Munich Residenz

MUNICH RESIDENZ: The Residenz is the big, fat, shiny jewel in Munich’s majestic crown. It’s easily up there with the best of Europe’s great palaces.
It's home to the Wittelsbachs' gold-filled rooms, elegant courtyards and the crown jewels of Bavaria.

munich-residenz-palaceITALIAN STYLE: The Residenz' front facade bears a striking resemblance to the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Its rusticated stonework is meant to convey strength and power.

History of the Munich Residenz

The palace was built in three major stages starting in 1571 with the model of a Florentine palazzo in mind.
To get a sense of just how God-damned big this place is just check out how much space it consumes on a city map compared to say, Marienplatz. It’s on the site of the former imperial Neuveste building (1385), making this place the royal perch for over 500 years, up until the end of the monarchy in 1918.

Location and scope

residenz-lionsRUB FOR LUCK: The lions on Residenz Strasse.

The palace complex faces onto Max-Joseph-Platz, just across from Munich’s opera house.

The western side faces Residenz Strasse, lined with bronze lions that you're supposed to rub for luck.

To the north is the geometrically unassailable Hofgarten (Royal Garden).
The Residenz houses four museums which you have to visit individually. Most of the old royal rooms are now part of the main Munich Residenz Museum.

There's also the Schatzkammer der Residenz (Residenz Treasury), the Cuvilliés-Theater (also called the Old Residenz Theatre) and the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (Egyptian Art Museum). Reserve three or four hours to soak up just the Residenz Museum and the Treasury.

Around the Munich Residenz Museum

residenz-antiquariumHALL OF FAME: The Antiquarium was used
for royal banquets. It’s the oldest surviving
part of the Residenz and the largest
Renaissance ceremonial hall north of the Alps.
Pic: © Wilfried Hoesl / FVAmuc

Some sections of the Residenz are closed in the morning, other in the afternoon so you won’t get to see the whole museum unless you stick around a while.
The highlights, like the Antiquarium above, are open all day. Here’s a peek into what you’ll see.

Ground Floor
- Old Boys’ Cub
Near the entrance is the Rococo Ahengalerie (Ancestor’s Gallery), its walls lined with 121 portraits of the Wittelbachs. Charlemagne and a few other nobles pictured here weren’t really in the family, but were added to thicken the image of the Wittelbachs’ blue blood.

- Off with her head!
Just further along is the enclosed Grottenhof (Grotto Court), where you’ll find a grand fountain topped with a rather grotesque statue.
It’s Perseus, who stands sword in hand atop the freshly beheaded statue Medusa (her head is in his other hand). The grotto itself seems like artefact from the ocean floor and has an organic statue of the god Mercury that looks like it could burst to life at any moment.
It's made up of thousands of crystals, tuff and coloured shells. The shells were collected by beachgoers in the 1950s and given to the museum.

residenz-statueAHEAD OF HIS TIME: The Perseus statue in the
Grottenhof (Grotto Courtyard) of the Munich
Residenz. The courtyard was designed
by Friedrich Sustris in the Mannerist style.

- Hall of splendour
Next door is the Antiquarium (1750), to my mind among the most beautiful spots in the whole city. This huge Renaissance hall features on most Munich Residenz promotional material.
This was where guests of state were wined and dined at long, delicacy stuffed benches. It’s adorned with Christian-allegorical paintings and more busts than the Playboy mansion. The boot on the wall Romantic Italy takes the stage in the Kurfürstenzimmer (Elector’s Rooms). Venice and the Italian countryside are depicted in about 30 paintings by Bernado Bellotto and Carl Rottmann.

First Floor
Upstairs you’ll find the Schlachtensäle (Hall of Battle) with 14 murals depicting the Napoleonic Wars. Next door is a collection of European porcelain from the 1800s. Perched over the Grottenhof are the Reiche Zimmer (Rich Rooms) - elaborate Rococo spaces (including a throne room) adorned with gold, pomp and splendour. You can’t miss the nearby Kabinetts, a series of small rooms displaying mirrors and miniatures. Also worth seeing up here are the Hofkirche (Royal Church), Reiche Kapelle (Rich Chapel) and a display of silverware to make your old granny green with envy.

Other highlights

residenz-treasureGOLDEN ARTIFACTS? PRICELESS: There's
enough booty in the Shatzkammer der Residenz
to fill any pirate’s chest.

Schatzkammer der Residenz (Residence Treasury)
Here you’ll find all that glitters is truly gold, or something else bloody expensive. If you want to see the family jewels, or you're a grubby little goblin hunting treasure, this is the place to come. The collection spans 10 halls and a millennium of treasures. Showpieces include a Cross of Queen Gisela (1000AD), a delicate statuette of dragon-slaying knight St George (1599) and a beautiful boxed travel kit that belonged to French Empress Marie Louise (circa 1820).

Not too far in you’ll come across the Bavarian Crown Jewels, commissioned after Napoleon gave Bavaria the status of kingdom in 1806.
At the end of the circuit is a room displaying treasures from around the globe, including examples of Chinese porcelain and captured Turkish daggers.

The Coin Collection
The Munich Residenz also houses one of the world’s most valuable coin collections with over 300,000 pieces. It’s fascinating to go through a few of them and check out the amazing detail under the in-built magnifying glasses.

curvillies-theatre-munichGRAND: You can still catch a show at the Residenz'
Cuvilliés Theatre. Pic:CC Kent Wang

The Cuvilliés-Theater
This gleaming red-and gold auditorium (1751-1755) is touted as one of Europe’s finest Rococo theatres. Belgian architect (and one-time court jester!) François Cuvilliés designed it. The theatre was originally reserved for the royal court and it’s now open for inspection. You can even still catch a concert. Perhaps an opera?. See here for the program (website in German).

residenz-hofgartenGREENERY: Me in the Hofgarten during spring.

The Hofgarten (Royal Garden)
This formal garden was once the private strolling grounds of Bavarian royalty. Various rulers have added their touch to the garden through its 400-year lifespan and it’s now a popular spot to drink coffee, play boules or just sit about and listen to music. Click here to see Destination Munich's Hofgarten review.

Egyptian Art Museum
Venture way, way back in time to the Kingdom of the Nile at this fascinating museum on the north side of the Munich Residenz.
Click here to see a full report on the Egyptian Art Museum.

The Details

Location: The Munich Residenz is at Residenz Strasse 1.
Phone: 089 29 06 71
Website: residenz-muenchen.de
Open: *Munich Residenz Museum and Treasury: April to October 15 open daily 9am to 6pm. October 16 to March open 10am to 5pm. *Cuvilliés Theatre: April to October open Monday to Saturday 2pm to 6pm. On Sundays and public holidays 9am to 6pm. October 16 to March open Monday to Saturday 2pm to 5pm. On Sundays and public holidays 10am to 5pm.
Cost:
*Residenz Museum €7, concession €6.
*Treasury €7, concession €6.
*Cuvilliés Theatre €3.50, concession €2.50.
*Combination Munich Residenz Museum and Treasury ticket €11, concession €9. *Combination Residenz Museum, Treasury and Cuvillés Theatre ticket €13, concession €10.50
Directions: Get any S-Bahn or U Bahn no. 3 or 6 to Marienplatz and take the street on the right side of the Neues Rathaus north for a few hundred metres. Plan:

munich-residenz-plan


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