Munich's more than one thousand bridges and landing stages connect different parts of the city, people and histories. They are not just a way of getting from one side of the Isar to the other, they also reveal the city's diversity.
It is one of Munich's best-known bridges: the Reichenbachbrücke connects the popular Glockenbachviertel (quarter) with the peaceful Au (quarter). Up to the 20th century, the daily routine was still dominated by a lively farm business - pigs and fish were bred, and their milk sold. The life blood, the Auer Mühlbach (stream), remains. And the Au still retains much of its village-like charm today. Turn off into streets like the Nockherstrasse with their old lodging houses and you'll feel a long way from the big city. The Auer Dult, originally a tableware market, but now also a folk festival and antiques market, still looks like a small district festival - even though the whole of Munich comes to the Dult..
On the other side of the river conversely, the Glockenbachviertel is very metropolitan. They always busy Reichenbachkiosk welcomes its visitors to the quarter. It is one of the few kiosks in Munich that's open virtually round the clock And there's always something happening in the quarter: bars sit alongside cafés, restaurants and clubs. The Müllerstrasse in particular has been party-central for decades – including for the LGBTQ-Szene. The quarter was made famous with prominent guests like Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger and David Bowie. While the Au tends to be home to traditional inns, the Glockenbachviertel also caters to the latest culinary demands – from Vietnamese tapas to an acai bowl.
Friendships are formed here in September especially. Because from the bridge, you can walk together to the Oktoberfest – lose your friends, and immediately find some new ones.
The Munich musician Willy Astor has dedicated a love song to the Donnersbergerbrücke (bridge). But he admits: it is probably the ugliest bridge in the city – but also one of the most important. The Donnersbergerbrücke not only has its own railway station, every train heading for Hauptbahnhof or out into the world passes through here. That's an estimated 350,000 people every day, because the Hauptbahnhof is one of Germany's biggest passenger stations. The Mittlere Ring (central ring road) also passes over the Donnersbergerbrücke, unfortunately making this main road one of the most congested in Germany. It leads to the B2 motorways, which links Garmisch with Berlin. So in theory, you can travel from Munich's central bridge straight to the Brandenburg Gate. The Donnersbergerbrücke is Munich's gateway to the world, connecting the city to the outside. And you don't need to win a beauty parade for that.
The Hackebrücke (bridge) is the much-loves little sister of the Donnersbergerbrücke. In the summer, friends sit beside strangers in the bridge area and enjoy the sunset. Because like the Gärtnerplatz (square), the Hackerbrücke is a popular meeting point for an after-work beer. Friendships are formed here in September especially. Because from the bridge, you can walk together to the Oktoberfest – lose your friends, and immediately find some new ones. The Hackerbrücke truly is the top traffic intersection for Oktoberfest visitors.
It can't be any coincidence that the bridge also sees a lot of international activity: that's because the bridge also connects Munich's Central Station quarter (affectionately know to the people of Munich as 'Little Istanbul') and the Westend (quarter). This quarter of the city was once a slum area – and although it's become quite gentrified these days, it's still home to small boazn (basic bars) and Turkish snack bars. The Westend also has the second-highest proportion of foreigners of all Munich's quarters. The Hackerbrücke brings people together and keeps Munich colourful!
The wide and impressive Luitpoldbrücke (bridge) connects Munich's Prinzregentenstrasse with the Friedensengel (Angel of Peace) which enthrones Munich. This is a street packed with history – it was built by Prince Regent Luitpold in 1891, with buildings such as the Haus der Kunst (art gallery) being added during the Nazi period. The world-famous Club P1 also has more of a historic past than you might expect: it opened back in the 50s as an officers' club for the American occupying forces.
While one side of the Luitpoldbrücke was largely marked by the war, the Friedensengel shines out on the other. In the truest sense, because the golden angel, at almost 40 metres high, can be seen from afar – and gives the people of Munich a peaceful feeling of being 'home'. The monument has stood here since 1896, and is intended to commemorate the anniversary of the peace accord after the end of the Franco-Prussian war.
