Konigsplatz

KONIGSPLATZ: Tribute to Athens, Nazi parade ground, massive car park, summer concert turf.

koenigsplatz
CLASSIC: Me with the Glyptothek in the background.

Munich’s grand Konigsplatz (correctly: Königsplatz) has played many roles. Stepping onto this huge, grassy square I can’t help but feel just a wee bit too small.

It’s anchored by three classical buildings: The Propyläen, a symbolic entrance, the Antikensammlungen (State Antiques Collection) and the Glyptothek (an ancient Greek and Roman sculpture collection).

Original idea

King Ludwig I said he wouldn’t rest until Munich looked like Athens, and with Konigspatz he pretty much got his wish. His favourite architect Leo von Klenze designed the space in 1812 to look like an ancient Greek square, a “forum of art” to compliment the “forum of science” on Ludwig Strasse.

Gateway to the future

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ON THE MOVE: A colleague of mine in front of the Propyläen, an important city gateway.
The Propyläen (built 1846-1862) archway was meant to connect the Old Town with a new passage of development leading to Nympenburg Palace.

It was modelled and named after a similar structure at Athens’ Acropolis. Above its Doric columns is a relief showing Greece’s war of independence against the Ottoman Empire.

Darker days

Hitler loved the monumentality of Konigspatz and renamed it the Akropolis Germaniae. He and architect Paul Ludwig Troost had it transformed into a parade ground for goose-stepping soldiers. Trees were cut down, granite pavement was laid and a pair of “temples of honour” was built to house the Nazis killed in a failed coup on Odeonsplatz known as the “Beer Hall Putsch”.
The temples were blown up after the war as part of de-Nazification.
The square was used as a car park for decades after the war, and was eventually grassed over restored to King Ludwig’s original vision.
Now it’s a dramatic stage for outdoor opera and theatre performances in summer.

Traces of a painful past

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INTRICATE:The detailed relief at the top of the Propyläen.
The only Third Reich traces left is the pair of almost identical buildings on the eastern side of the square.
Their harsh edifices give you an idea as to what the Nazis wanted to do with Munich.

On the left is the former Führerbau (Führer’s Building), which served as Hitler’s Munich headquarters.
This was where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain wrote himself into history books as the biggest appeaser of all time by signing the “Munich Agreement” in 1938.
The so-called “peace accord” paved the way for the German invasion of the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland and the outbreak of World War II. The building is now the Hochschule für Musik (College of Music).

Drawings together

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MAKING MUSIC: The Hochschule für Musik has a painful past.
On the right is a former Nazi administration building that now houses the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (Bavarian Collection of Graphic Arts). It’s open to the public.

Inside are over 400 000 printed and handmade drawings going back 500 years including works by Vincent
van Gogh
and Raffaelo Santi.

Map of the area

Here's an annotated map of Königsplatz, with the major buildings and former Third Reich sites marked out. It's a pretty big grassy space, you can see why it's ideal for outdoor summer concerts.


View Königsplatz, Munich, Germany in a larger map 

The details

Directions: Konigsplatz is a 10-minute walk north of the Hauptbahnhof along Luisen Strasse.

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