Munich (German: München), Germany, the capital of the state of Bavaria and the third largest city in Germany. It lies on the Isar River between the Alps and the Danube River near the Austrian border.
Munich is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany and is known for fine museums and music, numerous beer halls and breweries, and lively festivals. Carnival, before Lent, and Oktoberfest, in autumn, are two of the largest, most popular celebrations held in Europe.
Munich is the most important commercial and industrial city in southern Germany and is a major financial, transportation, and communications center. Foremost among its many industries are the making of electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, automobiles, clothing, beer, chemicals, and optical and precision instruments. Also important to the city's economy are printing and publishing and tourism.
The city has a subway and a suburban rail system and is well served by intercity passenger and freight railways. Franz Josef Strauss Airport, opened in 1992, is one of Europe's largest international airports.
Munich's oldest section lies on the west bank of the Isar in an area once encircled by walls. The heart of the old section is Marienplatz, an ancient square and site of the New Town Hall, built in a Neo-Gothic style. Nearby is the Frauenkirche, a twin-towered cathedral. Here, too, is the former royal palace, the Residenz, home of the Wittelsbach family, which ruled Bavaria for more than 700 years (1180–1918). Other buildings include the National Theater, the Church of the Theatines, and the Hofbräuhaus, the most noted of Munich's many beer halls.
Just north of the old section is the English Garden, the city's largest and finest park. Nearby is Schwabing, the student and artist section. On the outskirts of the city are Schleissheim and Nymphenburg palaces. Nymphenburg, a magnificent Baroque palace, was the former summer residence of the Wittelsbachs. Munich also has a botanic garden and a zoo.
Munich has numerous museums and art galleries. Especially notable are the Old Pinakothek, housing one of the world's finest art collections, and the German Museum, with hundreds of excellent exhibits on science and technology. Other museums include the New Pinakothek, the Bavarian National Museum, the Glyptothek, and the museum of the Residenz.
Munich has four symphony orchestras, including the prominent Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Also widely known is the Bavarian State Opera. One of the many drama groups is the Bavarian State Theater, which presents mainly classical plays.
Institutions of higher learning include the University of Munich (founded 1472) and the Technical University of Munich.
Tradition places Munich's settlement around a Benedictine abbey dating back to the early Middle Ages. Munich was chartered in 1158 by a Saxon duke and became a market town and the chief Isar river crossing for salt and grain trade routes. The city came under the control of the Wittelsbach family in 1180 and was made their permanent residence in 1255. It soon became a thriving commercial center encircled by walls.
During the Thirty Years' War (1618–48) Munich was a stronghold of Roman Catholicism and remains so today. Beautification began in the 18th century, but the greatest development occurred in the 19th century under the Bavarian kings Ludwig I, Maximilian II, and Ludwig II—all patrons of the arts. In the early 1900's the Blue Rider movement of expressionist painting centered in Munich.
Munich was the birthplace of the National Socialist (Nazi) party and the scene of Adolf Hitler's first attempt to seize power—the beer hall putsch of 1923. It was also here that a pact dooming Czechoslovakia to German control was signed by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany in 1938.
Munich was heavily damaged by bombing during World War II. Reconstruction was rapid after the war, followed by great industrial and population growth. In 1972 Munich opened a subway and was the site of the Summer Olympics, which were marred by the seizure and killing of 11 Israeli athletes by Arab terrorists.