In the northern part of the historic city centre of Munich is the Odeonsplatz. Two avenues start at Odeonplatz: the Briennerstraße towards the west and the Luwigstraße which during its course towards the north will then be called Leopoldstraße. The Theatinerstraße a pedestrianised road goes southwards towards Marienplatz. The square was named in 1827 after the former concert hall, the Odeon, on its southwestern side which was built by King Ludwig I. Odeonsplatz is the second most important meeting point in Munich right after Marienplatz. It is also claimed that nowhere else the atmosphere will be more Italian than at Odeonplatz. This is certainly caused by the Theatine Church built in Italian high-Baroque style and the coffeehouse Tambosi with its generous outdoor space. Like Marienplatz also Odeonsplatz is always good for a surprise: In the summer it can be the open air concert “Klassik am Odeonsplatz”, in December the Christmas tree sales or different festivals throughout the whole year.
Building and places of interest at the Odeonsplatz
Odeonsplatz is framed by the Theatine Church, the Feldherrnhalle, the Bazaar building, the Odeon and the Palais Leuchtenberg, now the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance. Next to the Hofgarten there is the coffeehouse Tambosi, where huge pieces of cake will be served and one can watch what is going on at Odeonsplatz.
Theatinerkirche (Theatine Church)
Between 1663 and 1768 the Theatine Church of St. Cajetan and its dome with two towers was built. It was built in Italian high-Baroque style, inspired by Sant´Andrea della Valle in Rome. The church was founded by Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, as a gesture of thanks for the birth of the long-awaited heir to the Bavarian crown, Prince Max Emanuel. The couple handed the church over to the Italian Theatine Oder. The inside of the church is dominated by Italian Baroque architecture. In a small chapel there are several burial places. Alongside King Otto of Greece, all ruling members of the Wittelsbach family from Ferdinand Maria up to King Maximilian I were buried here.
The Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall´s Hall)
At the southern end of the Ludwigstraße Feldherrnhalle was built between 1841 and 1844 by Friedrich von Gärtner after the example of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. In 1923 Adolf Hitler failed an attempted coup at Feldherrnhalle and it became a cult site for the National Socialists. After Hitler came into power people had to show the Nazi salute when passing Feldherrnhalle. At that time the small alley, the Viscardigasse, behind the building was called “hedger lane” because people tried to avoid to have to pass by Feldherrnhalle. The two statues inside Feldherrnhalle are built in remembrance of the military leaders Johann Tilly and Karl Philipp von Wrede. The two Lions by Wihelm von Rümann were added only in 1906.
The Bazaar Building
On the east side of Odeonsplatz is Klenze´s Bazaar Building that was built between 1824 and 1826. It replaced the old riding school at Hofgarten. Since 1951 the Filmcasino was located in the building. In 2011 the well known cinema had to close down.
The former concert hall Odeon was an important attraction in Munich’s cultural life. It was built by Leo von Klenze from 1826 to 1828. During a bombing in the Second World War the building was completely destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1951 by Josef Wiedemann. Today the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior is situated here. The former concert hall became a court yard. Many attempts to rebuild the Odeon remained without any results. In 2007 the court yard was covered by a glass roof and can now partially used as a hall again. The place is worth a visit and the doorman can provide visitors with a flyer about the building.
Palais Leuchtenberg (Luitpold Palais)
The Palais Leuchtenberg inspired by the Palazzo Farnese in Rome is the largest palace in Munich. Today the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance resides in the building. Leo von Klenze built this suburban city palace with about 250 rooms from 1817 until 1821. The Bavarian royal family used the palace for receptions and events until 1933. During the Second World War Palais Leuchtenberg was badly damaged in air raids. The Free State of Bavaria acquired the ruined building in 1957. Between 1963 and 1967 the building was completely demolished. A new building designed by Hans Heid and Franz Simm was built with an accurate reconstruction of the old façade. However, the interior layout has not been reproduced and unfortunately little survived of the ornate interior of the former building which is now in Nymphenburg Palace.
The history of Odeonsplatz
Even around 1800 the square which is today Odeonsplatz was a mixup of houses before the grassland of Maxvorstadt began. The purpose of the reconstruction and rearrangement in the first half of 19th century was to reflect the self-confidence of the young Bavarian kingdom and the reign of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and to create a more impressive driveway to the royal residence. Leo von Klenze was commissioned to lay out the Odeonsplatz. His work was later continued by Friedrich Gärtner. By the way, an equestrian statue of Ludwig I was added at the mouth of the street between the Odeon and the Palais Leuchtenberg.