Munich was first mentioned in records in 1158. Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, established a toll bridge near a settlement of monks here and so Munich owes its name to the Middle High German word for 'monk'. A monk adorned the city's coat of arms as early as 1239.
Religion has always played a major role in Munich: numerous monasteries and churches in the city can be traced back to the Capuchin order that is still resident there today. Buildings such as the Renaissance church of St. Michael, which was built as the centre of the Catholic Counter Reformation in the late 16th century, or the landmark Frauenkirche cathedral are major elements in the cityscape.
Living in Munich
The English Garden, a public park in the northeast of Munich, is even bigger than New York's Central Park and is the ideal place to jog, cycle or go riding. There are many beer gardens where you can relax over a litre of beer and a portion of white sausage or you can enjoy the view of the nearby Alps from the Olympic Tower.
With Switzerland, Austria and Italy all nearby, a huge variety of day trips is possible including leisure activities such as hiking, climbing or mountain biking. In winter there are plenty of ski resorts for sports and relaxation.
Districts such as trendy Schwabing, lively Pasing with its turn-of-the-century villas and desirable Haidhausen offer a high quality of life. This also affects rents - housing is more expensive in Munich than in any other German city.
Typical aspects of Munich
When you think of Munich, the first thing that comes to mind is the Oktoberfest which - if you look closely - mainly takes place in September. The first festival was a horse race arranged on 17 October 1810 in honour of the marriage of crown prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Hildburghausen. These days, the Oktoberfest is a massive event featuring a huge number of tents, large and small, and drinking, singing and partying.
Understanding the Bavarian dialect is challenging, even for visitors from other parts of Germany as demonstrated by the existence of Bavarian-German dictionaries.
Although far from the sea, water sports enthusiasts will not be disappointed by the Bavarian state capital. In the heart of the city centre the Eisbach, the fiercest tributary of the Isar River, forms an artificial wave that is used by river surfers from all over the world.