Königsplatz (Kings Square)
Situated in the middle of Munich’s art gallery area (Kunstareal), Königsplatz or otherwise Kings Square is a large plaza featuring magnificent neo-greek architecture surrounded by inviting lawns and shady trees. Visitors upon their arrival at Königsplatz will not long wonder why Munich earnt itself the title of “the German Athens” and will be intrigued by the rich history of the buildings and that of the general vicinity.
Originally a project of Bavarian King Ludwig I in the early 1800’s, his initial ideas surrounding Königsplatz were to provide the city with a plaza that embodied the city’s ambitions of being known for its rich cultural life, civic ideals, Catholic Christianity, royal administration and the military, all embedded in natural greenery. The architect Karl von Fischer was chiefly responsible for the layout of the area while famous royal architect Leo von Klenze took the lead in designing the accompanying state buildings. Today Königsplatz and the surrounding royal boulevard of Brienner Straße are considered some of the finest civic works in Bavaria and make it easy to be impressed by the ambitions of the rulers, architects and engineers working at the time.
On either side of the square upon entry you’ll see to one side the State Antiquities Collection (Staatliche Antikensammlungen) housing one of the world’s most important Greek & Roman pottery collections. Then on the other side immediately opposite we find Munich’s oldest public museum, the Glyptothek housing Ludwig I’s collection of Greek & Roman statues and the world famous Barberini Faun from 220BC. Both museums together for the kern of Munich’s Kunstareal and for those intrigued by artifacts from antiquity make for some very interesting and inspiring hours.
The most striking adornment for Königsplatz would undoubtedly be the Propylaea, a classical greek monumental gate erected not only as a grand entrance way into the city for the local Wittelsbach royal family, but also in dedication to Ludwig I’s son Otto who became king of Greece after the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire.
Sadly Königsplatz fell to less inspiring purposes during the time of National Socialism in Munich and the plaza was used for book burnings and as a parade ground for Hitler’s troops. On the outer perimeter of Königsplatz still stand various buildings built for or used by the national socialists and serve as a reminder of those times. The nearby National Socialism Documentation Centre (NS-Dokumentationszentrum) is a free museum where more can be learnt about the Nazi party and their doings in Munich during their reign.