Munich (; also in UK English; ,) is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria, on the banks of River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, with a population of around 1.49 million. The Munich Metropolitan Region is home to 5.6 million people.
The name of the city is derived from the Old High German term Munichen, meaning "by the monks". It derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who ran a monastery at the place that was later to become the Old Town of Munich; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat of arms. Munich was first mentioned in 1158. From 1255 the city was seat of the Bavarian Dukes. Black and gold — the colours of the Holy Roman Empire — have been the city's official colours since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian, when it was an imperial residence. Following a final reunification of the Wittelsbachian Duchy of Bavaria, previously divided and sub-divided for more than 200 years, the town became the country's sole capital in 1506. Catholic Munich was a cultural stronghold of the Counter-Reformation and a political point of divergence during the resulting Thirty Years' War, but remained physically untouched despite an occupation by the Protestant Swedes; as the townsfolk would rather open the gates of their town than risk siege and almost inevitable destruction. Like wide parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the area recovered slowly economically. Having evolved from a duchy's capital into that of an electorate (1623), and later a sovereign kingdom (1806), Munich has been a centre of arts, culture and science since the early 19th century. The city became the Nazi movement's infamous Hauptstadt der Bewegung (lit.: "Capital of the movement"), and after post-war reconstruction was the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Munich is home to many national and international authorities, major universities, major museums and theaters. Its numerous architectural attractions, international sports events, exhibitions, conferences and Oktoberfest attract considerable tourism. Since 2006, the city's motto has been "" ("Munich loves you"). Munich is a traffic hub with excellent international, national and local connections, running a fast and reliable public transport system. It is a centre of finance, publishing and advanced technologies. Munich is one of the most prosperous and fastest growing cities in Germany, and the seat of numerous corporations and insurance companies. It is a top-ranked destination for migration and expatriate location, despite being the municipality with the highest density of population (4,500 inh. per km²) in Germany. Munich achieved fourth place in the frequently quoted Mercer livability rankings in 2011 and 2012. For economic and social innovation, the city was ranked 15th globally out of 289 cities in 2010, and 5th in Germany by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index based on analysis of 162 indicators. In 2013, Monocle ranked Munich as the world's most livable city with the highest quality of life.
Origin as medieval town
The year 1158 is assumed to be the foundation date, which is the earliest date the city is mentioned in a document. The document was signed in Augsburg. By that time the Guelph Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, had built a bridge over the river Isar next to a settlement of Benedictine monks—this was on the Old Salt Route and a toll bridge.
In 1175, Munich was officially granted city status and received fortification. In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria and Munich was handed over to the Bishop of Freising. (Wittelsbach's heirs, the Wittelsbach dynasty, would rule Bavaria until 1918.) In 1240, Munich was transferred to Otto II Wittelsbach and in 1255, when the Duchy of Bavaria was split in two, Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria.
Duke Louis IV was elected German king in 1314 and crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. He strengthened the city's position by granting it the salt monopoly, thus assuring it of additional income. In the late 15th century Munich underwent a revival of gothic arts—the Old Town Hall was enlarged, and Munich's largest gothic church, now a cathedral—the Frauenkirche—constructed in only twenty years, starting in 1468.
Capital of reunited Bavaria
When Bavaria was reunited in 1506, Munich became its capital. The arts and politics became increasingly influenced by the court (see Orlando di Lasso, Heinrich Schuetz and later Mozart and Richard Wagner). During the 16th century Munich was a centre of the German counter reformation, and also of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V commissioned the Jesuit Michaelskirche, which became a centre for the counter-reformation, and also built the Hofbräuhaus for brewing brown beer in 1589. The Catholic League was founded in Munich in 1609. In 1623 during the Thirty Years' War Munich became electoral residence when Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria was invested with the electoral dignity but in 1632 the city was occupied by Gustav II Adolph of Sweden. When the bubonic plague broke out in 1634 and 1635 about one third of the population died. Under the regency of the Bavarian electors Munich was an important centre of baroque life but also had to suffer under Habsburg occupations in 1704 and 1742.
In 1806, the city became the capital of the new Kingdom of Bavaria, with the state's parliament (the Landtag) and the new archdiocese of Munich and Freising being located in the city. Twenty years later Landshut University was moved to Munich. Many of the city's finest buildings belong to this period and were built under the first three Bavarian kings. Later Prince Regent Luitpold's years as regent were marked by tremendous artistic and cultural activity in Munich (see Franz von Stuck and Der Blaue Reiter).
World War I to World War II
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, life in Munich became very difficult, as the Allied blockade of Germany led to food and fuel shortages. During French air raids in 1916, three bombs fell on Munich. After World War I, the city was at the centre of much political unrest. In November 1918 on the eve of revolution, Ludwig III and his family fled the city. After the murder of the first republican premier of Bavaria Kurt Eisner in February 1919 by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, the Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. When Communists had taken power, Lenin, who had lived in Munich some years before, sent a congratulatory telegram, but the Soviet Republic was put down on 3 May 1919 by the Freikorps. While the republican government had been restored, Munich subsequently became a hotbed of extremist politics, among which Adolf Hitler and the National Socialism rose to prominence.
The city once again became a Nazi stronghold when the National Socialists took power in Germany in 1933. The National Socialist Workers Party created their first concentration camp at Dachau, north-west of the city. Because of its importance to the rise of National Socialism, Munich was referred to as the Hauptstadt der Bewegung ("Capital of the Movement"). The NSDAP headquarters was in Munich and many Führerbauten ("Führer-buildings") were built around the Königsplatz, some of which have survived to this day.
The city is known as the site of the culmination of the policy of appeasement employed by Britain and France leading up to World War II. It was in Munich that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assented to the annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region into Greater Germany in the hopes of sating the desires of Hitler's Third Reich.
Munich was the base of the White Rose, a student resistance movement from June 1942 to February 1943. The core members were arrested and executed following a distribution of leaflets in Munich University by Hans and Sophie Scholl.
The city was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II — the city was hit by 71 air raids over a period of five years.
After US occupation in 1945, Munich was completely rebuilt following a meticulous and — by comparison to other war-ravaged West German cities— rather conservative plan which preserved its pre-war street grid. In 1957 Munich's population passed the 1 million mark.
Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian fedayeen in the Munich massacre, when gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team.
Most Munich residents enjoy a high quality of life. Mercer HR Consulting consistently rates the city among the top 10 cities with the highest quality of life worldwide — a 2011 survey ranked Munich as 4th. The same company also ranks Munich as the world's 39th most expensive city to live in and the most expensive major city in Germany. Munich enjoys a thriving economy, driven by the information technology, biotechnology, and publishing sectors. Environmental pollution is low, although as of 2006 the city council is concerned about levels of particulate matter (PM), especially along the city's major thoroughfares. Since the enactment of EU legislation concerning the concentration of particulate in the air, environmental groups such as Greenpeace have staged large protest rallies to urge the city council and the State government to take a harder stance on pollution.
Today, the crime rate is low compared with other large German cities, such as Hamburg or Berlin. For its high quality of life and safety the city has been nicknamed "Toytown" among the English-speaking residents. German inhabitants call it "Millionendorf", an expression which means "village of a million people".