public parks & the dismantling of the old medieval fortifications which created a much needed space in the booming Bavarian capital & new squares including Karlsplatz.

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As if his political maneuvers weren’t enough Charles Theodore’s rule was characterized by a come-back of conservatism & repression of personal liberties with the most resounding moment being the disbanding of the famous today from the Dan Brown novels order of Illuminati in 1785. The illuminati was a group of intellectuals that projected the value of reason before faith, that had been established in 1777 in the University of Ingolstadt, a few miles north of Munich. Charles Theodore’s death in 1799 was followed by several days of drunken celebration by the people of Munich.

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In the fall of 1510 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther starts  his first & only pilgrimage to Rome on behalf of his monastery in Erfurt (400 km north of Munich). Seven years later, Luther discloses his 95 Theses, sparking the fire of the Protestant movement that would very quickly swipe the whole European continent. Southern Bavaria became a center for Roman-Catholic opposition to the Protestant Reformation in Germany & Munich its epicenter with William IV issuing the first Bavarian religion mandate banning the promulgation of Martin Luther’s works in 1522. 2 years later after an agreement with Pope Clement VII, William becomes the leader of the German Counter Reformation.

William IV of Bavaria was a great patron of arts with most of his collection now exhibited in the Alte Pinakothek of Munich, while his expansion & alterations of the Neuveste, the new fortress built at the end of the 14th century to replace Alter Hof as the Wittelsbach residence, began the history of the Munich Residenz, as it would be known in the future, as the largest city palace in Germany.

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The same policy was followed by William’s son Duke Albert V (from 1550 to 1579) both in religious & cultural matters. A strict Catholic in his upbringing, Albert became a champion of protestant repression because he was convinced  that Catholicism was inseparably connected with the fortunes of his house among other things. Churches were inspected frequently, Protestant literature was censored, the Protestant books were collected and burned in large bonfires while Bavarians were refused permission to study abroad in order to avoid any contact with the dangerous heresy. He also invited the Order of Jesuits to take over the administration of Bavarian schools & universities. A great collector of art Albert commissioned the construction of the Antiquarium in the Munich Residenz, the largest and one of the most impressive Renaissance hall north of the Alps, in order to house his personal collection of art, now the basis of the Wittelsbach antique collection of Greek & Roman antiquities.

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The burden of debt inherited by his father didn’t seem to discourage the Jesuit educated Duke William V (r. 1579 to 1597) in his plan to build the largest Renaissance-style Jesuit church north of the Alps. Michaelskirche (St. Michael’s Church), was conceived as the German counterpart to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Its expensive construction that started in 1583 along with the adjacent Jesuit College, the further extensions & lavish additions in the Munich Residenz & the funding of various Catholic projects outside Bavaria nearly bankrupted the Bavarian treasury.

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Between 1575 & 1590 about forty people were executed for protestant heresy while in 1590 the first witchcraft trials were held in the city. By the year 1600 more than 400 people had been arrested, hanged or burned at the stake while hundreds more had left the city. The Jesuits were not the only Catholics who flocked to Munich as Protestants left. The Capuchin Order was also summoned to fill in the void and a dozen more Catholic orders followed in the coming years, giving Munich the honorary appropriation of a German Rome.

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During the 1400’s Munich’s dependence on salt trade gradually decreased while trade with Italy, especially Venice, mainly of wine & textiles, started to take a more important role. Thousands of four-wheeled carts with various trading goods passed through the wall gates every year while a new prosperous cast of merchants started building its mansions in a manner that reflected its newly established affluence. The narrow streets of the city were paved & a series of landmark buildings such as the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) & Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) were completed. At the end of the 15th century Munich started to acquire the fame of a city of exceptional beauty with contemporary chroniclers describing it as “the most renowned city in Bavaria” & “first in beauty among German princely cities.”  It was also the period when Munich started to acquire the fruits of the first printing press, established in the city in 1482 by Johann Schauer. Five years later the First Purity Law of Brewing is adopted by the whole Duchy of Upper Bavaria. After 1503 the two branches of the Wittelsbach family were united under the Munich-born Duke Albert IV who ruled the reunited duchy from his native city. In order to avoid any future divisions, Albert decreed the everlasting succession by the firstborn prince for both parts of Bavaria in 1506. All younger princes were to be appointed counts by the oldest son. Munich would serve as the duchy’s capital and hence the place where the ruler would live.

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In 1516 the beer purity law applied to all beer brewed in the Duchy of Upper Bavaria since 1487 and the one applied to the rest of Bavaria since 1493 were combined into one single and powerful law that would have issue throughout Bavaria. The law strictly declared the ingredients & forbade the use of various supplements and preservatives. This was the first & oldest law regulating the quality of any consumable product in the world.

