I made a promise – and need to keep it. I promised to continue introducing Munich once a week and will do so … even though I admit it is not easy at this point in time. I have a hard time to show you something beautiful, something I really enjoy and love to go to – at a time I don’t know if my friends in Lebanon are still alive (I can’t reach them), at a time people in Lebanon struggle to cope with the immense scope of destruction, struggle to stay alive and take it an hour at a time as further down the road there is no way to predict what will happen. I have to think of Dr. Mona el-Farra in Gaza and the horrors she and her people are forced to go through – and the people in Iraq, who face sudden possible death at every corner. Call me weird but I am such a kind of person … I have a problem to shake all that off and pretend nothing is happening.

Despite, I have to keep my promise … so here you go.

I will show you a fantastic place, in fact one of my favourites at times I need a break, a place which lets me relax, gives my soul to dangle and my lungs to breath fresh air high on oxygen instead of exhaust fumes, kind of an enclave … the “ENGLISCHER GARTEN” or “ENGLISH GARDEN”, the name refering to the kind of gardening in earlier days!

It is a huge park right in the midst of Munich, the largest city-park in Europe and believe it or not, with it’s 3,73 km² larger than New York’s Central Park (3,4 km²) and is lovingly called the lung of the city. I can’t possible imagine the city without it … it belongs to Munich like the lid on the pot!

It stretches from the very center to the northernmost rim of the city. The English Garden is one thing which makes Munich such a pleasant city to live in. During the summer you’ll see students from the adjacent universty studying here. Other people play football, frisbee, horse riding, even cricket and surfing on the Eisbach river! Or doing nothing at all but sunbathing … everyone the way he/she likes.

Actually Munich needs to say “thank you” to an American: Benjamin Thompson aka Earl Rumsford (1753-1814), son of a farmer, physicist, social reformer and last not least, War Minister of Bavaria. In his capacity he ordered some swamp-land along the Isar-river to be transformed to “military gardens” which finally ended up as large park, a so-called “VOLKSPARK” (park for the people).

I will mention in particular three features on the Englischer Garten even though there are many more – the “Monopteros”, “Chinesischer Turm” (Chinese tower) and the lake, “Kleinhesseloher See”. Actually a fourth which means to me a lot on personal basis – a marry-go-round from beginning of the last century!

The “Monopteros” was designed by Leo von Klenze and is a 16m high round-temple of Roman style. Frequently it is a meeting place for youngsters or as well for the less fortunate inhabitants, in particular during summer months when the weather is good.

The second feature is the “Chinesischer Turm” (Chinese Tower)! This 25-meter-high wooden structure, designed by the military architect Joseph Frey von Johann Baptist Lechner, was built from 1789 to 1790. It was modelled on the “Great Pagoda” in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. The Pagoda, twice as high as the Turm, was supposed to resemble a porcelain pagoda in the gardens of a Chinese emperor.
In July 1944, the so-called “China Tower” burned down due to heavy bombing, and in 1952 was rebuilt true to the original.

With 7,000 seats, the Chinesischer Turm’s beer garden is the second largest beer garden in Munich. I can recommend this place as absolute insider-tip … I LOVE going there! I usually take a picnic and meet with friends, just having a good time! Nobody is forced to buy anything – it is for everybody free to use.

A children’s’ carousel was put up near the Turm at the beginning of the 19th century, but was replaced with a plainer copy around 1912. It was restored from 1979 until 1981. I must admit I always considered it “MY” carousel as I rode it from the age of about two years till the age of four almost every day, driving my poor parents constantly to the edge of despair through my persistent nagging to get another turn … and another … and another! Yes, I honestly admit, I was NO “easy” child!

And the the “Kleinhesseloher See” (lit. “Kleinhesseloher Lake”)! It was placed around 1800 between the districts of Schwabing and Kleinhesselohe, and further expanded from 1807 to 1812. It is constantly fed by the Eisbach. Three islands can be found within the lake’s 86,410 square meters:

Königinsel (2,720 m²)
Kurfürsteninsel (1,260 m²)
Regenteninsel (640 m²)

By the lake, a visitor would find the “Seehaus” and a beer garden with 2,500 seats. Today, the See and the Seehaus are well-loved leisure destinations; pedal boats are also leased here to those who want to splash around. I used to enthusiastically feed the ducks, geese and swans with old bread … till one swan which was almost my hight (at ~ age three) decided to not only go for the bread – but for my whole hand! From that time on I had more respect … and dashed away from swans trying to come too close to me!

I owe you another short story of my early childhood which is connected to this place: My dear mother took me every single day during the year to Englischer Garten, our kind of outing. We didn’t live far away but had to cross a main street. During one VERY cold winter, my mom had lovingly tucked me onto the sledge with blankets in order to prevent me from getting frozen. During the whole way there she pulled the sledge and I was sitting still like a good girl but when we were in the middle of the main-street, I apparently decided it was too boring and somehow managed to get off the sledge … and found myself sitting happily in the middle of the street. My poor mother realised only after having crossed, that something felt strange and the sledge was lighter that before and when she turned around – she told me later – she was close to a cardiac standstill. It had not bothered me at all and I was rather upset when I was packed back onto the sledge to continue the way .. to the playground of my early childhood.


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