A Visit to Munich: Jessica’s Picks

June 26, 2014

In honor of the wrap dress’ pit stop in Munich this week— for a soiree with MyTheresa —a guide to my hometown!

Don’t be fooled by the Berlinophiles: the spiritual capital of Germany is Munich! Impervious to flux and hipness it is actually the only cool city in Germany to visit. Coupled with its location (a few hours from Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and the Czech Republic), its plethora of top-notch cultural establishments and perhaps the best bar in the world, it is the perfect mitteleuropäische destination for your summer travels.

Between the Alte, Neue and Moderne Pinakothek, the entire gamut from old to modern masters is covered in just three museums that house the Bavarian state’s collection of masterpieces. My personal favourite, Albrecht Altdorfer’s depiction of Alexander the Great’s victory at Issus is on prominent display at the Alte Pinakothek. I cannot travel to Munich without visiting this painting at least once. It is a work of such spectacular detail and exuberance it must be seen to be believed.

If your taste runs more religious, there are plenty of Dürers, Rubens, Tintorettos and Raphaels to sate your thirst. If your tastes run toward Impressionists, you’ll find those at the Neue Pinakothek. And if German Abstract Expressionism happens to be your personal favourite, you’ll find the relatively new Pinakothek der Moderne. Don’t forget to spend a few moments taking in the “Large Red Sphere” by the late Walter de Maria, suspended in the Türkentor between the museum and the private Brandhorst collection next door. A sculpture of such transcendence, you may find yourself wanting to skip entering the museum itself.

Alte Pinakothek: Barer Strasse 27, 80333
Neue Pinakothek: Barer Strasse 29, 80799
Pinakothek der Moderne: Barer Strasse 40, 80333

Another world famous museum within walking distance of the Pinakotheken is the Lenbachhaus, a museum inside a Romantic 19th century yellow villa that houses the largest collection of Blaue Reiter paintings. The so-called Blue Rider group consisted of Wassily Kandisky, Gabriele Muenther, Paul Klee, August Macke and Franz Marc and represents some of the best early 20th Century expressionism. The gardens are also exceptionally beautiful and worth the price of entry alone.

Lenbachhaus: Luisenstrasse 33, 80333

It is worth exploring the Konigsplatz across the street with its monumental neo-classical architecture and the two museums on the square that house the vast Ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities collection.

But you’ll be fiendishly hungry by now, so rent a bike (Munich is best explored this way) and pedal into the center of town where you can sit down to a traditional Bavarian meal at the Spatenhaus or Zum Franziskaner. I recommend Leberkäse (Bavarian mystery meat) with Potato and Cucumber salad, washed down with a Rhabarber Schorle (rhubarb juice and sparkling water). However, the world’s best beer does come from Munich so you may as well drink up.

Spatenhaus: Residenzstr. 12, 80333
Zum Fransiskaner: Residenzstr. 9, 80333

Both restaurants are near the Rodeo Drive of Munich – Maximilianstr – but we’ve got all that at home, I recommend taking some time to comb the racks at Theresa, still the best multi-brand store in Germany, and the first place yours truly spent all her pocket money on a pair of shoes age 15. Even more dangerous is that there’s no need to go in person, as you can peruse mytheresa.com from afar.

Theresa: Maffeistrasse 3, 80333

Another slightly younger store nearby, with the terrifyingly Teutonic name ‘Schwittenberg” specializes in local designers like Ayzit Bostan, Stefan Schneider but also APC and Acne.

Schwittenberg: Hildegardstr 2, 80539

But my favorite place to shop in Munich is at the Nymphenburg Porzellan Manufaktur. The royal Bavarian porcelain manufacturer founded in 1747 undoubtedly produces the finest porcelain around (think the JAR of porcelain) and I make sure to choose one piece from their many collections every time I visit. Since my family lives near the Nymphenburg Palace (translation: Nymph’s Castle) where the factory is still housed, I have a strong personal connection to the company and make sure to visit the factory as often as possible. The added bonus of going directly to the factory is that you get to stroll through the palace gardens, which are among the best examples of a baroque garden (by way of 19th Century English landscape design) around. Keep your eyes on the drift of swans that live in the canals leading up to the castle. They are a great deal less lovely than they look.

Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg: Odeonsplatz 1, 80539
Schloss Nymphenburg 1, 80638

Leave your bike in front of the shop and cross the street to what we Münchner like to think is the greatest establishment known to man. At Schumann’s American Bar, 72-year-old silver fox and gadabout Charles Schuman has manned the bar in his floor-length white apron since 1982. Sure, the drinks are great and the ice perfectly cubed, the lighting just dim enough and the chairs just Bauhaus-ian enough, but it’s the atmosphere, that has remained personal, unpretentious and timeless enough for us to keep coming back. The competition has come and gone but only one bar stays. In summer, tables are set up in the Hofgarten and if you have the time, spend the afternoon taking in the boule players and listening to Charles’ apocryphal tales as he wafts through the place and doles out plates of Bratkartoffeln himself.

Schumann’s American Bar: Odeonsplatz 6/7, 80539

If you require one last reason to fall in love with Munich, hop in a flesh-coloured Munich cab and head across town for an 8-course meal at Tantris. Unchanged since 1971, this is officially one of the best restaurants in Munich and probably the world. The food is seriously good, but I prefer going for the décor: a blood red, lacquered and velveteen womb, with an overabundance of dragon motifs. You’ll enjoy the food even more for it.

Tantris: Johann-Fichte-Strasse 7, 80805

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