Munich Greeter

What is…? – The Hirschgarten

There are a lot of things and places in Munich tourists heard of, but they do not exactly know what it is. The “Hirschgarten” for example. Let the Munich greeters explain it to you…

In a few words: The Hirschgarten is a park, located in the west of Munich, touching the disticts of Neuhausen, Nymphenburg and Laim. Hirschgarten would be literally translated in “deer/stag-garden”. This because of the main feature of this park – a fenced area where deer and sheep live.

Wild im Hirschgarten/deer in the Hirschgarten

Wild im Hirschgarten/deer in the Hirschgarten

It is allowed to feed the deer, but it seems they do not like old buns ;-). There are signs near the fence that show what is allowed to feed them. Especially for kids this is great fun. Directly next to the fenced area is the “Royal Hirschgarten” beergarden and Restaurant. It is said, that this beergarden is the largest beergarden in Europe with about 8.000 seats. The beergarden offers besides of the beer also traditional and typical bavarian beergarden food like Haxn (pork shank), Hendl (roasted chicken), Spare-Ribs, pretzels, Obazda and a lot more…. The beergarden serves “Augustiner”-beer, a traditional Munich brewery that still delivers their beer in wooden barrels. So when the beergarden is open you can watch the tapping of 200-liter-barrels a few times a day.

When you are not interested in, as the locals say “beergardening”, you can also walk through the about 40 hectare big park. Especially for kids it is great fun, because there are many playgrounds. Some of them are “adventure playgrounds” with slides, swings, carousels, climbing frames and more. And it is possible to make a barbecue there (in special zones). During the summer months you can see there a lot of families barbecueing in the park and having a picnic.

But also the history is quite interesting. The Hirschgarten was built in about 1720, but as a royal pheasantry. Later they also tried to grow hops for the breweries there but the hops had to surrender to one royal idea. As silk was very popular in aristocratic families, but very rare and expensive, in 1786 about 17.000 morus trees/bushes were planted and silkworms were imported to set up a silk production. This was unprofitable, so in the 1780s and 1790s the chief hunter was ordered to convert the area into a hunting range with deer. The duke opened the park also for the citizens and soon the chief hunter’s house became a small restaurant. And only a short time later a beergarden was installed. Until the second world war the deer ran through the beergarden and it was possible to touch and feed them (as shown in this picture from 1925). After the war the Hirschgarten was redesigned as a city park and the deer were put behind a fence next to the beergarden.

There are also some other interesting facts about the Hirschgarten:
Sometimes there are brown owls who live in the Hirschgarten. There are some pictures and videos in this photography-blog (only in german, but pictures say more than words).
About 300 meters south of the restaurant stood an obelisk shaped column that showed the visitors the age of the stags which can be recognised by the antlers (there were different antlers pinned on the column). The column was literally spoken, shredded during an World War II air raid, because of two direct hits by bombs. After the war the citizens forgot about the column. In 2009 a citizens initative had the idea to reconstruct the column but the initative bogged down.
In July there is a small festival in Hirschgarten, the “Magdalenenfest”. This festival took place in castle Nymphenburg, but was then transferred to Hirschgarten in 1930.
Under the Hirschgarten the Sanitation office built a huge rainwater retention basin to prevent street floodings during a huge rainstorm. It can be filled with 90.000 cubic metres of rainwater.