The Thalkirchner Brücke (bridge) is very busy in the summer in particular: families stroll to the zoo, youngsters carry barbecues under their arm to the Flaucher (pebble beach) and it draws sports enthusiasts on their bikes further south of the Isar (river). The bridge at the Tierpark Hellabrunn (zoo) is, so to speak, a hub for everyone seeking relaxation – and and connects the most beautiful aspects of nature.
On one side is the world's first geo-zoo with around 18,500 animals – it's not uncommon to sit by the Isar and hear a lion roaring or a monkey shouting. On the other side of the Isar, Munich's nature programme plays: passionate kayakers paddle along the Isarwehrkanal (canal), you can dive in at the Naturbad Maria Einsiedel (ecological outdoor swimming pool) and the Flosslände (raft launch) is the perfect place for bathing, surfing and camping. it is even the world's oldest river wave for surfers! The Thalkirchner Brücke must be the greenest place in Munich.
Two of the city's streams meet beneath the Eisbachbrücke (bridge) – and from them emerges what is probably Germany's most famous wave: the surfers' wave. Surfers ride the wave at any time of the day or night. Most of them are from Munich, but it sometimes also attracts professionals from across the whole world. Exceptionally, the Eisbachbrücke does not connect quarters or different places, but people. Because throughout the day, it's packed with tourists watching the surfers. The bridge has become a tourist attraction, and is now just as famous as the Frauenkirche (cathedral) or the Rathaus (Town Hall).
Perhaps one of the most romantic bridges in the small Gerner Brücke which spans the Nymphenburger Kanal (Nymphenburg Canal), and is therefore also known as a canal bridge. Not only does it connect two important city quarters – Gern and Neuhausen – it also connects two wonderful vistas. Look to the west for a perfect view of Nymphenburger Schloss (Nymphenburg Palace), or to the east for the no less beautiful Hubertusbrunnen (fountain). The Gerner Brücke is a listed monument and was closed to cars a few years ago. But for pedestrians, it's an all-rounder with view in every direction.
On one side is the world's first geo-zoo, on the other side of the Isar river kayak fans paddle along the Isarwehrkanal, in the Maria Einsiedel natural swimming pool you can dive into chlorine-free pools and the rafting grounds invite you to surf. It won't get any greener than at the Thalkirchner Brücke.
The St. Emmeran Brücke in the north of Munich is a very unusual bridge. One of the few half-timbered bridges in the city connects the English Garden with the Isarinsel (Isar Island) in an idyllic atmosphere far away from the noise of the city. For many Munich residents and visitors, the English Garden ends with the Mittlerer Ring. It's a shame, because beyond this road, the park extends much further into the peaceful northern section. This is also where you will find the Stauwehr Oberföhring (dam) which divides the Isar into two arms – and so allows the 'Mittlere Isar Canal' to spring up. This results in a large, green island in the middle of the Isar – which is easily reached via the St. Emmeran Brücke.
It's actually the star among Munich's bridges – yet no one knows its name The Eisenbahnbrücke in the Schlachthofviertel (quarter), which crosses the Lagerhausstrasse, most recently rose to fame thanks to an article in the New York Times. The article reported on the Alte Utting, a decommissioned pleasure steamer that now sits on the small bridge, drawing in visitors as a café, bar and cultural site. The whole thing is a project by the Hahn brothers, already well-known in Munich for similar subculture such as the Bahnwärter Thiel (culture centre) and the Café Gans am Wasser. But here's something not many people know: the bridge that today symbolises Munich's coolness used to supply the city with food. All trains from neighbouring countries took this route into the city - the tracks led straight to the site of the Grossmarkthalle (wholesale market hall). But as goods increasingly arrived by plane or truck, the bridge lost its role. Fortunately, it's found a new one now, as the best spot to watch the most beautiful sunsets from!