Crown Jewels – Part One

It was a bitter sweet moment leaving Garmisch and driving to Munich.  We all had such a great time exploring the Bavarian Alps and touring numerous churches, museums, castles, etc.  Leaving here was an indicator that my vacation time was winding down.  But at the same time, I was excited about exploring the crown jewels of Munich.

Before leaving, we stopped at the Kaserne Artillery Post Office and mailed some surprise presents to my family in Pennsylvania.  The roads were still a bit snow covered, but once we merged with the Autobahn, they were clear and we could increase our speed.  Our first stop in Munich was Marienplatz.  We were hoping to see the animated figurines perform at 1100 hrs.  It was my day for parking karma, because just as we caught a glimpse of the Town Hall structure (Rathaus), someone pulled out of a parking spot next to the street.

Much of Marienplatz is restricted to pedestrian traffic.  This massive plaza center was filled with vendors selling Christmas ornaments, jewelry,

Our friend Elaine March holds up a beer at Hofbrauhaus.

clothing, food, toys, and Christmas trees and was crowded with thousands of people and tourists.  As luck may have it, by the time we walked to the Rathaus, the 43 bells were chiming and in the center of the clock tower, the 32 Glockenspiel life-sized figurines appeared on a carousel wheel.  The characters tell two stories from the 16th century including knights jousting and the epidemic plague.    Notice in the picture the two tall towers in the backdrop of the Rathaus.  These towers belong to the infamous Frauenkirche church and these 2 icons make up part of the crown jewels of Munich.  If you haven’t figured it out, the crown jewels of Munich are represented by the centuries old churches, museums, and royal

Hofbrauhaus beer hall.

residences that survived World War II.  The interior of these monolithic buildings are also awe-inspiring.

Our next stop was the infamous Hofbrauhaus beer hall.  It is known for its gigantic mugs of quality made beer, but the building housing this landmark holds equal significance.  Its existence dates back to 1589 when it was the

Leonardo da Vinci's, Madonna of Carnation c. 1470's.

royal brewery.  The current beer hall was erected in 1607 and destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt.  This beer hall is also the location where Hitler and the Nazi Party used to hold their meetings and festivities.  The beer hall can hold up to 1300 drinking customers.  While we were there, we listened to the band play “Oompah” songs and heard some of the locals crooning out their favorite drinking songs.  Some of the wooden tables date back to 1897 and several are reserved for local customers.  In addition, they have a stein vault to secure the local’s favorite drinking stein.

After a great meal and some even tastier beer, we drove off to find the Alte Pinakothek Museum.  The car GPS is worth every penny we paid for it and within minutes after driving through some side streets and tricky intersections, we parked near the museum.  Parking is at a premium in Munich, but the further you get away from the city center,

Peter Paul Reubens The Lion Hunt c. 1621.

the more abundant parking becomes.

The Alte Pinakothek Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world and contains a vast collection of old master paintings.  These paintings date from 13th -18th century.  This museum holds masterpieces painted by world greats including Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Francois Boucher, and Spanish artist Murillo.  In addition it also houses the world’s largest collection painted by the prolific Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. It’s a very large museum and we

Downtown Munich lit up with Christmas lights.

spent several hours viewing paintings and with the aid of an audio device, we listened to the history and meaning of the paintings.  It was like taking a walk back into medieval and renaissance history.  I was also riddled and puzzled at times by the allegorical paintings in trying to decipher the metaphor the artist was trying to depict.   Liisa

Christmas tree at Marienplatz at night.

and I visited one room that displayed the raw materials the artists used to create the colorful hues in their paintings.  Unfortunately it was all labeled in German, but we could recognize some of the more common items.

By the time we left the museum, the sun was setting and we hadn’t checked in our hotel yet.  We were staying at the Hahn Hotel.  This is a family run hotel and located just outside the city center.  It’s a great place to stay and the hospitality displayed the employees and managers are unsurpassed.  They went out of their way to be of assistance and even encouraged us to use their dining room to enjoy our bottle of wine.   They also gave us personal instructions how to use the tram and subway system.

After a local Bavarian meal, we returned to Marienplatz via tram.  It was all lit up.  Some of the structures had Christmas lights illuminating their outline.  An ice skating rink was open and people were skating to the sounds of popular American tunes.  In the middle of Marienplatz, the town hall was lit up along with a giant Christmas tree.  The vendors were still hawking their wares too.  After a cup of hot wine, we perused through some of the shops before returning back to the hotel and calling it a night.

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