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Munich

Munich (German München) is the state capital of the Bundesland Bavaria in Germany and, behind Berlin and Hamburg, Germany's third largest city with a population of about 1.26 million (as of 2001). It is located on the river Isar.


Munich: Frauenkirche and Town Hall steeple
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History

The settlement was founded in 1158 by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and half a century later was granted city status and fortified. In 1255 the city became the residence of the Dukes of Bavaria, the powerful Wittelsbach family, who took administative control of the city away from the previous Freising[?] family.

In 1327, the entire city was destroyed by fire but successfully rebuilt some years later by Louis IV, the ruling Holy Roman Emperor of the time. In 1632 the city was brought under the control of Gustav II Adolph of Sweden as part of the Thirty Years' War, but in 1705 it was recaptured and brought under Habsburg rule. The city's first academic institution, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences[?] was founded in the city in 1759.

The city was now growing at an alarmingly fast rate and was one of the largest cities in mainland Europe. In 1806, it became the capital of the Bavarian monarchical state, with the state's parliament, the Landtag[?] sitting in the city along with the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Twenty years later another prestigious educational institution, the Landshut University[?], based itself in Munich.

Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period all of which come under the Maximillian style of architecture, after the reigning King, Maximilian I. These buildings include the Ludwigstraße, the Ruhmeshalle and the Königsplaz built by architects Leo von Klenze[?] and Friedrich von Gärtner[?], and the "Bavaria" statue, built by Schwanthaler[?].

In 1882 electric lighting was introduced to Munich and the city hosted Germany's first exhibition of electricity. Nineteen years later the Hellabrunn Zoo[?] opened in the city. After the First World War the city was at the centre of the unrest that saw Adolf Hitler and National Socialism rise to power in Germany. In 1923 Hitler and his supporters, concentrated in his home town of Munich, staged the Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt at overthrowing the government of the time and gaining power for himself. The revolt was, however, a failure, resulting in Hitler's arrest and a crippled Nazi Party virtually unknown outside Munich.

In 1938 the Munich Agreement was signed in the city, ceding the Sudetenland, previously a part of Czechoslovakia, to Germany, which was signed by representatives of Germany, Italy, France and Britain. A year later, in 1939, an assassination attempt against Hitler took place in Munich - an event which could have changed the course of history - but failed.

Munich was the city where the White Rose (German: Die Weisse Rose), a group of students that formed a resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943, was based. They were arrested following a distribution of leaflets in Munich University.

The city was very heavily damaged during the Second World War and, after American occupation in 1945, was rebuilt to a meticulous masterplan.

Sights

The city has several important art museums, among them the Alte Pinakothek[?], Neue Pinakothek[?] and Pinakothek der Moderne[?]. It was also the site of the Blaue Reiter group of artists before World War I. Other famous tourist attractions include the English Garden, a formal garden park roughly in the center of the city which contains a nudist area, the Deutsches Museum (Science Museum), and the Rathaus Glockenspiel, an ornate clock with moving figures atop the town hall. Perhaps Munich's most famous attraction is the Oktoberfest, a 2-week-long celebration of beer running from late September to early October each year.

Other famous buildings in Munich include the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady) and the Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower, a radio and TV broadcasting station).

The Olympiaturm recalls the Munich massacre, which occurred at the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, during which terrorist gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli olympic team. A rescue attempt by the West German government was unsuccessful, and resulted in the deaths of the Israeli hostages, 5 of the terrorists, and one German police officer. The 1974 Soccer World Cup was also held in the city.

Munich is also the site of the headquarters of German company Allianz AG[?], the car manufacturer BMW and the technology firm Siemens AG.

Sister cities

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