Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sightseeing Sunday

Today being Sunday, almost all the shops are closed. I was told this is due to the state's strong Christian background. Lots of tourists out and about though. First stop is Karlsplatz. I got a bit lost and ended up at the doorstep of the Munich Justizpalast (Palace of Justice). Right beside it is a neo-Gothic structure in red bricks. Both these buildings serve as courthouses. To the west is the Stachus, which is what I'm after. After seven years, it still looks the same as I last remembered. Through the Karlstor gate is Neuhauser Strasse / Kaufinger Strasse, a pedestrian walkway connecting Karlsplatz and Marienplatz. Along this passageway are mostly shops and restaurants. As these are closed, I visited the churches instead.

First church I passed by is the B├╝rgersaalkirche (Citizens Hall Church). From the outside, it's hard to tell this is a church. Baroque-style building with a pink facade. An elderly man saw me with my camera, and he beckoned me in. While the ground floor is a three-aisle windowless crypt, the upper church and prayer hall is simply cavernous and magnificent. As there is Mass ongoing, I decided to come back later for pictures. Same goes for the nearby Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady). Further down the road is Neues Rathaus (New City Hall). More and more tourists are filling up the plaza in front of it, waiting for the performance of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel on its facade. The Glockenspiel comes alive every day at 11am, 12nn, and 5pm. I was just in time for the first performance of the day. After the 15-minute performance, I went back to the churches to take pictures.

I found Frauenkirche quite interesting. The church with its twin towers and domes seems to be the tallest structure within the city centre. Turns out that there's a local height limit that prohibits buildings taller than 109 meters in the city center. The cathedral's twin towers are about 98.5 meters in height. Upon entering the church, you'll immediately find the tomb of Emperor Ludwig IV of Bavaria. The crypt below houses the tombs of the members of the House of Wittelsbach. There's an interesting story about the church. It is said that during its construction, the devil made a deal with the architect J├Ârg von Halsbach that church will have no windows. Halsbach got around that by positioning the columns in such a way that the windows cannot be seen from the foyer, where the devil was standing. When the devil realized that he had been tricked, he stamped him foot with such force that it left an imprint on the entrance to this day.

Back at Neues Rathaus, the tourists are back again for the noontime performance of the Glockenspiel. I took this chance go to inside the New City Hall to take pictures. Beside the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). Again, Mass is not yet over, so I visited Alter Peter first. For a fee of a few euros, you can climb up this 92-metre tower and have sweeping panoramic views of the whole city. It's a fairly long and steep climb, so be prepared. Also best to come to Alter Peter early because the viewing platform is relatively narrow, and it's hard to move around when there's many tourists. Back inside the church, we see the gilded high altar with the figure of Saint Peter. Mounted on the columns are various sculptures and paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross. Next church I visited is Heiliggeistkirche a.k.a. The Church of the Holy Spirit, located just beyond Neues Rathaus. At this point, all the churches start to look the same to me. This one's got another very impressive high altar by Nikolaus Stuber with Ulrich Loth's "The Effusion of the Holy Spirit" as the altarpiece. The ceilings and columns are done in the Rococo style.

Late lunch is a bunch of patries I bought from Rischart. Went back to the hotel to eat the pastries, as I need to rest my legs for a while. Then, it's to Odeonsplatz for more sightseeing. Straight out of the station up to the plaza, you'll see Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals' Hall) - a loggia containing the statues of military leaders Johann Tilly and Karl Philipp von Wrede on either sides. To the left of Feldherrnhalle is the Theatinerkirche (Theatine Church). The facade may be yellow in color, but inside the church, it's all white. To the left of the Feldherrnhalle is the Hofgarten. I'm sure it's very nice in spring, but right now, the whole place is blanketed in snow. In the middle of the Renaissance-style garden is a pavilion dedicated to the goddess Diana.

There's still enough light in the sky for more pictures, but at this point, my camera batteries gave up due to the cold temperature. Before leaving the hotel earlier, I changed to a different set of batteries. Should've stuck with the old ones. Anyway, with no juice left on my camera, I decided to call it a day.

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