The City of Munich as a Start

The essay starts with looking at the urban development of the City of Munich – not because Munich is considered the most important city in the world (although some of my fellow citizens may think so) – but because the author has spent some time over the last 50 years in describing and visualizing her development. Some of it is noted on this website:

While preparing an exhibition on the urban development of Munich since her foundation in 1158 we have identified quite a number of turning points but amongst those one evolved as the most important one distinguishing her from other cities.

This turning point happened around the year 1800 when three very diverse driving forces came together:

  • the construction of a park – the English Garden – from 1789 / 1807,
  • the demolition of the fortifications of the city – from 1795,
  • the establishment of the Kingdom of Bavaria as a result of the Bavarian elector allying with Emperor Napoleon – 1806.

These forces opened the opportunity for the bavarian kings to build a New Royal Munich.

The New Munich

The painter Heinrich Adam brought this very well to the point in his series of pictures by 1839. In the painting The New Munich of 1839 he shows places and buildings caming into being under the reigns of the first two kings Max-Joseph I. and Ludwig I. :

  • the Max-Joseph-Platz (Max-Joseph-Square) among with the Opera, the so-called Königsbau (Royal Building) as the new face of the residence towards the square and a new main post office,
  • Ludwigstraße with University and Ludwigskirche,
  • Königsplatz with Glyptothek and the Pinakothek.

Adam painted The Old Munich in the same manner with the landmarks of the city from the past six centuries:

  • the Schrannenplatz / Marienplatz,
  • the churches of the old town and
  • the medieval city gates.

The transformation of the city of Munich was carried out by the Elector Karl-Theodor and  three bavarian Kings: Max-Joseph I., Ludwig I. and Maximilian II. over a period of very short 60 years. If we compare the city map of 1803 with that of 1865 one can very well see the scope of the transformation:

Munich 1803
Munich 1844/65


The following map highlights the major urbanistic elements of the transformation:

  • the Englisch Garden
  • the Maxvorstadt with Karolinenplatz, Königsplatz and Exhibition Buildings Glyptothek and Pinakotheken
  • Ludwigstraße
  • Maximilianstraße with Maximilianäum
Munich 1844/65 with highlighted urban projects
Munich 1806 – overlay on todays city layout
Munich 1844/65 – overlay on todays city layout

View both maps as animated GIF.

The bavarian rulers as the city lords of Munich accomplished in a belated absolut venture a farreaching transformation of the urban space setting the pace for the further development of the city.

Athough Munich had been badly damaged in airstrikes at the end of World War II all elements of the transformation in the first half of the 19th century can be seen today.

© google maps

More information on Munich’s transformation at the beginning of the 19th century can be found on this page.