Most people probably know Munich as the home of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. Some are also aware that the city has numerous museums, parks, and of course, beer gardens. Plus it’s a booming European hotspot for digital nomads. But how much do you really know about the capital of Bavaria? Well, fret not as we share with you 10 brilliant and/or bizarre facts about Munich!

Here’s a little preview… Munich was once saved by beer from being burned down (and no, they didn’t douse the flames with frothy pints!). Did you also know that it’s one of the safest cities in the world? And that BMW has its own postal code here?

Without further ado, let’s dive into… 

10 fantastic facts about Munich

1. Munich is one of the world’s safest cities

Travelers planning on visiting here will be especially delighted to know this fantastic fact about Munich: It has a low crime rate compared with other major cities.The city ranked #9 among the world’s safest cities in Numbeo’s Safety Index by City for 2021. 

Moreover, recent statistics from the website also show us that Munich’s safety index is currently at 81.29 (which is very good news!). Its overall level of crime, meanwhile, is “very low” at 13.14. The data further confirms that people in Munich do not worry much about being mugged, attacked, or insulted. No wonder citizens and tourists alike feel safe enough to walk alone, whether it’s day or night time in Munich.  

2. Munich is BMW’s place of birth

photograph showing BMW car hood with logo

Image 2 source: Pexels

Next on our list of facts about Munich is this: It’s the hometown of famed luxury vehicle brand BMW. 

For those not in the know, BMW – or Bayerische Motoren Werke – translates to Bavarian Motor Works.

Initially created in 1917 from Munich firm Rapp-Motorenwerke, the former aircraft engine manufacturer later ventured into the automobile industry, according to the BMW website. By the 1930s, BMW had already started introducing sports cars and luxury cars to the market.

Fast forward to the present, BMW continues to operate from its main headquarters in Munich. It also has a dedicated museum in the city where BMW enthusiasts can learn about the company’s history and even check out future car releases. 

Plus, did you know that BMW even has its very own ZIP code in Munich? It’s 80788 – pretty cool, right?!

3. Adidas designed vomit-proof shoes for Oktoberfest

Ever had a pal who partied too much puke on your shoes? Well, that probably happens a bit more often in Munich during Oktoberfest!

In a smart marketing move, Adidas decided to address the “problem” and came up with a clever solution. 

In 2017, the Three Stripes Company dropped the limited edition Oktoberfesterization, a pair of shoes specifically made for the world famous beer festival. The $238 product can “repel beer and vomit, as well pretty much any other liquid you can throw, drop, or pour on it,” Fortune reported.

The business magazine likewise pointed out that the kicks took inspiration from traditional Bavarian leather pants. Each pair also came with an exclusive beer mug.  

Now that’s how you market to beer and shoe lovers at the same time!

4. Sundays are rest days in Munich

Unlike other busy modern cities, the residents of Munich consider Sunday to be a day of rest. Finding shops that are open on Sundays can be quite a challenge. 

As the official Munich website tells us, “all shops, except petrol stations and bakeries, are closed on Sundays.”

Generally, locals take the opportunity to nap on Sundays. Many choose to spend quality time with their loved ones. Common activities include checking out museums, visiting public parks, and dining out in cafes and restaurants. 

5. Jimi Hendrix’ first onstage guitar smash happened here

Singer, songwriter and musician Jimi Hendrix is a rock music icon in his own right. His legendary songwriting talents and compelling stage presence captured fans’ attention everywhere. Best of all, he forever revolutionized rock music as we know it. “He manipulated the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio and the stage,” noted Rolling Stone, ranking him as #1 in their 100 Greatest Guitarists list. 

Perhaps unknown to most, his first guitar smash happened in a little venue in Munich. On November 9, 1966, Hendrix played in the Big Apple Club – and it was a wild gig, to say the least. A Sweetwater feature summed it up this way:  

“Fans became so excited that they literally pulled him off the stage, breaking the neck of his guitar. Jimi then smashed the remains of his guitar – a harbinger of things to come.”

