Archive for July, 2013

After the Olympic Committee’s decision to award the games to Munich in 1966, the  park’s construction for the 1972 Summer Olympics commenced in 1968. The National Olympic Committee chose Oberwiesenfeld as it was a relatively vacant area and decided on a ‘green Olympic Games’ concept: the ideals of democracy combined with a positive outlook toward the future, technology and human relations included! The technology aspect of this concept will become clear when you view the extensive use of tensile structures throughout the venues.

Munchen_-_Olympiaturm_3And one could say that the ‘green aspect’ of the area is still alive and thriving as the park is being utilized for a range of cultural, social, religious and sporting events.

The Olympic Tower, which was already under construction when the games were given to Munich in 1966, was included retroactively in the ‘green concept’ of the games. The tower was to symbolize the freedom of speech ideal of democracy and a positive attitude towards technological developments.

But with all this positive outlook to the future care must be taken not to forget the past, as the two memorials in the park remind us: firstly, the memorial to the victims of the Munich massacre during the games. Secondly, the Schuttblume (‘rubble flower’) to commemorate the civil victims of aerial attacks in WWII.


Your trip to the park on your Alpine Gems tour will give you the chance to marvel at the architectural advances of the time and learn more about the history surrounding them.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens


Read Full Post »

Alter-peter_vom-rathausA long time before Munich was given city rights this area had been populated and people had worshipped since pre- Merovingian times in a church in the position of today’s St. Peter’s Church.

And in the 8th century monks were living in the area surrounding the Petersbergl (‘Peter’s little mountain’). Over the course of the centuries other churches were built on this site and today’s church was a reconstruction of the ‘Bavarian Romanesque style one, with Gothic style expansions’ which had been destroyed in a fire in 1327. St. Peter is the oldest recorded parish church in Munich and presumably the originating point for the whole city. From the top you can get a good view of Munich and spot the Viktualienmarkt, another important and famous historical part of Munich.


In Latin ‘victuals’ means food and clearly indicates its original purpose. Before the advent of the ‘Supermarket’ or ‘Corner Dairy’ in the 20th century every town and village in the world would have had some kind of a market where to swap or purchase foodstuffs and other necessities of life. They were generally in the centre of town, presumably for ease of access for everyone. The Viktualienmarkt, in its current situation, was the official successor to the local market at Marienplatz (formerly known as Schrannenplatz), when that one had gotten too small. King Maximilian I ordered the space to be made available in a decree from 2nd of May in 1807. He even told the municipal authorities to demolish the buildings of the charitable Heiliggeist hospice to make space for it! The market proved to be so popular, not only because of the range of foods available, but also for the events held here throughout the year, that it needed to be expanded several times throughout the 19th century. When parts of it were destroyed in WWII the municipal authorities resisted developers and reconstructed it to its present glory. Part of the reconstruction was honouring local folk singers and comedians by erecting memorial fountains all over the area.


Your walk through the Viktualienmarkt on your Alpine Gems tour should provide you with ample opportunities to sample local treats.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »

1280px-Monopteros_in_MünchenOn your bike trip around the park, on your Alpine Gems tour, you will get to see a variety of sights: tea houses, beer gardens, historical monuments, artificial lakes and clever landscaping. As the park is criss-crossed by lots of the Isar’s tributaries, the main one being the Eisbach (‘ice brook’), a lot of bridges will need crossing to get to them: over a hundred!

Chinesischer-Turm_-_7362Some of the older sights are the Monopteros, the Chinese Tower, the Stone Bench and the Rumford Hall. Some were designed and built in the 18th century, the rest in the 19th century. They give a good impression of the styles and designs favoured during these periods and have been meticulously restored or re-designed after damages.

Rumford HausMore modern additions and traditions are the Japanese Tea House, which was gifted to the State of Bavaria by the head of the Urasenke tea school to celebrate the Summer Olympics in 1972 and the Schönfeldwiese which is a popular and legal nude sunbathing area. Another modern activity to be observed is surfing on the Eisbach! As the Eisbach is a man-made river it has artificial water inlets. One of these creates a wave big and strong enough for experienced surfers to ride it. This has been popular since 1972 and was made a legal activity in 2010.

1280px-Japanese_TeahouseAs can be expected, the character of the park has changed over the centuries, as the city surrounding it has changed. Roads and modern cityscapes have left their marks, but civil initiatives try to preserve as much of it as possible. That includes for example a ‘tree donation’ fund raising effort in 1989/90, to replace the elm trees that were destroyed by the Dutch Elm disease with resistant varieties.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens


Read Full Post »

1280px-Englischer_Garten_from_MonopterosDespite its unhappy beginnings, the English Garden is an excellent example of public gardens and one of the largest ones in the world. With an area of 3.7 square kilometres running alongside the Isar river, it is even bigger than New York’s Central Park. Its name is in reference to the style in which it was designed, the kind of informal gardening made popular throughout the 18th and 19th century by the English landscape artist Capability Brown.

In 1777 Munich became part of an unwanted inheritance through the death of the Elector of Bavaria Maximillian III Joseph who had died childless. After a short war for succession the lands fell to Carl Theodor, who tried unsuccessfully to trade it for the Austrian Netherlands! As his preferred residence was in Mannheim, a bit closer to the Austrian Netherland region than the Munich region, and trading countries was quite an acceptable way of foreign policy in those times, one can’t begrudge him the attempt. But, on the same token, one can’t wonder that the people of Munich were not impressed by their new ruler. Whether to alleviate these feelings or just following consensus on urban planning, Carl Theodore authored a range of improvements in the city, part of which was the English Garden.

