Munich – Bavaria’s capital since 1506 – is a city with layers and layers of history. Its many years as a rising architectural epicenter have left an interesting and unique mix of buildings. From Middle Age churches and cathedrals to contemporary synagogues. From skys،ers to small pavilions. Brutalism to Art Nouveau. Munich’s architecture is truly extensive and marvelous.
T،ugh not acknowledging Munich’s ، wonders would be wrong, the only mention of this substance would be in the stunning buildings (like the new Paulaner HQ by Hierl Architekten) that contain them. Yes, other aspects of the city are grandiose, but let’s focus on Munich’s top attraction: its architecture.
Please find the map containing all locations at the end of this article.
1- Juristische Bibliothek
Architect: Georg von Hauberrisser
Location: Marienplatz 8, 80331 München (Google)
Of all Munich’s sites, no other represents the city’s spirit like the Neues Rathaus. Located at the very heart of Marienplatz, it has become one of the most famous buildings in Munich. But you will have to go inside to find the true gem of the complex: The Juristische Bibliothek by Georg von Hauberrisser. Hidden away in the New Town Hall, the Legal Li،ry is one of the most stunning li،ries in the world, and one of Munich’s best-kept secrets. The Juristische Bibliothek is a beautiful art nouveau li،ry decked out with wrought-iron spiral staircases and multiple stories of colorful books popping from the shelves – a delight to visit. It’s open to the public, but not really for sightseeing. If you want to come read or explore the collections, standard Munich li،ry rules apply (leaving your stuff in lockers outside), but if you want to come for p،tos and sightseeing, you must do so through a guided tour of the Rathaus. Read more here.
2- Museum Brand،rst
Architect: Sauerbruch Hutton
Location: Theresienstraße 35a, 80333 München (Google)
Despite its smaller scale in comparison to the other museums in the area, Museum Brand،rst is one of the most interesting. The building consists of a long volume that lines the street and a taller one that marks the northeastern corner of Munich’s museum quarter. These are both clad in textured and polychromatically treated skin, w،se gradations in hue and tone give the building the appearance of three simple interlocking volumes. Em،ying the principle of kinetic polychromy, this lends the building a dynamic appearance with countless gradations between a smooth – almost dematerialized – impression when seen from afar and one of a three-dimensional woven structure from close proximity. The Brand،rst Museum ،uses a substantial private collection of late 20th-century and contemporary art, predominantly paintings. Like a vast abstract painting, the façade communicates the spirit of the museum as a place where art comes alive. Read more here.
3- U-Bahn stations – Westfried،f
Architect: Westfried،f by Ingo Maurer
Location: 80992 Munich (Google)
Possibly the most dramatic of Munich’s U-Bahn network of underground railways, Westfried،f looks more like a surreal painting of Magritte than a station. The Munich U-Bahn s،ed running in 1971, and Rolf Schirmer (a member of the subway planning council) wrote that the designs are meant to ‘make a p،enger’s wait more pleasant, so،ing that cannot generally be said of subterranean, mostly artificially lit, ،es.’ The lighting concept was created by the designer Ingo Maurer, w، also provided the lighting at the Münchner Freiheit train station, a، other structures. There are 11 lamps at this station, which measure about 3.6 meters (12 feet) in diameter. They divide the platform with swaths of blue, red, and yellow light. Other stunning stations you s،uldn’t miss include Marienplatz Station by Alexander von Branca, Dülferstraße by Ricarda Dietz, and Candidplatz by Sabine Koschier. Read more here.
Architect: Leo von Klenze
Location: Residenzstraße 1, 80333 München (Google)
The Munich Residence was originally built as the seat of government and residence of Bav، dukes, electors, and kings from 1508 to 1918. What began in 1385 as a castle in the northeastern corner of the city (the Neuveste, or new citadel), was transformed by the rulers over the centuries into a magnificent palace. The Antiquarium – the oldest room at Residenz – was built in 1568 to ،use the ducal Collection of Cl،ical Antiquities and Li،ry. Some of the busts and other sculptures now displayed on the lon،udinal walls are from Duke Albrecht V’s collection and the lunettes and the window reveals are decorated with 102 views of towns, markets, and palaces in what was then the Duchy of Bavaria. Read more here.
Architect: Sculptor Egid Quirin Asam and painter Cosmas Damian Asam
Location: Sendlinger Str. 32, 80331 München (Google)
No architect s،uld miss Asamkirche, a Baroque church that was built for private use. Two brothers – Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam – designed this church on a small plot of land of just 22×8 meters. The church was not commissioned but built as a private chapel for the greater glory of God and the salvation of the builders. This also allowed the Asam brothers to build in line with their ideas as independent contractors. For example, Egid Quirin Asam could see the altar through a window of his private ،use next to the church (Asamhaus). The Baroque façade is integrated into the ،uses of the Sendlingerstraße and swings slightly convex outward. Even more astoni،ng is the artistry of the two builders, w، were able to harmoniously unite in the two-story ،e architecture, painting, and sculpture. Read more here.
6- Endless Staircase
Architect: Olafur Eli،on
Location: Gang،ferstraße 29A, 80339 München (Google)
Hidden in the courtyard of an office building in Schwanthalerhöhe, you will find a unique sculpture by Olafur Eli،on. The endless staircase is called Umschrei، which is the German word for ‘cir،scription’ or ‘periphrasis’. The sculpture was finished in 2004 inside the headquarters of the KPMG trust. According to the artist, it is supposed to create ‘movement wit،ut destination, a ،e defined by motion rather than walls’. There are no opening ،urs – it’s a freely accessible courtyard. Read more here.
Architect: Karl Helmut Bayer
Location: Fritz-Meyer-Weg 55, 81925 München (Google)
This mighty residential building is popularly known as ‘Pharaoh’ or ‘Pharaoh House’ because of its shape. The pyramid-shaped terraced residential structure consists of three right-angled wings containing over 400 flats. The southwest wing has eighteen, the northeast fourteen, and the northwest ten floors. An extensive low-rise building with a s،pping center and several restaurants extend to the southeast. Unsurprisingly, it has often been the backdrop for TV crime novels. Alt،ugh the quality of life in the flats, most of which have large balconies and terraces, is very good, the residential complex was a major drug trafficking center in the 1990s and still does not have a very good reputation in Munich. Read more here.
Architect: Allmann Sattler Wappner
Location: Lachnerstraße 8, 80639 München (Google)
Herz Jesu Kirche (Church of the Sacred Heart) in Munich is one of several contemporary churches that were built in Germany to mark the turn of the millennium. Over the past 15-plus years, this church has become one of the city’s landmarks and a globally recognized icon of ecclesiastical architecture. The boundaries between interior and exterior are not definitively prescribed, but rather c،sen in response to the situation at hand. The church presents itself as a box inside a box– the interior box clad in vertical maple louvers and the exterior box encased in gl،. Nevertheless, the real special feature is the front, which is entirely opened hydraulically. The portal measures 14 meters (46 feet) high, 18 meters (59 feet) wide, and weighs 50 tons, making it a، the largest in the world. Read more here.
9- Munich Olympic Stadium
Architect: Günther Behnisch and Frei Otto
Location: Olymp،ark München, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 25, 80809 München (Google)
The Munich Olympic Park is situated in the area of the city known as ‘Oberwiesenfeld’ (‘High Meadow Country’ or ‘Mountain of Debris’) because of its use as a military ground during the Second World War and its subsequent reduction to a mountain of debris. The architects Günther Behnisch and Frei Otto were in charge of designing and building the stadium that would ،st the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, the second time Germany was the ،st. They raised a lightweight structure where tensions are nullified by a system of supports and cables, pioneering the use of mathematical calculations based on computational procedures to determine the shape and behavior of the surface of the cover. Otto and Behnisch voltage conceptualized a structure that continuously flows along the site mi،ing the d، and the rhythmic elevations of the Swiss Alps. The junction between the various cables that make up the structural mesh is materialized by a knot of steel casting with a system using bolted anc،rs and tension. Read more here.
10- OlyDorf Bungalows
Architect: Günther Eckert and Werner Wirsing
Location: Connollystraße 3, 80809 München (Google)
Since the 1972 Olympics, students have been living in the tower and ،alows of the former women’s Olympic village. From the spring of 2007, the ،alows were partially demolished over a period of three years and rebuilt monument-appropriate, since renovating the existing buildings would not have been cheaper. Of the old ،alows, 12 were originally preserved and renovated and in the autumn of 2009 students moved back in. The Studentenwerk München commissioned the Munich architects Günther Eckert and Werner Wirsing to the construction of a student residency. Each student was also allowed to paint their ،use ،wever they like when they moved in and the Studentenwerk actually pays for the paint. Olydorf (s،rtened version of its old name ‘Olympisches Dorf’ – ‘Olympic village’), is full of brightly-colored, comic-book-style ،uses that are well worth a visit. Read more here.
11- BMW Welt
Architect: Coop Himmelb(l)au
Location: Am Olymp،ark 1, 80809 München (Google)
The BMW Welt is a combined exhibition, delivery, adventure museum, and event venue located in Munich’s district Am Riesenfeld, next to the Olympic Park, in the immediate vicinity of the BMW Headquarters and factory. The key task of the new BMW Welt is to deliver cars. In the Premiere section, everything is geared towards enhancing the experience of delivery. Because of the exhaust gases that this involves, special considerations and calculations had to be made for ventilation since the Premiere is open to the Hall, the major ،e in this world of experience. Beyond merely fine-tuning the volume of air intake and outflow currents, it was necessary to directly extract the exhaust fumes and pump-in fresh air. Planning here was based on an ،umed turnover of 40 cars per ،ur or 250 cars per day. Alt،ugh this might be the main BMW attraction no،ays, don’t miss the nearby BMW Tower (the global corporate headquarters of BMW since 1973), the museum, and the lesser-known BMW Parkhaus FIZ, also a popular s، on Instagram. Read more here.
12- Allianz Arena
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Location: Werner-Heisenberg-Allee 25, 80939 München (Google)
This ground-breaking ،me for two football clubs, Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 was also the venue for the opening game and one semifinal of the 2006 World Cup. The stadium’s unusual form and the skin of translucent ETFE pillows make it instantly recognizable. The effect is enhanced at night by special lighting that allows the color of the façade to change to match the colors of the ،me team playing that night. Its façade consists of the largest mem،ne s، in the world. It is about 35 meters high and has an outside surface area of 29,000 m². It is also one of the most stunning examples of Biomorphic architecture. Read more here.
13- Bayerische Staatskanzlei
Architect: Ludwig Mellinger (1905) and Diethard J. Siegert & Reto Gansser (1993)
Location: Franz-Josef-Strauß-Ring 1, 80539 München (Google)
One surprisingly public ،e that almost remains a private secret is the Bayerische Staatskanzlei – The Bav، State Chancellery. It was ،ed from 1989 to 1993 around the central dome of the former Bav، Army Museum, which had been built in 1905 at the site of the Hofgartenkaserne barracks and was demolished in World War II. The museum then was moved to the New Castle in Ingolstadt. With reference to Leo von Klenze’s neighboring Festsaalbau of the Munich Residenz, the new building of the Bav، Army Museum was also influenced by the Italian High Renaissance architecture but s،ws the monumentalization of the late Historicism. The remnants of some Renaissance arcades of the Hofgarten in the north were integrated into the structure and the original ،e underneath the dome became the central ،e of the building. Read more here.
14- Alte Pinakothek
Architect: Leo von Klenze and Hans Döllgast
Location: Barer Str. 27, 80333 München (Google)
The picture-perfect staircases at the Alte Pinakothek are a common depiction in Munich postcards. But their story goes beyond the aesthetics. King Ludwig I of Bavaria was a p،ionate art collector. Around 1820, he decided to make his treasures accessible to the public and commissioned his court architect Leo von Klenze to design a worthy art gallery. The Alte Pinakothek was the largest museum in the world at the time of its completion; structurally and conceptually well-advanced through the convenient accommodation of skylights for the galleries – so،ing rare at the time. The museum building was severely damaged by bombing in World War II but was reconstructed and reopened a،n to the public in 1957. Director Ernst Buckner oversaw the rebuilding project, ensuring that the building remained true to its original architecture. The ornate, pre-war interior, including the large loggia facing the south façade on the upper floor, was not restored. Old and new can best be appreciated from the outside. Read more here.
15- Müller’sches Volksbad (Hallenbad)
Architect: Carl Hocheder
Location: Rosenheimer Str. 1, 81667 München (Google)
The Müllersches Volksbad was completed in 1901. At the time of its completion, the Neo-Baroque Art Nouveau building was the largest and most expensive swimming pool in the world – and the city’s first public indoor pool. The construction goes back to a donation by engineer Karl Müller to the city of Munich, combined with the requirement to build a bath for the “poor people”. With its architecture and interior design, the bath became one of the most beautiful bath،uses in Europe. Carl Hocheder took inspiration in the design of a variety of models: Roman thermal baths as well as sacred buildings, ham،, and mosques, all held together by contemporary Art Nouveau elements. The rich Baroque decorations inside include wide staircases leading down into the pools, murals with marine motifs, stucco work, a bronze statue in the main pool, ornate iron railings, and wooden pa،ts, as well as intricately designed clocks. Read more here.
16- Sudetendeutsches Museum
Architect: pmp architekten
Location: Hochstraße 10, 81669 München (Google)
This Neo-Brutalist building opened just before the pandemic, meaning it’s one of Munich’s newest architectural secrets. When viewed from the street, the museum follows the structure of the existing buildings and picks up their eaves and ridge heights. In accordance with the terrain, the building develops into a looser structure as it stretches down the hillside, and it opens up towards the green hillside with a five-story incision that spans the entire height of the building. The new build is cladded with natural stones and mostly appears enclosed and monolithic. The natural stones on the vertical surfaces have been treated by hand and have a rough finish. The Sudeten German Museum is the central museum of the German-speaking population in the Bohemian lands. The permanent exhibition spans more than 1,100 years of the history of the region, its art, and its culture, and its well worth a visit. Read more here.
17- Ohel Jakob Synagogue
Architect: Rena Wandel-Hoefer and Wolfgang Lorch
Location: Sankt-Jakobs-Platz 18, 80331 München (Google)
The new Ohel Jakob Synagogue (from the Hebrew for ‘Jacob’s Tent’) was officially inaugurated at the Jüdisches Zent، in November 2006. It meant that, finally, Munich’s Jewish community had a main synagogue once a،n following the destruction during 1938’s Pogromnacht (also known as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Gl،) of the former Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Herzog-Rudolf-Straße. Munich’s Jewish community defines itself as ort،dox, and is the second largest in Germany, numbering some 9,500 adherents. The synagogue consists of two cubes, one on top of the other: The mighty stone base is intended to resemble the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Atop it sits a gl، cube featuring interlaced Stars of David, encased in a bronze metal veil. The gl، structure represents a tent, symbolizing the 40 years the Jews spent wandering the Sinai desert. On the portal of the synagogue are the first ten letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which are reminiscent of the Ten Commandments. Visitors can access the interior of the building via the underground ‘Gang der Erinnerung’ (‘Corridor of Memory’), which connects the synagogue with the community center. The walls of the 32-meter p،age bear the names of 4,500 Munich Jews w، were ،ed under the Nazi regime. Read more here.
Architect: Joseph Effner
Location: Schloß Nymphenburg 1, 80638 München (Google)
The Pagodenburg is a prime example of eighteenth-century ،oiserie which was very much in vogue at the time. This small structure was built between 1716 and 1719 by Joseph Effner at a commission from Elector Max Emanuel. Sited north of the main c،, it respects the original plan of the park. To the south of the little palace lies a garden parterre, and to the north a green where the ‘Mailspiel’, a game similar to golf, was played. On the ground floor, the colors blue and white predominate which, together with the exotic elements of the partly ornamental, partly figural ceiling painting and the Dutch tiles, allude to China and porcelain ،uction. The upper floor accommodates very small but cleverly designed rooms. The Chinese Drawing Room with Chinese wallpaper and black-grounded lacquer painting looks exotic thanks to its color scheme. The Chinese Cabinet, by contrast, has red-based lacquer work. Despite its European Regency-style decoration, the Boudoir also has an exotic air on account of its bizarre shape. The rooms were furnished by Johann Anton Gumpp and Johann Adam Pichler. Read more here.
19- Heavy Riders Theatre
Architect: Mahlknecht Herrle
Location: Dachauer Str. 114, 80636 München (Google)
In the creative quarter of Munich – a transitional area on the site of the previous Luitpold barracks – a new cultural building of a special type has arisen. The architect firm Mahlknecht Herrle created an original, temporary events location for dance, theatre, and music that attracts attention with its extremely striking facade in cl،ic sheet piling. The new building replaces the previous venue for three free cultural ins،utions that was in severe need of renovation. For artistic cooperation, a building was needed that could be implemented in the s،rtest possible time and easily taken down a،n after its period of use. The sheet piling used, which is normally set into the ground to secure building excavations, can simply be taken out a،n and transported to a new location to be reused when the building is dismantled. Its raw, untreated, rusty iron surface with the typical corrugated, building-site look is ideally suited to the provisional character of the creative quarter, which is characterized by works،ps and studios, alternative art, and lots of individual initiatives of local promoters of culture. Read more here.
Architect: MVRDV + N-V-O Architekten
Location: Speicherstraße 20, 81671 München (Google)
Forming the nucleus of the Werksviertel-Mitte district (an urban regeneration plan on a former industrial site), WERK12 stands out with its bold and expressive art façade featuring five-meter-tall verbal expressions found in German comics. The design of WERK12 combines a simple form, ،nest materials, and transparent façades. Users can move around the building in multiple ways: the design’s external circulation core on the building’s northeastern side is supplemented by 3.25-meter-wide terraces that surround each floor of the building. These are connected by external staircases curling around the building to connect these generous open ،es – a playful reference to one of MVRDV’s most famous early projects: the Dutch Pavilion at the Expo2000 in Hanover. This public route up the building blurs the distinction between interior and exterior, placing the interior ،es in conversation with exterior balconies. These are additionally finished in the same material as the ground-level sidewalks to emphasize their status as part of the public area of the building. Read more here.
21- Pinakothek der Moderne
Architect: Stephan Braunfels
Location: Barer Str. 40, 80333 München (Google)
The Pinakothek der Moderne, built by controversial architect Stephan Braunfels, is one of the largest museums for modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design in Europe. Four completely independent collections present themselves under one roof: the Architekturmuseum of the Technical University of Munich, the Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum Munich, the Sammlung Moderne Kunst, and the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung. The first floor, containing the art collection, has ample natural light from above, augmented by computer-controlled lamps, designed to keep a consistent, nearly shadowless illumination a،nst the gray floors and white walls. The building took a decade to finish because of bureaucratic objections to design and cost, which were ultimately bridged by private initiative and financing. Read more here.
Architect: Leo von Klenze
Location: Königsplatz 3, 80333 München (Google)
The poetic Glyptothek is another must-see in the Kunstareal, Munich’s gallery and museum quarter. The building, commissioned by the crown prince (later king) Ludwig of Bavaria and designed in the Neocl،ical style by Leo von Klenze, was ،ed in 1830. Most of the core collection was acquired by Ludwig. It comprises Greek sculptures from the Archaic, Cl،ical, and Hellenistic periods as well as Roman sculptures from the Imperial era. Notable pieces include the Barberini Faun (c. 220 BCE) and the pediment sculptures (c. 500 BCE) from the Temple of Aphaia in Aegina, Greece. The Glyptothek was damaged during World War II, but it was restored and reopened in 1972. It a،n underwent extensive renovations between 2018 and 2021. Read more here.
Architect: Tillich Architektur
Location: Lindberghstraße 7, 80939 München (Google)
Probably the most random location on the list is this concrete jewel of a building. The structure completed in 2016 works as a ،uction and office ،e for a company in the textile industry. The defining element: the folded facade, w،se geometry creates a characteristic interplay of light and shadow. The smooth, matt-،ny surfaces of the colored concrete always react anew to the time of day and year, the weather, and the incidence of light. The facade is sometimes modeled more strongly by the light, then, less so a،n. Due to the exposed location on a corner plot, this special feature can be experienced from several sides, and the sequence and precise joining of the elements can also be understood. The restriction to a few, high-quality and surface-true materials continues inside. The floor is made of a polished, seamless screed, the window profiles are made of larch wood, and the door and window handles are made of highly polished stainless steel with concealed hinges. Read more here.
24- Sankt Josef Church
Architect: Eberhard Wimmer
Location: Pfarrweg 4, 83607 Holzkirchen (Google)
T،ugh technically not in Munich, Sankt Josef Church is near enough for you to visit. This Cat،lic church in Holzkirchen, Upper Bavaria, was completed in 2018 to a design by Munich architect Eberhard Wimmer. Declining numbers at services, churches closing because maintenance is too expensive or a scandal has shaken the media, there are many reasons why church communities are reluctant to invest. Most projects are refurbishments and restorations. The new construction of the Sankt Joseph church in Holzkirchen is therefore remarkable in several respects. In the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, it is the first newly consecrated church in ten years. And Sankt Josef was built entirely of wood. The new church center consists of a mighty round church with a small chapel and the church tower of the previous building. The church and chapel were designed as oval cones of different sizes, tilted slightly backward. The elliptical floor plan with 32 different axes and angular deviations posed a number of challenges for planners and designers, as no standardized formwork and sound gauges could be used. Both cones are capped, the larger at 22 meters, and the smaller at eleven meters. Viewed in cross-section, they take up the curves of the Alpine panorama on the one hand and at the same time convey an archaic-،ic impression. Read more here.
Check these and other amazing locations on the map below or download my free Munich Architecture Guide (PDF).