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Munich, capital of the state of Bavaria, is steeped in history and one of Germany’s top tourist destinations.
It is also a powerhouse and symbol of modern German prosperity and innovation. In this cosmopolitan city within easy reach of the Alps, business and expatriate communities mix with students, artists, writers and performers. Yet Munich remains unmistakably Bavarian, thanks to its beer halls, gardens and local traditions, best encapsulated in the famous Oktoberfest.
The pedestrian area around Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and site of several important buildings.
In the centre of the square stands the statue of the Virgin Mary after which Marienplatz was named. Nearby is the Frauenkirche, Munich's 15th century cathedral with its typically Bavarian onion towers, while a short walk away is the world-famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall.
Munich has a wealth of museums and galleries.
The Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek house fine collections of art from the 14th century onwards. Experience the world of science and technology at the Deutsches Museum, and for a sense of modern Munich, visit the BMW Museum whose headquarters are based in the city. The building itself is designed to resemble a 4-cylinder engine. The 1972 Olympic Park is within walking distance and its Tower offers panoramic views of Munich.
The Oktoberfest dates from the 18th century, when Crown Prince Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen at a party that lasted five days.
The locals enjoyed it so much, they repeated it the following year! Today, the beer festival stretches over 16 days and attracts around 6 million visitors. Taking place on the Theresienwiese, it features giant litre tankards, much Bavarian singing and dancing and a host of fairground rides. The beer served at the Oktoberfest must come from one of the six Munich breweries and is specially brewed for the festival.
From bustling beer halls to modern bars and dance clubs, Munich has a rich nightlife and the mix of foreigners and locals give the city an international vibe.
The two main nightlife areas are Schwabing, where most of the city's popular live music venues are found, and Kunstpark Ost, where restaurants, clubs and bars line the street.
Munich plays host to several major sports events throughout the year, including football, horse racing, tennis, and golf tournaments. For those who like to be active there are plenty of opportunities in the many sports clubs and countless parks or, within easy reach of the city, Bavaria’s beautiful lakes.