Among Europe’s largest cities, one of the finest examples of Old World tradition and New World technology is Munich. Hotels built centuries ago offer visitors a taste of the past alongside modern amenities such as wireless Internet connections. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that Munich hotels and historical buildings lay in ruins. Surprisingly, much of Munich’s restoration could not have happened without the help of the Nazis.
Munich during wartime
As you stand in one of the fine Munich hotels, it’s easy to forget that sixty years ago the building was probably in ruins. As the Allies pushed into Germany at the end of World War Two, Munich was hit hard by British and American bombers. Fierce resistance turned most of the city into a bleak, rubble-strewn landscape. Hundreds of years of history and culture was about to be lost to future generations.
As the Nazis withdrew from the area, much of Munich’s art was taken with them. However, you can’t just load a building on a truck. As a result of the chaos, the amazing architecture of Munich hotels and landmarks was going to be lost.
In an effort to preserve what they could, the Nazis sent hordes of soldiers to photograph the many architectural wonders of Munich. Hotels, museums, libraries, churches and other buildings were meticulously documented on film in hopes that they could be restored if Germany won the war.
A city is rebuilt
It is not easy to completely rebuild a city, and yet little of Munich remained after the war was over. A fierce debate broke out over how to rebuild the city. With a clean slate, some felt the city should be redesigned in a modern image. Others felt that the city should be restored to its former glory with the use of the recovered photographs. The final vote was close, but Munich chose to maintain its Old World traditions and to this day strict building regulations affect the construction of new Munich hotels, offices, and apartments.
Munich may have preserved its history, but that does not mean it has ignored the modern world. The city has always had strong progressive politics even as the country’s government has wavered between the left and the right. The Munich city government feels that the past and the future can co-exist and have made the city into a shining example of how two seemingly incompatible ideas can be fused into something better.
It is certainly possible to get around the city by car, but the environment is especially friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. “Blade Mondays” are something to behold, as the city center is closed to vehicle traffic and as many as 30,000 in-line skaters swarm the area in a huge, constantly moving celebration.
Munich for the tourist
Munich hotels work hard to accommodate the needs of today’s business and personal traveler. The buildings are breathtaking examples of the architectural arts at their finest, but tourists still find all the luxuries and amenities to which they have become accustom. An extensive public transport system puts all Munich hotels a short walk away from the best attractions.