Hendrix would later smash his instruments whenever the mood struck him and the act helped him gain even more fame. A year later, he would take his game to the next level by introducing another crazy onstage antic. He started dousing his guitars with lighter fluid and then setting them on fire. 

What an absolute legend.

6. Munich loves football

Of course, no list of facts about Munich is ever complete without discussing football. 

Residents are huge fans of the sport and are fiercely supportive of their hometown heroes, the FC Bayern Munich. In fact, football league Bundesliga has often described the team as “the best-supported club in world football” and as Germany’s “most successful club.”

A quick glance at the official FC Bayern site will reveal that, so far, the team has won national and international competitions including:

    • German Championship (32 victories)
    • DFB German Cup (20 victories)
    • German Supercup (11 victories)
    • League Cup (6 victories)
    • Champions League (6 victories)
    • Intercontinental Cup (2 victories)
    • FIFA Club World Cup (2 victories)
    • UEFA Supercup (2 victories)
    • UEFA Cup (1 victory)
    • UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1 victory) 

Munich also has the FC Bayern Museum where visitors can learn about the club’s history, see the trophies, and buy souvenirs. 

7. Munich is the river surfing capital of the world

photograph showing a man river surfing in Eisbach in Munich

Image 3 source: Unsplash

If you go to Google and search for “river surfing capital of the world,” the top results will immediately show Munich. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia dubs the city as “the birthplace of river surfing” and “the world’s largest urban surfing spot.”

Surfers flock to the 2-kilometer long Eisbach River to ride the human-made waves. The place has become a big attraction since the activity picked up popularity in the 1970s. Eisbach, which literally translates to “ice brook,” is conveniently located near downtown Munich. River surfing competitions are often held there.

While people are welcome to river surf all year round, be warned, however, that Eisbach isn’t recommended for beginners. Besides, a sign at the location warns: 

“Due to forceful current, the Eisbach wave is suitable for skilled and experienced surfers only.”

8. A religious fresco portraying a man with a pretzel

It’s practically impossible to miss the fresco as you enter Catholic church Heilig-Geist-Kirche. If you look closely, however, you will spot one curious detail in the central ceiling mural. Believe it or not, one of the men depicted in the religious painting is actually holding a pretzel.

Known as the Brezenreiter (“Pretzel Rider”), the bearded man can be seen wearing “a brown robe, holding a basket of pretzels in his left hand.” Behind him is a man in blue who has received one of the pretzels being distributed.  

We get some clarity in the Brezenreiter website where we are told the story behind the fabled figure from way back in 1318:

“The Brezenreiter, with his horse, rode through Munich once a year. His simple mission: He announced the pretzel donation that the Wadlers (Burkard and his wife Heilwig) had donated to the poor with 65 pounds of pfennigs.”

To this day, the people of Munich still often associate pretzels with sharing and good fortune.

9. The Albert Einstein connection

Born in Ulm, Albert Einstein’s family would later move to Munich in 1880 when he was merely a year old. By age five, the boy started attending a Catholic elementary school in the Bavarian capital.   

Although we now know and respect him as one of the most influential physicists of all time, Einstein also took odd jobs in his youth. Apparently, he worked in the Oktoberfest of 1896. A Thrillist feature shares with us that the genius “once earned a living as an electrician of sorts, helping to set up one of the beer tents.”

10. Beer saved the city from destruction

And finally (for now), as mind-boggling as that may sound, it’s true! Beer once saved Munich from utter destruction.  

According to history, Sweden’s King Gustavus Adolphus invaded Munich and threatened to burn the city during the 30-year war in 1632. The ruler, however, had one condition in mind. He offered to “leave the city in peace if the citizens surrendered some hostages, and 600,000 barrels of Hofbräuhaus beer.”

So fortunately, annihilation was averted – thanks to the power of Bavaria’s most famous beverage. What else can we say but… Cheers to that!

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many must-know facts about Munich. If you’re planning to travel here soon, prepare to discover the city’s culture, history, and beauty. The capital of Bavaria really has so much to offer, whether you’re coming here for the first time or are a returning visitor. Willkommen!

Featured image source: Pexels

Related Posts