Munich is heralded as the capital of Bavaria and keeper of the southern German way of life. It’s also the home to significant industry and is a vibrant, progressive city in the heart of Europe. One of the best ways to see the modern side of Munich is through a visit to the BMW Museum.
The world famous car company BMW, or Bayerische Motoren Werke (no, I didn’t have to look that up) was founded in Munich in the early 20th century where it is still headquartered. The home offices are located in a massive building with towers designed to mimic engine cylinders. Next door to the BMW tower is the equally impressive BMW Museum.
The Museum structure itself is unique, the exhibit space is circular and a central ramp is meant to serve as a road on which to transport the visitor to all areas of the building. In addition to telling the story of BMW through the years, the exhibits are also porn for any gear head.
I really enjoyed going through the museum and learning more of the history of this famous brand and the role it played not only in German history, but world history. I think we too often forget the important roles these large corporations play in our daily lives and I particularly enjoyed learning about BMW’s impact throughout the years. The BMW Museum is a great museum even if you’re not a gear head, which I am not, and is a great opportunity to see more of Munich outside of the central core.
The BMW headquarters and museum is adjacent to the massive OlympiaPark, home of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. It was during these games in which terrorists invaded the Olympic village, kidnapped and killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team. Echoes of the Munich Massacre are still present and it was an eerie experience to see the apartments which were home to the athletes during the Games.
Today the area is a large park north of the city, but the stadium and iconic Olympic Tower or OlympiaTurm are open to tourists. It was a chilly, but pleasant, spring day as we walked around the park along with scores of Munich residents taking advantage of the fine weather.
I love towers and monuments that offer panoramic views, so we ascended the massive tower for a view of the area. It was a little hazy, but the perspective from nearly 1,000 feet in the air was awe inspiring.
A half-day visit to the Olympic Park and BMW Museum are great activities for any time of year and offer an easy way to get out of the city and experience more “normal” life in Munich.