On March 24t the Munich Greeter invited once again to a public city walk. This time, we visited the Maxvorstadt neighbourhood – a quite young quarter considering that Munich has been officially mentioned for the first time in 1158. Plans to build the Maxvorstadt, however, only started in 1808 under the first Bavarian king, Maximilian I. Joseph. Nowadays, in the area between Odeonsplatz and Stachus, the English Garden and Schwabing a lot of (art) history, cosy bars and cafés can be discovered. Starting point of the tour was…
…the Alter Botanischer Garten (Old Botanical Garden)
It was in the Botanical Garden (inaugurated in 1812) , where king Max II. decided to build a glass palace for the first „Common German Industrial Exhibition“ in 1854. After the exhibition, the glass palace should be demolished – but this resulted to be too expensive. So it was used alternatively: Initially the military trained in it, later on, the glass palace became famous for housing exhibitions. There was also an art exhibition in it in 1931, when the building burned down – and hundreds of important painting have been heavily damaged or destroyed. Plans to rebuild the glass palace have been put aside after Hitler’s coming to power in 1933. He re-modelled the Old Botanical Garden according to his wishes: the Park Café, Neptune fountain and Kunstpavillon* (used for art exhibitions) have been built on his behalf.
Lenbach Gärten: High-end residential area
Only a few steps from the old botanical garden and not too far from the central train station with it’s grubby multicultural environment, the Lenbach Gärten are quite a contrast: Here you can rent luxury apartments for 4.000 to 10.000 Euro/month.
Whoever opts to live in one of the penthouses has no need to go to the supermarket or the pharmacy any more. Why going out when lunch can be served by the butler of the 5-star-hotel next door?
St. Bonifaz church: Last resting place of Ludwig I.
Just across the street St. Bonifaz* church with the tomb of Ludwig I. and his wife Therese can be found. One mentionable detail: Therese was protestant – burying her with her Bavarian and therefore naturally catholic husband caused quite some problems at that time.
But Munich citizens are creative and always find a solution: Therese was placed in a crypt below his burial place. Only a few years ago she has been given a better place to rest: Her grave can now be found inside the church walls in front of the king’s sarcophagus.
Königsplatz and Propyläen: Like Greece in Bavaria
Königsplatz is quite close to St. Bonifaz. The best way to get there is crossing the metro station Königsplatz, which is almost an museum: Wonderful sculptures are exhibited in underground showcases. Those figures used to be part of the Propyläen, the archway in the centre of the Königsplatz. When the exposure to weather and traffic started to cause serious damages, they have been moved to the warm metro station. The sculptures at the archway are mere replicas.
The Propyläen, which have been built on behalf of Ludwig I. to show the close connection of Greece and Bavaria, have been inaugurated 1862. In that same year Otto I., the first and only Bavarian king in Greece (and Ludwig’s son), was overthrown.
Lenbachhaus: Ikea style building extension
One of the most important, popular and nicest buildings in the Maxvorstadt is the Lenbachhaus*. The former living house of the painter Lenbach is now used as an art exhibition centre. Over the years, the building became too small, so an extension has been decided. The plans have been supported by the energy company Eon, whose headquarters are right next to it. However, the extension had to be built smaller than initially planned – Eon’s boss did not want to loose the scenic view of the Königsplatz. It was done as he wished. And the funny part: Shortly after this episode Eon decided to move its headquarters to Düsseldorf where the boss will have a new office – far away from the Lenbachhaus.
Türkentor: Last remains of the Türkenkaserne and exhibition centre
Across the museums quarter we continued to the Türkentor, the former entrance gate and last remains of the Türkenkaserne (Turkish barracks). It was here where the Royal Bavarian Infantry Lifeguards Regiment had been stationed from 1824 to 1918. The Türkenkaserne occupied the whole area in between Türken, Theresien, Barer, and Gabelsberger street. Initially, it had been planned even bigger – but Ludwig I. intervened because he did not want it to get too close to the Alte Pinakothek (the museum for Old Master paintings). Nowadays, the area houses the museums Pinakothek der Moderne (modern art), Brandhorst (private collection of modern art) and “Reich der Kristalle”* (mineral museum) and buildings of the Ludwig-Maximilians University.
Since 2010 the Türkentor is used as a common exhibition area for the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Museum Brandhorst. The installation “Large Red Sphere” can be visited for free.
The names Türkenkaserne, Türken street etc. (literally translated Turkish barracks and Turkish street) can be traced back to the times of Elector Max Emanuel (1662 – 1726): He wished to reach all his castles on the waterway and ordered the digging of a channel from the Residenz to Nymphenburg Palace. Turkish are said to have participated in the building of the channel – that’s why it became known as the Türkenkanal (Turkish channel) later on. The waterway has never been finished and disappeared entirely from the cityscape – only the name left traces.
Alter Simpl: Meeting point of the “Schwabinger Bohème”
After that much culture we got hungry and the Alten Simpl* seemed the best place to stop. About 100 years ago this was one of the meeting points of the so-called „Schwabinger Bohème“, where free spirits, art and poverty were closely connected. When money was spare, it was common to offer a poem or a painting instead. Among others, Ludwig Thoma, Oskar Maria Graf, Franz Marc and Franziska von Reventlow spent their nights here.
And Joachim Ringelnatz wrote: “Und mich zieht’s mit Geisterhänden, ob ich will, ob nicht, ich muss, nach den bildgeschmückten Wänden, in den Simplicissimus.”(And invisible hands pulled me to the richly decorated walls of the Simplicissimus, I had to go there, whether I wanted or not.)
*Link to German web page