10 fascinating facts you almost certainly never knew about Munich

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 25 Jan, 2018 Updated Thu 25 Jan 2018 15:42 CEST
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The Bavarian capital is an absorbing city, full of unexpected surprises. So it wasn't easy to compress this article down into just our favourite ten facts.


1. One of the figures in a famous church fresco is holding a pretzel

If you look carefully enough at the frescoes inside the Heilig-Geist-Kirche on the Viktualienmarkt you will see a very Bavarian image hidden among the religious depictions on the ceiling - a man holding a pretzel.

The Brezenreiter (pretzel rider) is a rather unique figure from Munich history who was associated with the Heilig-Geist-Kirche. For around 500 years from the church’s consecration up until the start of the 19th century a horseman would ride through the city at night to dispense bread to the poor. But the tradition came to an unhappy end in 1801 when the horseman’s bread ran out and an incensed mob pulled him from his stead and beat him.

In the fresco, which depicts the building of the church, the figure is holding a pretzel in one hand and his horse's reins in the other.

2. At Goetheplatz, the party never stops
We can't promise that the locals always wear Tracht. Photo: DPA

At two underground stations - Odeonsplatz and Goetheplatz - classical music has been playing without pause ever since the year 2000. Twelve pieces of music - including Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Mozart's Posthorn Serenade - play on a continuous loop, repeating themselves every 300 minutes.

The Munich Transport Company introduced the music because it apparently makes commuters feel safer.

3. The rubbish bins are poster-proof

This is the type of hard-nosed attention to detail that you could only expect from an orderly city like Munich. All the public litter bins have bumps on their outer surface so that people can’t stick posters and rogue adverts onto them. We wouldn't want the city looking messy, would we?

4. A direct line to Mecca

Frauenkirche during Oktoberfest. Photo: DPA

We have a new conspiracy theory for Trump-supporting Americans to get worked up about.

Did you know that, if one were to draw a line between the north tower of the Frauenkirche and the spire of the Heilig-Geist-Kirche - probably the two most famous churches in Munich - the extended line would eventually pass right through Mecca? Well, it's true.

We demand to know whether Angela Merkel was in the vicinity of either of these churches on the night in 2015 when she opened Germany’s borders to refugees!

5. Munich is further south than Vienna

This one is a real mind bender. We tend to think of Austria as being a country wedged between Germany and Italy, and therefore definitively further south. Although this is party true, it also bends round to the northeast, where Vienna is located.

So while Vienna has a latitude of 48.2, Munich just beats it with a latitude of 48.1. If you were wondering, the Bavarian capital is also further south than Paris.

This all explains why Munich is such a sunny place to be. It has the second most hours of sunlight in the country after Freiburg.

6. Grammar, grammar, grammar!

Mötley Crüe. Photo: DPA

It appears that, as much as 1980s glam rockers Mötley Crüe professed to love girls, girls and more girls - they were really geeks for the idiosyncrasies of the German alphabet. If you have ever wondered why they have two umlauts in their name, it’s because they liked drinking one of Munich's best known beers, Löwenbräu.

According to lead singer Vince Neil this led to quite some confusion when they toured Germany.

"We put some umlauts in there because we thought it made us look European. We had no idea that it was a pronunciation thing," he told Vanity Fair in 2009. "When we finally went to Germany, the crowds were chanting, 'Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!'"

7. He got Muniched

Chelsea may have its gruesome smile, and Columbia has the dreaded necktie, but Munich has also been a byword for a gruesome type of punishment. In the past, to münchen someone meant to castrate them.

This is so well established that there is even a book called "Munich is another word for castration." Why this is so remains a mystery to us.

8. A jinxed link to rock?

Munich has several notable rock associations. It was in a night club in the Schwabing district in 1966 that Jimi Hendrix first smashed up one of his guitars, a routine that he later became famous for. This was also the last place that Kurt Cobain ever gave a concert. Freddie Mercury celebrated his 39th birthday in Club Paradiso (and reputedly loved the city) and Bob Marley spent some of the last days of his life at a clinic south of the city.

Given that all of these men died well before their time, we hope that Munich isn't jinxed.

9. The escalators move faster during Oktoberfest

They think about everything when it comes to public planning in Munich. The city authorities have apparently worked out that it they speed up the escalators in Theresienwiese U-Bahn station by 0.18 metres per second during Oktoberfest then they will reduce crowding. Let's just hope it's not too quick for the drunkards to be able to step off in time. 

10. We all have to start somewhere

Talking of Wiesn, a very famous son of the city got his start at the booze-athon. At the sprightly age of 17, Albert Einstein worked for a bit of extra pocket money at Oktoberfest in 1896. His worked involved screwing in light bulbs in the Schottenhamel tent and helping construct the first light installation on the festival grounds. In later life, most of the light bulbs that went on, did so inside his head.



The Local 2018/01/25 15:42

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