Today, 15th of August, for Christians all over the world the holiday of “Mary’s Ascension”, for Italiens the famous “Ferragosto”, declared in 18 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus who ordered that all of the month of August should be dedicated to the “Feriae Augusti”, a series of festivals and celebrations in honor of all kind of gods and goddessess … and for us Munich natives it means the “OKTOBERFEST”, the biggest and most famous luna-park and beer-festival in the world is only another ~five weeks away. No question I will guide you through it but one thing at a time – today I’ll give you an idea about the historical background of the festival, the place where it takes place ever since, give you to drool a bit while looking at the picture of inside one of the numerous beer-tents – and show you our “PATRONA BAVARIAE” which was meant to communicate, back then, Bavarian and German strength.

When Crownprince Ludwig got married to Therese von Sachsen-Anhalt on October 12th, 1810, it was celebrated by organizing a horse-race far outside of the city-boundaries at a grassland called in Bavarian “Wiesn”. It was meant to entertain the royals as well as the ordinary citizens, something rare back then as most of the festivities were for the upper ten-thousand only … an ordinary people could hardly afford them.

The effect of this event was far-reaching – people were thrilled and decided immediately to repeat it right the following year – and when it turned out again as huge success, the idea to make it larger and larger was born.

The “Oktoberfest” is scheduled every year to take place during last week in September and the first in October, alltogether 16 days. It is still a huge spectacle, absorb the splendid atmosphere in the huge beer-tents where people from all over the world sit together peacefully, laugh, sing and drink, get carried away by the rhythms of the music, and smell the Bavarian specialties at literally every corner!

Who is watching all the commotion from a special place is “BAVARIA”, our patron, located at the edge of the “Wiesn”! It was King Ludwig Iwho ordered this 18 meter high statue. It was cast by Ferdinand von Miller between 1844 – 1850 from 1500 hundredweight of bronze recovered from cannons sunk during sea battles, using a design from the sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler who won a contest. Klenze had wanted her to be decently but still rather scarcely dressed, the King imagined her to get a Roman look, giant and impressive – but Ludwig Schwanthaler created her as Germanic female dressed in bear-skin with sword, holding a laurel-wreath above her head in her left hand and a lion on a leash in her right. Inside is a spiral staircase to the top from where there is a wonderful view over the Wies’n (Octoberfest grounds) and the city.

There’s a nice story on the sideline: When the head was finally taken out of the pit after casting, the children of Ferdinand von Miller got their very own fun: they had secretly hidden inside and when the head was about to to be lifted up, one by one jumped out to the astonishment and delight of the spectators.


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