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In 1327 a great fire which would destroy a great part of the medieval city including Alter Hof & St. Peter’s Church and the outbreak of the of Black Plague in 1348 would not be enough to bring the city’s self-confidence to its knees. From then on the imperial colors of black & gold would be adopted by Munich in every city seal and emblem. The Emperor was a son of Munich after all. No obstacle could hold the imperial city down for long. The pestilence and the human losses it produced did however succeed in igniting religious prejudice with some of the residents insisting that the Jews were the ones who had brought on the disease, argument reinforced by a group of roaming radical penitents known as the “flagellants” (after the whip used by the Romans) who often blamed the Jews for causing the disease. The first pogroms against the Jews were organized in Munich in 1349.

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The silver lining of things came in the field of sanitation which was now a matter that prompted improvement, in the fire precautions that were standardized in the construction of the new buildings  but also in a sector that would be identified with Munich in the years to come. Up to that point in history beer brewing in Bavaria was not something the locals were particularly proud of. Bavaria was mostly known as a place of mediocre wines. The earliest breweries in Munich were associated with religious institutions & did not brew for people outside of their convents. With water out of the question due to the fears of another plague, special attention was also given in beer brewing. In 1363, to guarantee quality & purity, the Munich City Council took over the duty of supervising & regulating the production of beer throughout the city, a tactic which was also followed by the cities of northern Germany like Hamburg & Bremen producing some of Europe’s best beers at the time. Five years later, after 40 years of work the reconstructed church of Alter Peter opens its gates inaugurating a new era of optimism for the city.

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Munich’s distinction as the place of the official ducal residence had an immediate effect. It catapulted its population which increased five-fold between 1250 & 1300, while members of at least three religious orders established their monasteries, convents and hospitals within the city walls. Alter Hof in what was then the northeastern part of the city became the ducal palace & the chapel of the Virgin Mary (later Cathedral of Our Lady-Frauenkirche) was erected within the city walls to serve as the second city parish.

Louis II was the first to erect a second ring wall to include the rising population & its newly formed suburbs. The growth of the city & the rise of its status would become more clear however when Louis IV, later called the Bavarian, took over things in the beginning of the 14th century. Although second in line, the Munich born Louis IV managed to gain the support of his uncle Albert I, King of Germany who forced his elder brother Rudolf I “the Stammerer” to accept him as co-regent in Upper Bavaria in 1301. After King Albert’s assassination in 1308 the brotherly discord escalated into a civil war which ended in 1313 at Munich, with the peace agreement providing Louis the opportunity to secure his election as German King.

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A year later, in 1314 the first German Kaiser from Munich was crowned in Aachen, throwing the city into the forefront of German politics for the first time, despite the want of his envious brother. The ingenious Louis not only managed to hold on to the German throne after a bloody war with his Habsburg cousin & rival Frederick the Fair (Frederick finally recognized Louis in 1325 as legitimate ruler) but he also managed to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome in 1328.

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It was only natural that Munich would benefit from Louis’s success. The new fortifications, started by his father were completed in an expansion so generous that would encompass the city for the following 400 years; the Alter Hof became the permanent Imperial residence & most importantly the city gained a monopoly in salt trade with the route making an obligatory station in Munich. With the increase of trade, the Jewish presence in the city, already prominent in the 12th century, grew significantly, based on the credit, loan & money changing services it provided. In the same time it made Munich a favorable place for business & a center of trade in Southern Germany.

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Although the earnings from the toll-bridge went straight to the duke and the bishop the little settlement quickly grew to be a city, with the first fortifications being built and its official city status received by 1175 . In 1180 Henry’s refusal to assist the Emperor in the latter’s campaign in Lombardy would cost him his duchy, with Bavaria passing on the hands of Otto I Wittelsbach (his heirs would rule in Bavaria for 738 years, until 1918) with the exception of the newly established city of Munich which ironically enough passed in the hands of the Bishop of Freising. In 1188 the Bishop of Freising administers the construction of a new church that would be dedicated to St. Peter (known today as Alte Peter) The new church immediately became one of the main symbols of Munich. In the beginning of the 13th century the fortified Monk city was the home of more than 2.000 people with Marienplatz, the central square, a focal point of the old city to this day, acting as the main meeting point of its residents. This is where the traders coming from the Salzstrasse and the rest of the world flocked to sell their wares.

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In 1240 Munich receives its first town charter & passes under the direct control of Duke Otto II Wittelsbach the illustrious, making Munich an integral part of the Bavarian dynasty for the first time. The bond would last until the 20th century.

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The Wittelsbachs treated Bavaria as a patrimonial, family possession & acting on an ancient maxim of the Germanic law, the lands were divided among Otto’s sons after his death in 1253. In 1255 Louis II the Stern becomes the ruler of Upper Bavaria & the Palatinate of the Rhine and Munich becomes his headquarters while his brother Henry XIII takes Lower Bavaria. The distinction between the two regions is still made today.

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The word Bavarii comes from the Latinized words Baio-warioz = men of Bohemia that was used for the population of the Bohemian Forest, a territory inhabited by the Celtic tribe of Boii during antiquity (Bohemia = boio-hemum = home of the Boii).The region of Bavaria became part of the Roman province of Raetia after 15 BC. Augusta Vindelicorum, today’s neighboring to Munich city of Augsburg, served as the province’s capital.

