Saturday, January 31, 2009

Munich Without Jews

One more note on yesterday’s post. The Munich Jewish Museum is currently showing an exhibit labeled “City Without Jews: The Dark Side of Munich’s History,” which takes a counter point of Munich’s 850 year celebration. In a time of reflection and celebration of the citiy’s history, the museum highlights what they call the 400 years where Jews were not allowed to live in Munich, tracing the reasons for their expulsion, persecution, and settlement prohibitions. Its hope is to show these events in a broader context, while linking them to specific sites in Munich. I have not yet been to the museum, but It sounds like a bold museum with one of its most daring exhibits to date.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Being Jewish in Germany

Now here’s an issue I know little about, but one where the emotions run very deep in Munich, Germany, and the rest of the world. This monument, one of several like it in Munich, commemorates one of the largest Synagogues that was burned in 1938 – like all the others in Germany. The Synagogue stood where Karstadt/Oberpollingr department store stands today, just inside the inner ring road of the altstadt. This is a topic of many books and debates (see Being Jewish in the New Germany that highlights this juxtaposition), as Germany is said to have the largest growing Jewish population in Europe. Who would have thought?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hand in Hand

Along the bank of the lake at the Olympic Park are more than 70 tributes to celebrities and “friends” of the Olympic Park as part of the Walk of Stars. In the model of the Hollywood walk of stars, Munich has done the same with these tributes. A precondition for being immortalized is that the personalities have been successful in the Olympic park facilities. Turns out, Bryan Adams has performed at the Olympic Hall 10 times to more than 100,000 fans across 20 years. At this rate, he’s sure to be considered a Munich native. Other famous personalities include the Dalai Lama, Elton John, Boris Becker, Carlos Santana, and Tom Jones. With more than 6 million visitors a year to the Olympic Park, this Walk of Stars is sure to be noticed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Looking to the Heavens

What does this church have in common with the new Rathaus at Marienplatz? It was designed by the same architect - Georg von Hauberrisser. St. Paul’s Church, next to the grounds of the Octoberfest, is no less stunning with it’s amazing spires & bell tower and its dominant position on Landwehrstrasse. It was constructed from 1896 to 1906, and is the beacon for anyone going to the Octoberfest celebration (as you can climb its bell tower during the annual celebration). But unfortunately, that beacon has not always shined so bright. In WWII, all of its stained glass was destroyed and replaced very sparingly. Then on December 17, 1960, a US Airforce Convair 340 aircraft took off from Munich-Riem airport (east of Munich – home of the Munich Messe today), but lost power to one of its engines. Unable to maintain altitude, the plane hit the steeple of St. Paul’s Church and crashed into a streetcar, crowded with Christmas shoppers. All 13 passengers (University of Maryland students), 7 crew members and 32 people on the ground were killed. Today, you would walk in and not even wonder of its past. It’s a parish church, with all the weddings, christenings, and of course funerals you would expect.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shadow Puppets

Trees cast ominous shadows over the side wall of the Glyptothek museum in the Maxvorstadt neighborhood. On the wall of the museum are recasts of famous statues from the Archaic (700-490 BC), Classical (490-323 BC), Hellenistic (323-146 BC) and Roman (146 BC – 550 AD) periods – matching those kept inside. Within the walls, you will find rare statues of Medusa, Rondanini, as well as figures from the temple of Aegina. They were all collected to bring to reality the vision of Prince (late to be king) Ludwig I, who envisioned a “German Athens” to house the collection. Very little of the art was destroyed in WWII, thanks to an aggressive move project; but much of the building is recreated (25 years later) with Brick.

Monday, January 26, 2009

City Scene

I’m not sure what it is about this photo that I like so much. Is it the frenzy – quite usual for a Monday morning – of the street scene? Is it the fashionable woman – no shortage of those in Munich – walking across the street? Is it the University – one of the premier in Germany – in the background? I think it’s just the mixture of all these things mixed up into one photo (thank you guest photographer). This is City Life. This is Munich life.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rebuilding Our Lady

The Frauenkirche is no stranger to reconstruction, especially as it was nearly rebuilt after WWII when the roof caved in and one of the towers was badly damaged. And since work was completed on this project in the 1950s, it has seen several face lifts. The Munich Icon is currently going through another set of repairs, albeit much less severe. You can see one of the towers completely covered with scaffolding. The dome was oringally built in Saxon sandstone with iron anchor rings. At 99 meters tall, the towers will remain the tallest structures in the city, especially given the fact that the city of Munich passed an ordinance banning any structures above 100 meters tall.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Whole Lot of NOTHING Going on Here

