Alter Hof

The Alter Hof (meaning "Old Court") was Munich’s first royal residence and now renown for tall monkey tales.
It was built in 1255 by Ludwig the Stern, an early patriarch of the Wittelsbach dynasty which ruled Bavaria for 700 years.

Another namesake, this one known as Ludwig the Bavarian, was in charge from 1328 to 1347. He ruled the whole Holy Roman Empire from the Hof after he became Kaiser (Emperor) in 1328. The Hof continued to be the main royal seat for 150 years until Wittelsbachs moved their powerbase to the nearby Residenz in 1474.

alter hof
ROYAL COURT: The "Monkey Tower" is on the right. Photo by Gaspa

You can’t tour the Alter Hof - it’s been used for government administration since the 1800s - but you can walk through the courtyard. In summer it’s a scene for open-air concerts and theatre performances.

Monkey business

On the southern side of the courtyard you’ll see a neo-gothic bay window known as the “Monkey Tower”. There are various stories about how it got its name, usually revolving around the baby Ludwig the Bavarian and an excitable primate.

One version says the monkey was a royal pet and saved the future Kaiser from a berserker pig that careered into the room.
Another story says the monkey kidnapped Ludwig and spirited him up into the window. His nanny apparently had to talk and tempt the monkey down with bananas. How these tales came about is anyone’s guess as the windows in question didn’t even exist in Ludwig’s time.

The details

Location: Burg Strasse 8
Take any S-Bahn or U-Bahn 3 or 6 to Marienplatz, then walk around to the right of the Neues Rathaus. It’s then a quick walk down Altenhof Strasse on your right.

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