The Bavarian city of Munich, centre of southern Germany, is one of the country's favourite tourist destinations, offering a unique combination of modern flair and traditional charm, all mixed together with a heavy helping of Gemutlichkeit, the special German term for hearty, happy, healthy togetherness.
Traditionally the city, famous for its breweries and beer halls, conjures up images of jolly red-cheeked men in lederhosen downing steins of beer served by buxom, blonde waitresses. There is plenty of this sort of fun to be had, but Munich and the Bavarian region has plenty more to recommend it to visitors than the excellent beer. The city has numerous great museums, art treasures, hi-tech industries and gems of Gothic and Baroque architecture. It is also the gateway to the Bavarian Alps, drawing winter sports enthusiasts from near and far.
Munich itself was founded in 1158 on the River Isar, and acquired its name, Munchen (home of the monks) from its first monastery. It was the monks that started the beer brewing tradition for which the city is now world famous, particularly since it started celebrating an annual beer festival in 1810. Today about six million people visit the Oktoberfest every year, and consume more than five and a half million litres of beer during its two-week run.
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