The initial purpose of a military garden, providing training and activities for the military during peace times, was soon superseded by the need for a public garden, providing a change of scenery for the city people. Various associated projects were made part of the park development, among them the “Elevengarten”, a garden for the pupils of the recently formed military academy, a “Schweizerey” (cattle farm), “Schäfery” (sheep farm) and “Ackerbauschule” (arable farming school) to improve farming techniques, and a “Vihearzneyschule” (veterinary school) for the treatment of cattle diseases. Most of these projects did not long survive the creation of the park, but the veterinary school went on to become what is now the Tierärztliche Fakultät (Veterinary Faculty) of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. The park was initially named “Theodors Park”, but it very quickly became known by the descriptive name “The English Garden”. By May, 1790 sufficient progress had been made to allow Carl Theodor to make an inspection tour; but it was in spring of 1792 that the park was officially opened to the approximately 40,000 citizens of Munich.

Your bike ride through the garden will give you the chance to get a good view of another world famous sight on your Alpine Gems tour.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »

800px-Isar_Wittelsbacher_BrückeThe region along the Isar and Würm rivers had been populated since late Neolithic times and the city’s importance was documented in 1158 as the official foundation date and 1175 when it was granted city status and received fortifications.

The original settlement was near a Benedictine monk settlement, which is remembered in the city’s name (Old High German ‘Munichen’ means “by the monk’s place) and the picture of a monk in the coat of arms.

Germany_München_MonksIn the Middle Ages the fighting and political dealings caused the division of the dukedom of Bavaria in 1255 and Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria. Not until 1506, and several devastating fires later which meant serious rebuilding and refortifications, was the dukedom reunited and Munich was again the capital of the whole of Bavaria.

800px-Frauenkirche_Munich_-_View_from_Peterskirche_TowerMost of the conflicts were centred around money, trade and taxes, which involved the churches as well. As the centuries and rulers came and went, they left their marks in the churches, royal and municipal buildings and representative private residences in and around the region.

Image-Schloss_Nymphenburg_Munich_CC_edit3From the 16th to the 18th century Munich attracted all kinds of artists, architects and philosophers shaping and changing its appearance and citizens. During WWII Munich was heavily damaged in 71 air raids, but a very conservative plan restored a lot of the original character buildings of the city.

Wardamage2With so many interesting places to visit this part of your Southern Delights tour will introduce you to the folks in the south of Germany and their world famous sights and specialities.


Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »

KehlsteinhausThe idea for the house was conceived in 1937 and it was intended as a 50th birthday present for Hitler from the NSDAP. It was intended as a private retreat for him and to entertain visiting dignitaries.

Construction started in 1938 and took only ten months to complete, seven months before schedule! This should give you an idea how much money and man power was thrown into this project: no expenses regarding building materials and decorations were spared and the technical know-how involved was years ahead of its time. Not only did they build a representative house, but they built it on top of a mountain that is not easily accessible and endures heavy winter storms.

Sprengung 078To gain access for the builders they constructed a road by literally blasting it out of the rock. Access to the house for the occupants is through an underground tunnel, decorated in a way to prepare and overwhelm any visitors with the spectacular views from atop.

Kehlsteinhaus elevatorThe house itself was designed only for partial day time use, which makes the whole concept even more indulgent. Fortunately Hitler was not very fond of the site (the rarefied air and his fear of heights making him uncomfortable) and he only visited roughly a dozen times. Due to the lack of association, the building was not bombed or destroyed during and after the war and today visitors can again enjoy the view from the mountain top and try some Bavarian specialties in the restaurant. Only during the summer time though, when the access road is passable.

Panorama KehlsteinhausThis trip on your Southern Delights tour will give you a detailed insight into the political and representative side of life at the time.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

For an amazing collection and comparison of period and modern photos, a professional memorabilia dealer has started this site.

Read Full Post »

The Jenner Mountain is one of the few mountains accessible by gondola and has always enjoyed huge popularity. Not only due to its ease of access, but also for the spectacular views that can be enjoyed from the top of the 1.874 metres high mountain. One gets to be eye to eye with Germany’s 3rd highest mountain, the Watzmann, and has an eagle eye’s view over the lake Königsee, 1200m below. A gondola will take you to the top, well almost the top, and from there you can explore the park. A selection of walks of varying difficulty levels will take you to huts and show more of the alpine beauties in the National Park Berchtesgaden. If you’re happy to just sit and soak in the beauty, there’s a self-serve cafe at the top with lots of outdoor seating. And this is the view you would be enjoying:


While summer is the time to go hiking here, in winter this area is extremely popular with the skiing community and offers a highly competitive skiing field. One of them, for example, is the physically very demanding ‘Grosse Reibn’, a 2- 2 1/2 day ski tour circling the Königsee.

1821_Topo_ef53c629-d407-41ad-b832-f6ab6d3d7df2_grosse_reibnTo give you an idea how extreme this one is, here is a photo gallery documenting a tour (click on ‘Bilder’ to see the gallery), in German only unfortunately, and a note from the text: certain passages were recommended not to start later than 4am, to avoid day time melting and avalanches!

This might sound too challenging for some, but rest assured that on your Southern Delights tour your guides will look after your wellbeing as well as your enjoyment!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »