If you research the top things to see in Munich, two locations show up on pretty much every list: Frauenkirche and Peterskirche. So who am I to argue? I had to go see them.
On my second morning in Munich I set out to find these two churches, and luckily enough, they are both located within close vicinity to Marienplatz. I almost missed the turn off to get to Frauenkirche. After entering the pedestrian zone of Neuhauser and Kaufinger Straße from Karlsplatz, there is a little street on the left-hand side that is easy to just pass by. It is very nondescript compared to the shopping zone, and has absolutely nothing to tempt you off of the main drag. But after following it for a bit, it opens up into a small plaza with the massive Fraeunkirche towering above you.
Frauenkirche is the most iconic image of Munich. You will see its towers featured on almost every touristy city souvenir you find. The stone foundation of the church was laid in 1468, and construction continued for the next 20 years. Built by German architect Jörg von Halsbach, this Gothic triple-naved cathedral is 358 ft long, with its two towers reaching a height of 325 ft. By law, no new building is allowed to obstruct the view of the cathedral.
Frauenkirche was badly damaged during WWII, when the roof collapsed as a result of allied bombing. It wasn’t fully restored until 1994, though it was under construction again when I visited.
The cathedral was closed when I was there, so sadly I wasn’t able to see any of the interior. However, the inside is supposed to be stunning, fully decorated in the Baroque style and containing a great deal of historic artwork. You can visit the tomb of emperor Ludwig IV, and see the “footprint of the Devil.” Legend has it that architect Jörg von Halsbach promised the Devil he would construct a church in which no windows would be visible from the inside. In return, the Devil would help von Halsbach finish the cathedral. Upon completion, von Halsbach lead the Devil into the center of the church, where indeed there were no visible windows. However, so much light flooded in from above onto the churchgoers, the Devil was infuriated and stamped his foot down with so much rage it left a permanent imprint on the floor. They say the footprint is still visible today. The church’s crypt also holds the remains of the Wittelsbach family, a powerful dynasty which ruled over Bavaria for centuries (whose likenesses are carved into the exterior decor of the Neues Rathaus in Marienplatz).
Definitely a cool church to visit. Though if you go, try to go inside. I’m sure it looks amazing!
And then on to Peterskirche! To get there, go back the direction you came, cross Marienplatz, and then continue going into the part of town on the other side of the square (more or less…consult a map for specifics, but know it is a fairly short and easy walk).
Built on the site of an 8th century monastery, Peterskirche was constructed between 1328-1368 in the Romanesque style, later adding elements of Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles. It was almost completely destroyed during WWII, and reconstruction wasn’t completed until 2000.
Obviously just seeing the historic architecture is really cool, but the best part of Peterskirche is going up into the steeple to get to the viewing platform.
Open daily in the summer Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., and in the winter Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Admission is around EUR 1.50 (at the time of visit in 2014).
The climb is intense. Lots and lots of stairs…306 to be precise. But there is no other way to reach the top, so this visit is definitely not for anyone who has a problem with climbing stairs, a fear of heights, or issues with being in small-ish spaces. I was lucky and there were hardly any other people there when I was, but I hear the stairs can get pretty congested when it is busy and it can take a long time to reach the platform. For me, it only took as long as it takes to climb 306 stairs (which is roughly 17 stories…yikes).
I actually thought the climb was a lot of fun though. It was cool to climb to the top of a church tower. And my goodness…the views at the top were incredible!! This is the best place to go to see the city from above. The Neues Rathaus has a viewing platform too, but Peterskirche is a much cooler experience and has a better vantage point. Definitely worth the admission fee and effort.
Without a doubt, this was my favorite sight to see in Munich.
A photo of the viewing platform from the outside…I wanted to document what I had just conquered haha.
And then here are a few pictures from my journey back to my hotel:
I guess I can safely say that all the Munich guidebooks aren’t lying. These two churches are definitely must-see sights in the city.