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. (May 2019)
Origin of medieval town
Munich in the 16th century
The first known settlement in the area was of Benedictine monks on the Salt road. The foundation date is not considered the year 1158, the date the city was first mentioned in a document. The document was signed in Augsburg. By then, the Guelph Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a toll bridge over the river Isar next to the monk settlement and on the salt route. But as part of the archaeological excavations at Marienhof in advance of the expansion of the S-Bahn from 2012 shards of vessels from the eleventh century were found, which prove again that the settlement Munich must be older than their first documentary mention from 1158.
In 1175 Munich received city status and fortification. In 1180 with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria, and Munich was handed to the Bishop of Freising. (Wittelsbach's heirs, the Wittelsbach dynasty, ruled Bavaria until 1918.) In 1240, Munich was transferred to Otto II Wittelsbach and in 1255, when the Duchy of Bavaria was split in two, Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria.
Duke Louis IV, a native of Munich, was elected German king in 1314 and crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. He strengthened the city's position by granting it the salt monopoly, thus assuring it of additional income. In the late 15th century, Munich underwent a revival of gothic arts: the Old Town Hall was enlarged, and Munich's largest gothic church – the Frauenkirche – now a cathedral, was constructed in only 20 years, starting in 1468.
Capital of reunited Bavaria
Banners with the colours of Munich (left) and Bavaria (right) with the Frauenkirche
in the background
When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich became its capital. The arts and politics became increasingly influenced by the court (see Orlando di Lasso and Heinrich Schütz). During the 16th century, Munich was a centre of the German counter reformation, and also of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V commissioned the Jesuit Michaelskirche, which became a centre for the counter-reformation, and also built the Hofbräuhaus for brewing brown beer in 1589. The Catholic League was founded in Munich in 1609.
In 1623, during the Thirty Years' War, Munich became electoral residence when Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria was invested with the electoral dignity, but in 1632 the city was occupied by Gustav II Adolph of Sweden. When the bubonic plague broke out in 1634 and 1635, about one third of the population died. Under the regency of the Bavarian electors, Munich was an important centre of baroque life, but also had to suffer under Habsburg occupations in 1704 and 1742.
In 1806 the city became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament (the Landtag) and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city. Twenty years later, Landshut University was moved to Munich. Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period and were built under the first three Bavarian kings. Especially Ludwig I rendered outstanding services to Munich's status as a centre of the arts, attracting numerous artists and enhancing the city's architectural substance with grand boulevards and buildings. On the other hand, Ludwig II, known the world over as the fairytale king, was mostly aloof from his capital and focused more on his fanciful castles in the Bavarian countryside. Nevertheless, his patronage of Richard Wagner secured his posthumous reputation, as do his castles, which still generate significant tourist income for Bavaria. Later, Prince Regent Luitpold's years as regent were marked by tremendous artistic and cultural activity in Munich, enhancing its status as a cultural force of global importance (see Franz von Stuck and Der Blaue Reiter).
World War I to World War II
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, life in Munich became very difficult, as the Allied blockade of Germany led to food and fuel shortages. During French air raids in 1916, three bombs fell on Munich.
After World War I, the city was at the centre of substantial political unrest. In November 1918 on the eve of German revolution, Ludwig III and his family fled the city. After the murder of the first republican premier of Bavaria Kurt Eisner in February 1919 by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, the Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. When Communists took power, Lenin, who had lived in Munich some years before, sent a congratulatory telegram, but the Soviet Republic was ended on 3 May 1919 by the Freikorps. While the republican government had been restored, Munich became a hotbed of extremist politics, among which Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists soon rose to prominence.
Bombing damage to the Altstadt. Note the roofless and pockmarked Altes Rathaus looking up the Tal. The roofless Heilig-Geist-Kirche
is on the right of the photo. Its spire, without the copper top, is behind the church. The Talbruck gate tower is missing completely.
In 1923, Adolf Hitler and his supporters, who were concentrated in Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and seize power. The revolt failed, resulting in Hitler's arrest and the temporary crippling of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). The city again became important to the Nazis when they took power in Germany in 1933. The party created its first concentration camp at Dachau, 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) north-west of the city. Because of its importance to the rise of National Socialism, Munich was referred to as the Hauptstadt der Bewegung ("Capital of the Movement"). The NSDAP headquarters were in Munich and many Führerbauten ("Führer-buildings") were built around the Königsplatz, some of which still survive.
The city is known as the site of the culmination of the policy of appeasement by Britain and France leading up to World War II. It was in Munich that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assented to the annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region into Greater Germany in the hopes of sating the desires of Hitler's Third Reich.
Munich was the base of the White Rose, a student resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943. The core members were arrested and executed following a distribution of leaflets in Munich University by Hans and Sophie Scholl.
The city was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II by 71 air raids over five years.
After US occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous plan, which preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957, Munich's population surpassed one million. The city continued to play a highly significant role in the German economy, politics and culture, giving rise to its nickname Heimliche Hauptstadt ("secret capital") in the decades after World War II.
Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian fedayeen in the Munich massacre, when gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team.
Most Munich residents enjoy a high quality of life. Mercer HR Consulting consistently rates the city among the top 10 cities with the highest quality of life worldwide – a 2011 survey ranked Munich as 4th. In 2007 the same company also ranked Munich as the 39th most expensive in the world and most expensive major city in Germany. Munich enjoys a thriving economy, driven by the information technology, biotechnology, and publishing sectors. Environmental pollution is low, although as of 2006 the city council is concerned about levels of particulate matter (PM), especially along the city's major thoroughfares. Since the enactment of EU legislation concerning the concentration of particulate in the air, environmental groups such as Greenpeace have staged large protest rallies to urge the city council and the State government to take a harder stance on pollution. Today, the crime rate is low compared with other large German cities, such as Hamburg or Berlin. For its high quality of life and safety, the city has been nicknamed "Toytown" among the English-speaking residents. German inhabitants call it "Millionendorf", an expression which means "village of a million people". Due to the high standard of living in and the thriving economy of the city and the region, there was an influx of people and Munich's population surpassed 1.5 million by June 2015, an increase of more than 20% in 10 years.