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Bavaria became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom towards the end of the 5th century until it finally passed to the Kingdom of Francia in the first half of the 6th century. The 6th century was the period when the first sparks of ethnic awareness started to appear in the region. Bavarian ethno-genesis along with the Christianization of the population however were gradual and slow processes that would last well until the end of the 8th century.

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After the year 555 the region of Bavaria was ruled by the Frankish noble family of Agilolfings as a largely independent Merovingian vassal state. The city of Regensburg, 124 km north of Munich, served as the state’s capital. The semi-autonomy was abolished with the rise of the Carolingian dynasty after the year 716.

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Charlemagne’s grandson Louis the German, younger brother of Emperor Lothair I, made Bavaria his power-center & styled himself as King of Bavaria. With the division of the empire between the brothers in 843, Bavaria was incorporated into the kingdom of East Francia. A few years earlier, in the 8th century, a group of Benedictine monks had established their monastery on a plateau of 520 m (1700 ft.) altitude, 45 km (30 miles) from the Bavarian Alps, near the site where the city of Munich would later develop. It is unsure whether the birth of the city would ever take place if in 1158 Heinrich der Löwe or Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony (r.1142–1180) & Bavaria (r.1156–1180) hadn’t acted with the usual in those days imperiousness of the feudal lords when their own interest was on the line.

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The ambitious duke searched for ways to increase his income & saw a golden opportunity on the salt route followed by traders coming from the salt mines around Salzburg heading north towards Augsburg & further inland. Salt trade was among the most lucrative commercial activities in the Middle Ages, salt being the main means of food conservation.  The white gold traders needed to surpass the obstacle of the Isar River which was only possible through a toll bridge near Oberföhring (today part of the city of Munich) controlled by the Bishop of Freising (35 km north of Munich). Henry ordered the construction of a new bridge a few miles upstream from the old bridge, at the site of the present Ludwigsbrücke, adjacent to the Benedictine settlement. In the same time in order to gain the monopoly of the lucrative pathway he simply destroyed the old bridge.

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The matter reached Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa who in 1158 basically validated the actions of his cousin to whom he had trusted the Duchy of Bavaria two years earlier. The only condition was that one third of the generated income from the new tolls had to be paid to the keeper of the old bridge, Otto of Freising. Henry (the Lion) immediately granted the Benedictine settlement the right to establish a market and mint its own coins & thus a city was born. The place was initially referred to as zu den München literally meaning to the monks or bei den mönchen gradually becoming just München through the years. To this day the Benedictine monk remains the symbol of the city of Munich.

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Sofitel Munich Bayerpost is in the heart of the city, just 110 yards from Munich Central Station. The listed hotel building combines architectural style and cosmopolitan hotel culture. In our 396 rooms, 20 conference rooms and Nymphenburg Banquet Hall, the French way of life joins with Bavarian zest for life, finding expression in Our So SPA, the DÉLICE La Brasserie and our ISARBAR.

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One of the most traditional hotels in central Munich, the 4* Platzl Hotel is a short walk from Marienplatz, the Residenz Palace, the Bavarian State Opera and many other city highlights.  Despite the proximity of the hotel to the city centre, the journey to our superior hotel is both comfortable and uncomplicated. Location and comfort are just two reasons that make the 4* Platzl Hotel one of the best hotels in Munich city centre. If you’re traveling by car, there are parking spaces available in the underground car park. If you arrive by train at Munich’s main station (Hauptbahnhof Munich), you will have direct access to the U-Bahn (underground), which will take you to the hotel in a few minutes. The S-Bahn (train) also connects Munich Airport and the Platzl Hotel.

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This traditional four-star Superior Hotel and its two popular restaurants – the Pfistermühle and Wirtshaus Ayinger – are located in the heart of Munich’s old city, right beside the famous Hofbräuhaus. And just a short walk from the Marienplatz, the Bavarian State Opera, Maximilianstrasse and Viktualienmarkt. The Inselkammer family and its team combine Bavarian hospitality and traditional style elements with a modern lifestyle and state-of-the-art technology. It begins with a warm welcome in the foyer, continues through the 167 guest rooms and only ends when you leave Munich through the city’s historic quarter. This combination of tradition and modernity also creates the ideal setting for private celebrations such as birthdays or weddings, but also conferences and seminars.

Your visit should also include a taste of the culinary offerings at its two restaurants – because gastronomy has a long tradition at the Platzl. As early as the beginning of the last century, the Platzl stage was graced not just by cabaret giants such as Karl Valentin. Good Bavarian food also made repeat appearances, being served to guests before and after the performances.Today, the Pfistermühle is synonymous with sophisticated Bavarian cuisine – at Munich’s only preserved city mill. Since the year 2000, people from Munich and elsewhere have enjoyed the hearty regional dishes at Wirtshaus Ayinger, which is next door, while the charming stores and eateries in the “Platzlgassen” add to the lively atmosphere in the Platzl.

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