The mercury reached the mid-80s today, which marked the first time since we began our trip 50 days ago that we've experienced warm weather. Fortunately, there was a light breeze blowing most of the day, but by mid-afternoon we chose the shady sides of streets for walking, and were looking for park benches under shade trees.
We left our apartment around 10:00 AM with the intention of returning to the sprawling Viktualienmarkt, the daily food market and square where friends Peter and Rosita had taken us last week, but which had been mostly closed for the Ascension Day holiday.
We chose a route which led us through the Gärtnerplatz, a peaceful little square--actually a circle--that is anchored by the Gärtnerplatztheater, an opera house and opera company that opened in 1865 as Munich's second major theater (after the National Theater). In addition to the theater, several cafes and shops surround a tiny park with benches and flower gardens, and we lingered here awhile before turning toward the nearby Viktualienmarkt.
Developed from a farmers’ market in the early 19th-century, today's Viktualienmarkt has become a popular market for gourmets. The market covers an area of 240,000 sq. ft., with 140 stalls
and shops offering flowers, exotic fruit, meats, game, poultry, spices, cheese, fish, juices, fresh produce and much more. There are also several biergartens with outdoor seating under shade trees, plus numerous stalls selling novelty items.
Over the course of time, many additions were made to the market, including a butchers' hall, a tripe hall, pavilions for bakeries, fruit vendors and a fish hall. The butchers' shops at the foot of Peter's hill (site of the adjacent St. Peter’s Church), the stalls for poultry and venison and the stands of the flower vendors expanded even further.
During World War II the market area was severely damaged, and there was some consideration given to closing down the market in order to erect multi-story buildings on this high-priced piece of real estate. Instead, the municipal authorities decided to revitalize Viktualienmarkt with considerable financial support, including the addition of several memorial statues and fountains honoring German singers and comedians.
We strolled through the market for the better part of an hour, with Dee finding some spices to buy, before sitting down for lunch at the biergarten that is in the shadows of St. Peter's Church and the neighboring Church of the
Holy Spirit. Bratwurst sandwiches and potato salad, along with mugs of beer, were the orders of the day for us, and we took our time munching on the sandwiches while observing the parade of people going about their business in this fascinating place.
After lunch we visited the interior of St. Peter's Church, the oldest church in the city. Before Munich was established as a city in 1158, there had been a church on this site, where 8th-century monks lived around this church on a hill called Petersbergl.
At the end of the 12th-century a new church in Romanesque style was consecrated, and expanded in Gothic style shortly before the church was destroyed by fire in 1327. The reconstructed church was dedicated in 1368, and in the early 17th-century the 273-foot spire received a Renaissance steeple top.
The exterior facades of this church seem rather drab, but the whitewashed interior is full of light, with highlights of pastel pink and blue colors. The dominant features are the high altar (which includes a figure of St. Peter); and the ceiling fresco showing a heavenly scene with Peter crucified upside down. Also impressive are the bronze statues of the
St. Peter's Church
apostles which line the nave of the church.
Our next scheduled stop was the posh Hermes store on the Maximilianstrasse, a street lined with other big names such as Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, etc., so that Dee could buy a bottle of her favorite fragrance. She's been trying to find it at every stop on our trip, including duty-free shops at airports, but to no avail.
So we cut through the Marienplatz, where a professional crew was recording some sort of performance, and finally reached the posh Hermes store, stuffed with several floors of overpriced merchandise that no doubt tickles the fancy of visiting Arab sheiks and other well-healed clientele. They had the fragrance Dee wanted, so she bought a bottle, and we quickly took our leave of the stuffy place.
Since we were within the vicinity, we decided to walk several blocks north along Residenzstrasse to reach the Odeonsplatz, a large public square that was developed in the early 19th-century. This square was originally named for the former concert hall (the Odeon), on its northwestern side, but has come to include the adjacent forecourt of the Residenz (former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria); the
Theatine Church; and the Feldherrnhalle (an 1841 monument honoring the Bavarian Army) to the south.
The Feldherrnhalle was the scene of a confrontation in November, 1923, between the Bavarian State Police and the followers of Adolf Hitler in which the Nazi party attempted to storm the Bavarian Defense Ministry. This was the culmination of the Nazis' failed coup attempt to overthrow the Bavarian State, commonly referred to as the "Beer Hall Putsch".
In the ensuing gun battle, four policemen and fourteen marchers were killed, plus two more Nazi party members elsewhere in Munich for a total of sixteen. As a result of the failure of the coup attempt, Hitler was arrested and sentenced to a brief prison term.
After the Nazis took power in 1933, Hitler turned the Feldherrnhalle into a memorial to the Nazis killed during the failed putsch. A memorial was put up on its east side, opposite the location of the shootings. This monument was a rectangular structure listing the names of the martyrs, and was under perpetual ceremonial guard by the SS. The square in front of the Feldherrnhalle (the Odeonsplatz) was used for SS parades and commemorative rallies. New SS recruits took
their oath of loyalty to Hitler in front of the memorial, and passers-by were expected to hail the site with the Nazi salute.
As a symbol of defiance, some people tried to avoid this. The structure's backside was (and still is) occupied by a rococo palace, the Palais Preysing, in front of which runs a lane, the "Viscardigasse". This little detour helped to bypass the Feldherrnhalle, thus allowing dissenters to avoid the indignity of rendering the required Nazi salute. In the mid-90s, a wavy stripe of gold-colored pavement stones were placed in the Viscardigasse in memorial of this civil resistance.
Adjacent to the Odeonsplatz lies the Hofgarten, a tranquil little park where we sat on a bench to rest for awhile. Built between 1613–1617 by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, as an Italian style Renaissance garden, there is a pavilion (or temple) in the center dedicated to the goddess Diana. The garden was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt with a partial redesign which compromised between the landscape garden character it had acquired in the 19th-century and the original formal design of the 17th-century. Nowadays the garden is open to the public, and is very popular
with both residents and tourists alike.
After leaving the garden, we paused for a round of refreshing gins and tonics at Café Tambosi on the Odeonsplatz, where it was pretty warm on their outside terrace, even under an umbrella.
There is a U-bahn (metro) station on the square, so we rode the subway home, where we encountered such crowded conditions that we let one train go by for lack of space. The next one was almost as cramped, but we were able to wedge ourselves in for the short ride to our stop.
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