You can see where my priorities lie – whenever I visit a new city, the yarn shops rate just a little higher than the other attractions. Munich was no different. I’ll take you on a little tour:
Tourists gather at the Marionplatz or Mary’s Plaza, at the very heart of Munich. It would be easy to spend an entire day just visiting sites and shops that are within two blocks of this area.
On the east edge of this large plaza the renovated Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall looks out over the plaza. Mary’s column, built to celebrate the end of the Thirty Year’s War and Swedish occupation in 1638 is in the center. On the north is the New Town Hall (construction was finished in 1908), known for the intricate glockenspiel that plays three times a day.
Music is heard throughout the plaza at 11 am, noon and 5 pm (summer hours), as the rotating figures act out two different stories. The upper tier of life-sized characters acts out the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V. This is followed by the traditional cooper’s dance on the lower tier. The show lasts about 15-20 minutes.
About one block west of Marionplatz is the Frauenkirche, known for its distinctive dome-topped towers. The Gothic style church was built in the late 15th century, but the towers were left unfinished due to lack of funds.
The towers were planned to be spires similar to those of the Cologne Cathedral, but in order to save money, domes in a Renaissance style were added around 1525. The onion-shaped domes are made of oxidized copper, which contrasts nicely with the red brick construction. At nearly 100 meters tall, the towers are taller than any other building in the city.
On a totally different scene, the famous beer hall, Hofbräuhaus, is located a couple blocks northeast of the plaza. The hall serves a variety of classic German meals along with its signature beer (or pop or wine). The main floor beer hall seats 1300 people at shared tables. The second floor has two rooms – a smaller one and the large festival hall (reservations required for the festival). The main floor experience is more authentic and lots of fun, while the second floor rooms are quieter.
If you’d like to do some shopping, Munich will accommodate you. Heading west from Mary’s Plaza on Kaufingerstrasse (which loosely translated means shopping street), you will find several modern stores – H & M, Zara, and Deichmann (shoes) are just a few. The Galeria Kaufhof department store is on the corner. On the opposite corner of the plaza is another large department store, Ludwig Beck. A couple blocks north of the plaza is Fünf Höfe, a small mall filled with specialty shops and Vapiano’s Pizza (delicious!).
In the rear of the Ludwig Beck department store, with a separate entrance, is the store’s yarn department. The first time I visited the shop, I didn’t even realize that it was part of the larger store. The walls of this section are lined with yarn, buttons, and ribbon, with more displays filling the center of the room. Ludwig Beck has a nice selection of yarn, which is displayed by color rather than type or brand. Sometimes this type of display makes it harder to find what you are looking for, but I had no trouble finding Regia, my favorite European sock yarn. I couldn’t resist buying some for another pair of socks.
Heading south from the Marionplatz, the roads are at an angle. St. Peter’s Church, from the 14th century and the oldest church in Munich, is located here. If you wind your way around the church you will find the Viktualienmarkt – Munich’s large outdoor produce market. This is a great place to pick up ingredients for a picnic lunch or to enjoy sausages from one of the fast food stalls. I’ve enjoyed both options.
Around the corner from the market is Wolle Rödel (link in German only), another inviting yarn shop. Wolle Rödel is a German chain that has eight locations throughout the country. They carry their own brand of yarn and needles which I’ve found to be of excellent quality. Occasionally, they have some brand name yarns in addition to their own. I bought some baby alpaca yarn to add to my stash – I’ll let you know when I decide what to make with it.
(I plan to return to Munich sometime, because there are at least two recommended yarn stores a bit further out of town that I haven’t visited yet).
This little Munich city tour covers an area that is no more than four blocks in any direction. If you want to go further you can:
-Rent bikes and take a ride through the English Garden. The garden or park, which opened in 1792, covers 910 acres. The park includes the Eisbach, an artificial river with a wave area that attracts surfers. Other attractions are the Chinese Tower, the Japanese Tea House and an open air theater.
-Ride the S2 train and the Dachau bus (about 30 minutes) to see the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. Plan several hours – the information center, opened in 2003, follows the “Path of the Prisoners” through pictures, documents and memories. Especially moving is the crematorium, where the remains of thousands of dead prisoners were incinerated. The walls, guard towers and two of the barracks have been rebuilt for display.
-Take the train to Fussen and then a bus to the Neuschwanstein Castle. Although it was never completed, this fairy tale castle built by Bavarian King Ludwig II, is the most visited one in the world. Walt Disney was inspired by this attraction for his design of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Tickets must be purchased at the ticket office – you can buy a single ticket or a combo ticket for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle, Ludwig’s boyhood home. I especially enjoyed the latter, and would recommend the combo ticket.
As you can see, there are many reasons to visit Munich – in addition to the yarn stores. I hope you get a chance to visit sometime.
Enjoy Munich and happy knitting!