I will never forget the first time I came to Munich. The sun was shining, the people were stylish and the buildings were beautiful. It was love at first sight and I knew immediately: I wanted to study in this city one day. Nothing has changed in my love for this city since the first day.
The sun became a lifestyle, the stylish people my friends and the beautiful buildings a scenery for my life. One of the benefits of my studies in Munich was that I was able to learn more about this beautiful city and its diverse architecture.
Munich was first mentioned in a document in 1158 supposedly, the foundation of the city goes back to a settlement of monks. So it was not at all this atmospheric city from the beginning. In contrast, it was one of the smaller villages in Bavaria.
The oldest church in Munich, which dates from the founding period is the Peterskirche. Munich residents sometimes affectionately call it the “Old Peter”. The tower of the church is still one of the highest in the city center and offers a good overview of the old town.
The first extension of Munich took place in 1328 through a new wall ring. Already 100 years later this had to be strengthened by a second one. The Isartor, the Karlstor at the Stachus, the Sendlinger Tor, and the Löwenturm at the Viktualienmarkt date to this time.
In 1468, the foundation stone for the late Gothic Frauenkirche was laid. The rest of Munich was strongly influenced by the Gothic style at this time. Which was pretty common for bavarian cities, back then.
This changed after Munich became ruled by the Wittelsbach dynasty. Under Wilhelm IV and Albrecht V, the city became a center of the Renaissance. At this time the Hofbräuhaus, the Michaelskirche, and the Jesuiten Kolleg were built.
In 1648 the city opened up to the Italian Baroque. This was decisive for the construction of the Nymphenburg Palace, the first opera house, and the Theatinerkirche.
After the War of the Spanish Succession, a Habsburg occupation, and the exile of the Elector Maximilian II Emmanuel, the French Baroque prevailed at court. From this developed the so-called Bavarian Rococo.
Since 1802, Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell has left his mark on Munich. Starting with the transformation of the Nymphenburg Palace Park. From 1807 he developed the form of the English garden that still exists today. This was followed by the planning of Maxvorstadt as an extension of Munich. Through his planning, the expansion areas were brought together with the irregularly grown inner city. The atmosphere of Maxvorstadt is characterized by a Renaissance style.
Ludwig I had his architects Leo von Klenze and Friedrich Gärtner build classical buildings, such as the Glyptothek and Pinakotheken. He preferred monumental, horizontal, and uniform buildings. Cultural, ecclesiastical, and secular buildings characterize Ludwigsstrasse and the entire cityscape to this day. The Munich Residence, the Ludwig Maximilian University, the Ludwig and Theater Church, and the State Library are worth mentioning here. (BSBBayrischeStaatsBibliothek,2020)
Ludwig’s son Max II, on the other hand, was fond of the English Gothic style. He rejected the Italianate, Greek architectural style his father preferred. Inspired by this, the Maximilian style was born. The characteristics of the style are the skeleton construction, the pointed arched arcature as a leitmotif, the cladding of the facades with terracotta. This style characterizes Munich until today, especially the exclusive shopping street Maximiliansstraße.
The street was the first connection between Munich’s old town and the newly incorporated Haidhausen. In contrast to Ludwigstraße, it was to be lined mainly with private buildings, rented apartments, stores, cafes, restaurants, and theater halls and end at the new Maximilianeum.
In 1865, due to the growing population and enlargement of the city area, a new city hall was built. This was designed by Georg Hauberrisser, an architecture student at the time. (Muenchen.de, 2020)
Parallel to the construction of the town hall, the garden architect Peter Joseph Lennè designed urban planning plans for Munich. The city’s growth had accelerated due to industrialization and now had to be reorganized. In his planning, structuring and demarcation played a decisive role.
The grids he planned for urban expansion were divided by squares, avenues, and canals. He wanted to limit the uncontrollable expansion of the city by ring-shaped avenues and park sequences.
Munich and urban planning cannot be mentioned in one sentence without including Theodor Fischer. He was the designer of the Munich Staggered Plan from 1904, which was legally valid until 1979. This was based primarily on topography and historical traces.
Due to an economic upswing around 1900, the Prinzregentenstraße and -theater were built. The city district Schwabing became an artists’ quarter. The architectural style of Neues Bauen also had a representative in Munich in the form of the Post Bauschule. This cultural development suffered under the First World War and later under National Socialism.
After the seizure of power, Munich was to be extensively rebuilt under the architect Hermann Giesler. These plans were never completely realized. Only a few buildings, such as the Haus der Kunst, were constructed during that time. Nevertheless, the next decades changed Munich irrevocably. During World War II, about ninety percent of the old town was bombed. To this day, numerous memorials commemorate the victims of National Socialism.
In contrast to other German cities, Munich’s reconstruction was based on the historical model. One of the most impressive construction projects of the 80s was the reconstruction of the Olympic Park for the XX. Olympic Games. The architects used old debris to build the hilly landscape in which the buildings are embedded.
In 1992 the “Franz Joseph Strauß” airport was opened. Some new cultural buildings were built in the city center during the 2010s, such as the Pinakothek der Moderne, the State Museum of Egyptian Art, the Jewish Museum Munich, and the extension of the Lehnbachhaus. The city river Isar was restored to a near-natural state in places between 2000 and 2011.
Since a referendum in 2004, the people of Munich have spoken out against buildings that are over 100 meters taller than the spires of the Frauenkirche. Since then, no high-rise building in Munich has been built higher than that. Thus, the 291 m high Olympic Tower, built-in 1968, is the tallest building in Munich.
Today there is an increase in the importance of appropriation and urban production processes. This can be attributed to the fact that in Munich, many projects are densification projects. Through bottom-up, flexible, and dynamic planning, one tries to preserve historically grown structures and subcultures. The monofunctional streets for cars are being increasingly questioned.
For example, bicycle lanes are being installed and streets are being temporarily closed. In newly planned areas, car traffic is often largely dispensed with. Examples of new planning strategies are the Kreativ Quartier, Werksviertel, Großmarktviertel, and Viehhof. Which I also worked with during my studies.
Muenchen.de (2020). Landeshauptstadt München Baugeschichte (muenchen.de)
BSBBayrischeStaatsBibliothek(2020).„Das großartigste Gebäude in München“. Aus der Baugeschichte der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (bsb-muenchen.de)
Bayerischer Landtag(2020). Die Baugeschichte | Bayerischer Landtag