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In Munich, it’s the mix that makes the message. Old meets new, past meets present and future, the modern blends harmoniously with the traditional, bits and bytes with beer, business and leisure. For the visitor, there is never any shortage of sights to see or activities to engage in.
The Bavarian Metropolis with its 1.54 million inhabitants lies virtually at the centre of Europe and is easy to access, either by high-speed trains, by motorway, or through a large international airport. It also has a dense network of modern and affordable public transportation, with buses, an underground system, trams and suburban trains.
All major sights are at walking distance from each other. As for the Alps, they are at a stone's throw and attract day-trippers all year round: in the warm season between May and September for paragliding, hiking, mountain climbing or mountain biking, and in the cold season between November and March for fun on snow and ice.
Year after year, Munich takes gold in German city rankings. When asked where they would prefer to live, most Germans say Munich. The reason is simple: a magic combination of a vigorous economy and top-notch leisure time activities and outstanding cultural offerings.
Three world-class orchestras, countless concert venues and a host of festivals ensure a constant flow of music of all styles, from classical to rock and passing by medieval. The city also has a wide array of museums, notably the three Pinakothek art museums exhibiting fine arts and graphic arts from six centuries all located within walking distance. Completing these three cultural giants is the Museum Brandhorst that features modern art. Science and technology have a worthy home in the Deutsches Museum on the Isar River, with two annexes: one in Schleissheim to the north of Munich devoted to airplanes, and one at the Theresienhöhe exhibiting all kinds of land transportation. The latest addition to the main museum is the ZNT, Center for New Technologies featuring Nano- and Biotechnologies. For a closer encounter with automobiles present and past, however, Munich-based BMW automaker opened the BMW Welt, which complements the company's state-of-the art museum.
To find out more about Munich itself, the place to go is the City Museum (Stadtmuseum), where the permanent exhibition “Typically Munich” tells the history of the city through a host of quirky and revealing exhibits. And for an even closer encounter with history, there is the mighty Residenz. Its richlydecorated rooms tell the story of centuries of rule by the Wittelsbachs. Their first residence was the near-by Alter Hof (Old Court), where the Information Office of the Bavarian Museums has a small museum and a film documenting the rise of this, one of Europe’s longest-ruling dynasties. The most famous member was no doubt Ludwig II, the “Fairytale” King. He was born in Nymphenburg Castle, which lies to the west of the city at the entrance of a large park. His most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, is nestled in the dramatic foothills of the Alps and makes for an excellent daytrip. American tourists are already familiar with Ludwig's fairy tale castle as the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland was modeled on it.
Munich people love sports. Everything is possible in the city that hosted the Olympic Games in 1972 from tennis to squash, from golf to rafting, from jogging to rowing. Enthusiastic swimmers will find modern indoor and outdoor pools in town and crystalline lakes in the surrounding region. Spectator sports are also high on the agenda. The state-of-the-art Allianz Arena stadium, built especially for the 2006 World Cup, is home to Munich's two rival football teams, FC Bayern, whose most famous member is Franz Beckenbauer, and the lesser known TSV 1860 München.
Last but not least Munich is a shopper’s paradise, with fine fashions, designer outlets, venerable department stores, antique shops and excellent bookstores. A local curiosity is the so-called Königlich Bayerischen Hoflieferanten, or Royal Bavarian Suppliers, whose products are still deemed very noble and of particularly high quality. These range from jewels and tableware, to victuals of all kind.
And while on the subject of food, when it comes to eating or just taking a break,visitors will find establishments offering every type of fare imaginable and for all budgets. But typical Bavarian cuisine, like Munich itself, is generally enjoyed by people from all walks of life. That might be a morning veal sausage (Weisswurst) with a large pretzel and sweet mustard, a sturdy portion of knuckle (pork or veal) with a potato dumpling, or a spicy Obatzder (a cheese dip) with dark bread. The best place to enjoy such delights, most real Munichers will tell you, is at one of the city's lively beer gardens, the ideal place to meet old friends and make new ones.
Munich's Top 10 sights for visitors: