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Focus on Munich
Many people in Germany and in the rest of the world might dispute the term city for a settlement of just over 1 million inhabitants. It has often been said that Munich is rather a big village than a city. Whether this nickname has its roots in Munich's reputed provincialism, the comparatively low crime rate or the fact that you can still bring your own picnic to eat in most of the many traditional beer gardens is difficult to say.
Whether village or city, Quilt around the World calls Munich its home. Although neither of us gew up here, we still love and cherish our city with its long and not always happy history, its monuments and museums, its traditions and pecularities. We love taking 'behind the scenes' tours to the many larger and smaller manufacturing companies - no matter if this means watching a BMW carcass being simultaneously assaulted by 12 soldering robots or learning how beer is being brewed in a micro-brewery. This city has a lot to offer, especially if you are willing to look a little further than the average guide book or common preconceptions. Well, doesn't this apply to many towns - and people, for that matter...
If you are in Munich for the first time, bring a good guide book and do some ‘classical’ sightseeing. Then, when you feel that you have stocked up sufficiently on history and architecture, come along with us on a little stroll ‘off the beaten track’. We would like to show you some of our favourite places of inspiration and some interesting shopping opportunities as well.
We will start in the city centre, right in the middle of the Marienplatz. Marienplatz is Munich's town square and dates back to the town's founder Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion) who died in 1195. On Marienplatz, there is a lot to see (the New Town Hall and its famous carillon, the Old Town Hall, St. Peter's Church etc.) and do. However, we will ignore all that now and concentrate on a more frivolous approach to Munich's beauties and temptations.
Ludwig Beck and 'Geknöpft & Zugenäht'
One of the first addresses for upmarket clothes, lingerie, bags, perfume and cosmetics shopping, is Ludwig Beck. The business began its history in 1861 as a manufacturer of buttons and ornamental trimmings. Later, clothing was added to its line of goods. The original building was destroyed during World War II. In 1954, the company acquired the building you see on the picture.
We have put Ludwig Beck on our itinerary not only because of the INTERESTING designs on the walls of its building. The main reason is a separate shop opened some years ago at the rear of the building. This shop is entirely dedicated to haberdashery (notions) of all kinds. It is called 'Geknöpft und Zugenäht' which you could loosely translate into 'Buttoned up and Sewn shut'. You will find a huge selection of buttons, clasps, ribbons, embroidery floss, knitting yarn and much, much more. Even if you don't actually need anything in particular, stop by and have a look. The staff is knowledgeable, helpful and usually friendly.
Geknöpft und Zugenäht is right beside the Old Court, its entrance marked by a tall tower sporting a diamond pattern. The Old Court was the residence of the Bavarian dukes until they became afraid of the increasingly rebellious Munich citizens. The dukes moved out to a then fortified water castle which became known as the Munich Residence. The Old Court's roof truss which dates back to the 14th century miraculously survived World War II and can be visited with an appointment. The Old Court also houses the central information office for Bavarian castles and museums. Here, you can arm yourself with tons of brochures which will awake the globetrotter in even the most confirmed and decided couch potato.
One of our favourite places in Munich is no doubt the Munich Residence. For four centuries (1508 - 1918), it was the seat of the Bavarian dukes and later kings. It is a huge architectural complex that received several additions and was modified numerous times according to the changing fashions in architecture and style. During World War II, the Munich Residence was almost completely destroyed. However, the Munich citizens wanted to keep 'their' Residence and refused to let it be demolished to make way for office buildings and a car park (!). Almost immediately after the war, debris and rubble was removed and makeshift roofs were constructed to prevent further damage. Occasionally, there are 'behind the scenes' tours where you can still see some of these 'makeshift' constructions as well as the foundations of the water castle already mentioned.
Besides its historical importance and our emotional ties to this truly beautiful museum, it is an endless source of inspiration and stimulation for the dedicated quilter. Ornaments, furniture, textiles, stucco, paintings - almost everywhere I can see future quilts and wall hangings that, for centuries have been lurking there waiting for a creative eye to discover.
If you can spare the time, plan a visit to the Munich Residence and its Treasury. You should allow at least two hours for the tour and make sure that you don't miss the Imperial Hall and the Stone Rooms.
Other rooms that you shouldn't just speed through are the Antiquarium, a beautiful Renaissance ball room, the Rich Chapel and the Court Chapel.
The King's Tract with the Nibelungen Halls, the exposition 'Destruction and Reconstruction' and the Royal Apartments is unfortunately closed due to restoration work. On the picture to the left, you can see the scaffolding on the south facade showing King Ludwig I (who built the King's Tract) and his wife Therese benevolently looking down on their subjects.
If the weather is fine, you can relax a little in the Hofgarten (Court's Garden) adjacent to the Residence or have a light lunch or a cappuccino at Tambosi Café which, as its surroundings, looks back to a long tradition serving Munich with Italian delicacies.
Or, if you'd like it a little quieter, turn right into the Emperor's Court, pass through the Apothecaries' Court to the rear of the Munich Residence. Turn right and head towards the Allerheiligen Hofkirche. The Kabinettsgarten tucked in beside the Hofkirche is a surprisingly quiet spot to relax and contemplate.
The Allerheiligen Hofkirche was almost completely destroyed in World War II and was reconstructed comparatively recently. According to modern standards of restoration, it was left in a rather bare faced state. Unfortunately, the rich ornaments it once posessed only survive in a few publications (to our knowledge only available in German) and photos.
We will now head back towards Marienplatz taking the Residenzstraße between the Residence and the Feldherrenhalle, passing the Opera, the Old Post Office and Dallmayr Delikatessen (all on the left) until we reach the northeast side of the New Town Hall.
Johanna Daimer e. K. - Deeply Felt
One of the first small shops integrated in the New Town Hall is Johanna Daimer e. K., a shop that has sold every imaginable qualitiy of felt since 1883. The small shop is usually quite crowded and the staff is knowledgable and friendly. Often, though, it is apparent that this shop does very good business. You may well have to wait until a telephone order has been dealt with appropriately. It is, however, worth the wait.
If you only had a cappuccino at Tambosi's, you are probably really hungry by now. Of all the Bavarian restaurants in the city centre, we prefer 'Paulaner im Tal'. It is located to the east of Marienplatz in the direction of Isartor. It is not as swamped with tourists and the food is very good. Make sure that you visit the toilet (restroom) downstairs.
From Paulaner im Tal, we walk towards the Viktualienmarkt (Food Market), also a favourite spot of ours. The Viktualienmarkt has a very long history and despite being a place of commerce and rather ambitious prices, it has maintained its traditions, a beer garden in the midst of all the stalls and vendors, a Maibaum and a number of little fountains depicting well known Munich characters. Just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells...
Just a stone's throw away from the Viktualienmarkt, you will find several VERY INTERESTING shops.
Quilt & Textilkunst
Quilt & Textilkunst was founded in 1998 by Christine Köhne who quickly won herself an international reputation for surface design and mixed media. You will find all kinds of dyes, paints, stamps, hand-dyed fabrics, foils, glues etc. to transform a piece of fabric into a work of art. Besides all these accessories for surface design, Quilt & Textilkunst offers a large range of cotton fabric, several kinds of batting, some quilting stencils, a full range of notions and a large selection of books (mostly in English, also some German titles).
Since moving the premises a few years ago, Christine now has a small gallery to the rear or the shop. She has several exhibitions each year, usually with an emphasis on free form quilts in wallhanging size.
Just opposite Quilt & Textilkunst, you will find
La Maison Francaise
La Maison Francaise sells all kinds of products from the south of France, including fabric, mostly machine-stitched boutis (the traditional wholecloth quilts typical for the south of France) and lavender.
And lavender is what we bought on our last visit to this shop - plus a small piece of fabric also from the south of France...
Coming out of 'La Maison Francaise', turn left. You are now at Jakobsplatz, home to the Stadtmuseum and the fairly new Ohel Jakob Synagoge and Jewish Museum. If you plan to visit the synagoge - very impressive modern building - you need to start organizing weeks or even months ahead. It is necessary to join a guided tour and hand in a list of all participants no later than a week before the intended visit.
At the west entrance of Jakobsplatz, we will cross the street at the lights and continue straight ahead into the small street leading up to Sendlinger Straße.
F. Radspieler & Comp.
We will cross Sendlinger Straße and turn into Hackenstraße to visit Radspieler.
This very fine shop has a long tradition and goes back to the year 1848 when Joseph Radspieler founded a gilding shop that was frequented by everyone who was rich and famous in Munich then. Even the king - King Ludwig II - was a customer and bought thrones and other pieces of furniture from Joseph Radspieler.
Today, Radspieler is still owned by descendants of the founder. You can find pottery, tableware, kitchen utensils, table linen, furniture, out of the ordinary clothing, bags and decorative items. But we wouldn't have mentioned Radspieler for these products alone, may they be as fine and luxurious as can be. We love to go to Radspieler's for their large selection of beautiful and out of the ordinary silks and their shelves and shelves of (cotton) fabric. These are not your typical quilt fabrics, but colonial-style prints, toile, lots of solids in different weights, Marimekko fabrics, checks, plaids, and, ok, yes, a few bolts of quilt fabric.
You are probably dead on your feet by now and hardly ably to carry your shopping bags anymore. To relax a little and 'recharge your batteries', we recommend Café Weber in the Herzogspitalstraße close by.
From here, it is only a short walk either to Marienplatz or Karlsplatz, whichever best suits you for getting back home or to your hotel.
If you happen to be in Munich either in May, July or October, we suggest that you visit the Auer Dult, a fair that is held three times a year for a little over a week. It dates back to the 13th century. Nowadays, people go to the Auer Dult to buy all kinds of kitchen stuff (if you don't find it at the Auer Dult, it doesn't exist), spices, to have your scissors and knives sharpened and to listen to vendors selling nifty household gadgets which, with a few laudable exceptions, never work as well at home as at the vendor's booth. Children can ride a pony, buy lottery tickets and everyone can ride on a very old Ferris Wheel. And on top of all that amusement, you can browse numerous stalls selling antiquities and bric-à-brac.
For details, go to Upcoming Events where we have posted the dates of the next Auer Dult.
Have we forgotten anything? Do you know other destinations in and around Munich with textile or even quilt focus? Please use the comment area below for additions, questions and stories that you remember about Munich!
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