I’ve spoken a few times about the need in Munich for conformity, and the need to follow the rules. The whole society seems to be built on the idea of order, as if everyone will (and they often do) abide by the rules. But even with that in mind, it still cracked me up to see this sign outside the amazing St. Peter’s church. The church is the oldest in the inner city, and it’s original settlement dates back to the 8th century. The sign seems to limit just about everything, and I haven’t quite figured out what that fourth picture is telling me to NOT do. Is it dis-respectful to have your hands in your pockets in a church. If so, it’s the first I’ve heard of it. At any rate, careful what you do (and don’t do) in Munich churches. It certainly doesn’t make you feel all that welcome, but perhaps after 1300 years, that is not their primary goal.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Move over Barack, Munich is saying let’s see Michelle. Once the inauguration was over, all the Munich newspapers turned to interest in Michelle. You could see headlines like Sexy, Sexy! And this one questioning if she will be the next Jackie-O. In all fairness, Obama-Mania has swept the world, and certainly has run through Munich. Europeans in general seem to be keeping emotion in check, with many of the people I have spoken to around Europe saying “let’s see if Obama can really make a difference.” Although many Americans would argue that Obama already has made a difference by giving many hope for the future (something super important for Americans, which many Europeans don’t understand), Europeans, in general, tend to be much more skeptical of government impact. In Munich, where you would not necessarily describe the locals as emotional, they are taking a wait and see approach to it all – and seeing more of Michelle seems to be what they like most.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Sweetest Place in Town

Honey House is one of the many unique stands at the Viktualienmarkt in the heart of Munich. In addition to honey, you may find all sorts of other treats – anything from liquors to candles, lotions to candies. Like most of the rest of the Viktuailenmarkt, everything is made and sold locally. Over the years, the market has transformed from a traditional farmers market to a popular market for gourmets. The prices are high, but you often get foods that you won’t find anywhere else in Munich. Given that Germany is generally not known for its cuisine – beyond Wurst and Schnitzel – it’s a great exception to find healthy, fresh foods. In total, you will find more than 140 stalls there. Thankfully, petitions to close the market and erect multi-storied buildings were avoided after WWII, thanks to significant financial support from the city of Munich.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Great Melt Down

As rains move in, all the ice that covered Munich and Bavaria seems to be melting away. The next few days call for temperatures right around freezing, but certainly not cold enough to re-freeze all the water ways. So for now, it looks to be the end of the Eisstockschiessen season for now. The sport, literally translated as Ice Stock shooting, is actually the Bavarian version of curling, and is played in Winter as well as summer. The sport is enormously popular in Germany and Austria, and actually was demonstrated at two Winter Olympic Games – in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 and in Innsbruck in 1964. The sport has origin in 16th century Scandinavian and Dutch history, but today is better known around the world as the sport of curling.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Supporting the Angel of Peace

A quick view on the base of one of Munich’s more prominent sculptures – the Angel of Peace. Situated on Prinzregenten Strasse, the tower and sculpture were erected in 1895 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Peace of Versailles and to honor the Bavarian army. The monument, consisting of a 75 ft Corinthian column and topped with a gilded bronze figure of an angel, was actually modeled after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory at Olympia. The monument stood unchanged until a restoration in the early 80s. The park land where the monument is situated is actually one of the nicest in Munich, with its winding path ways and views overlooking the Isar river The park was actually built back in 1857, when King Magmillian commissioned Carl von Effner to develop a badly eroded bank of the river, and transformed it into an unforgettable part of the city landscape.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Endless Energy

A little girl races across the steps of the E.ON Energie headquarters building on Brienner Strasse, somehow matching the endless energy from Europe’s largest privately owned energy services company. While providing power to more than 17 million people in 20 countries around the world, E.ON is by far the best known supplier of energy in central Europe. Known as one of the largest employers in Central Europe, with more than 87,000 employees, E.ON supplies more than 36 billion kilowatt hours in the region. Now that’s boundless energy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Along For the Ride

Despite temperatures reaching 6 degrees Celsius (44 Fahrenheit) today in Munich, locals dismissed warnings by the Red Cross and local authorities to stay off the ponds. This photo here shows a father and his daughter enjoying the remaining ice at the Lake House in the English Garden. It was so strange to see hundreds of people playing and skating on the ice, when a third of the lake had clearly thawed and had no ice at all. Temperatures are expected to sit around 2 degrees for the next few days, so we’ll see whether the ice ponds are here to stay or not.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Party at the TUM

What do you remember about University? I remember big parties, but I have to admit; I don’t exactly recall them sponsored by the University. That’s quite different at the Technical University of Munich, where apparently we just missed quite a rage. The annual New Year’s bash takes place in the cafeteria in building 9 on Theriesenstrasse, and apparently has three different types of music ( a mix of rock and electric Lounge) and plenty of bars. With more than 21,000 students, and a booming enrollment, they have reason to party. As they say on the banner – “As always, the party is legendary.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ice Palace

Welcome Back. Happy New Year! We returned to a very cold and very active Munich. As long as the sun was out, everyone was enjoying the outdoors. Hundreds of skaters came out to take advantage of the frozen canals in front of Schloss Schleissheim, just on the edge of Munich. It was as if it happened every weekend, with locals clearing off patches of ice to skate on. The palace made a great backdrop to the frozen weekend. And it seemed on every little pond, you could find a make shift hockey game or kids skating. The Schloss was built in the 1600s in French style. The Schloss is the length of 335 meters and encompasses enormous French gardens which line the canals. Although badly damaged during WWII, it was reconstructed in 1972 based upon ancient records. I hear, you could even skate on the canals leading up to Nymphenburg Palace, but we decided not to as they charged everyone and there seemed to be 10 times the number of people of Schleissheim. I’ll see you soon out on the frozen canals.