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Munich History

In earlier days of the city, its motto was “The world city with a heart.” In recent times, that was changed to Munchen mag Dich (“Munich likes you”). In common with much of Europe, Munich has a long history that has its share of violence. The city must have started out peacefully because it is on a site where a monastery existed in the 8th century. The city gets its name from Munichen, meaning monks in High German. The village grew around a church next to a

bridge over the river Isar. In an obvious complement to capitalism, an early settler, Henry the Lion built a bridge over the river in the early 1100s to earn money from traders passing through. One of the city’s first-ever conflicts erupted when a competitor built a second bridge. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had to settle the conflict by dividing up trading and currency rights.

Munich was granted city status in 1175 and shortly after became fortified. Germany’s king in 1314, Duke Louis IV, chose Munich as his home. Soon after, most of the city was destroyed by a fire, but it was rebuilt with new fortifications. During the 16th century, Munich became a center of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V at the same time created the Hofbrauhaus for brewing brown beer. About one third of the city’s population a few years later died from the bubonic plague. Also around that time, Munich suffered the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War.

In the 18th century, the city once more was engulfed in the winds of war during the many Napoleonic conflicts. But this was also a time when Munich became a real European city with monumental architectural works. King Ludwig I was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and collected works that formed the nucleus of Munich’s two best-known museums, the Glyptothek and the Alte Pinakothek. Many of Munich’s finest building were built in the early 1800s including neo-classical structures that still characterize the city today.

Just before World War I, the city became home to many artists and writers such as Thomas Mann. During World War I, three French bombs fell on Munich and there was a period of unrest after Germany surrendered to the allies. In 1923, Adolf Hitler and his supporters -- many of whom were concentrated in Munich -- attempted their famous and failed Beer Hall Putsch in an effort to overthrow the Weimar Republic. Munich was a stronghold of the Nazi party when Hitler took power in 1933. But Munich was also the headquarters of the White Rose, which was a group of students who during the early 1940s attempted to overthrow the government. The city was hit by 71 air raids during World War II, which reduced it to a pile of rubble.

Munich was also the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics when a disastrous hostage rescue attempt led to the death of five Israeli team members.

Today, the revived city is prosperous enough to have been called Germany’s “yuppie city.” The town is one of Germany’s main centers of high-tech and media industries. It has also become famous for its concentration of TV stations and film studios, as well as other cultural elements. The city is headquarters to well over 300 book and newspaper publishers, giving it a concentration of media found nowhere else in Germany.

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